The Candidates (2011 stats)
Minnesota Twins – Josh Willingham - .246/.332/.477 (.810) with 26-2B, 0-3B, 29-HR, 98 RBI
Chicago White Sox – Alex Rios- .227/.265/.348 (.613) with 22-2B, 2-3B, 13-HR, 44 RBI
Cleveland Indians – Shin-Soo Choo - .259/.344/.390 (.733) with 11-2B, 3-3B, 8-HR, 36 RBI
Detroit Tigers – Brennan Boesch - .283/.341/.458 (.799) with 25-2B, 1-3B, 16-HR, 54 RBI
Kansas City Royals – Jeff Francoeur - .285/.329/.476 (.805) with 47-2B, 4-3B, 20-HR, 87 RBI
The Twins lost Michael Cuddyer to free agency, but they picked up a pretty solid replacement. 33-year-old Willingham knows what it’s like to hit in a big, pitcher’s ballpark. His 29 home runs a year ago came with the Oakland A’s. He’s one of those guys who will hit a bunch of home runs, walk a bunch and strikeout a bunch, but he should provide major power in the middle of the Twins lineup.
Alex Rios is one of the bigger enigmas in the game. He has a lot of talent and he has had some very strong seasons, but last year, he was back to being the bad Alex Rios. He didn’t get on base, didn’t have a lot of power and displayed very poor effort in the outfield. He’s running out of years on that massive contract and at 31, he could get another contract if he plays well.
Choo missed a lot of time again in 2011, playing in just 85 games. When he’s healthy, the left-handed hitter can hit for average, get on base and hit for power. He will turn 30 in July. He also has a very strong arm in the outfield.
Brennan Boesch played in 115 games in 2011. He put up solid numbers hitting either 2nd or at the bottom of the Tigers lineup. He does have good pop in his game and will turn just 27 years old in April. It will be interesting to see where he bats in the lineup this year.
Jeff Francoeur often has a bad rep because he is very aggressive at the plate. In 2011, that was a very productive approach for the 28 year old. He won’t be a great on-base guy ever, but I think most teams would be happy with a right fielder (or any player) who has 71 extra base hits, stole 22 bases and plays a very solid right field with one of the best arm in the game.
There is your information, now it is time to vote. Who will be the best right fielder in the AL Central in 2012?