This time we will be looking back at the outfield, it was another consistent group in playing time, but underwhelming on the field. Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, and Avisail Garcia played the field the majority of the time in left to right. All three were holdovers from last year, and in Garcia’s case has been part of the franchise for years since the last attempted retool. The outfield had another player added in the season, known mostly, okay solely for his bat, Daniel Plaka played some outfield but was primarily a designated hitter once he came up. A waiver pickup from the Twins finally made his debut in late April, after spending 5 years in the minor leagues between Arizona and Minnesota.
Starting in left field 65 percent of the games despite a broken finger Nicky Delmonico set out to solidify a spot after arriving on the scene in 2107. This year Nicky did not take any steps forward, actually he took steps back. He had a lower walk rate than last year by almost 2 percent, and his strikeout percentage was 7 points higher. He slashed a very pedestrian .215/.296/.373 all down from last year. He did have 5 triples, which is 5 more than his total major league career, his hard rate rate was up by 8 percent and doubled his barreled balls from 2017, so when he did make contact it didn’t leave the yard but they did find gaps. Defensively he wasn’t much better, actually he was painfully average, he was worth 0 outs above average.
Moving over to center we find Adam Engel, who played 80 percent of the games in center field. we’ll start off with his defense, I mean he was a guy who robbed three home runs in the span of one week. He was worth 17 outs above average, 14 going backwards and 3 coming in, he plays a shallow center. His 17 outs above average is 4th best in baseball and 14 going backwards was best in the game. Made 96% of his possible 3 star catches, and 100% of his 1 and 2 star catches, which is saying he is making the catches he should make as well as some of the spectacular ones. All this talk of defense is because his offense was whoaful, slashing .235/.279/.336, adding -14.4 offensive value, even though he has elite sprint speed (defined as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window” on individual plays) at 30.7, you can’t steal first, just ask the guy with the highest sprint speed Byron Buxton.
Swinging to the outfield elder statesman in right, Avisail Garcia was hampered by nagging injuries all year but still started 89 percent of games in right field. After a breakout 2017 big things were expected from the veteran, part of the fan base were hoping he would have been traded to further the rebuild, while others wanted him back hoping he could set roots in right field when this team wins again. Well, looking at the numbers they should have tried to move him, he was significantly worse in all offensive stat fields from 2017, resulting in a 0.0 WAR (4.2 in 2017), and a 92 wRC+ down from 137 last year. Defensively he was better than Delmonico in left, but he still wasn’t great, or good, he was worth only 5 outs above average, and was worth more going back than coming in.
Now to the fan favorite who came late, Daniel Palka, he played 50 percent of games at DH, only 17 percent in left, and 6 percent in right. The guy who wins the “outta nowhere guy of the year” was kept out of the field due mostly to the fact that he may have well been a statue. That’s not why he’s here though, here’s here for his bat. He lead team in home runs and slugging this season, his 8 barrels (2.1 percent of pitches) lead the team, as did his 6 ninth inning home runs.
That will do it for looking back on the outfield, overall it was an incredibly underwhelming position group that should see a good amount of new faces for 2019. The four players featured above combined for a putrid 0.6 WAR meaning all four of them could have been replaced by high triple A guys. There will obviously be a new face in left field after some defense is worked on but that doesn’t solve the other 2 outfield positions. As for Palka he will need to develop a tool that isn’t a power bat because the days of the home run only designated hitters seem to be gone.
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