Mar 18, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) dives back to first base in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers in a spring training exhibition game at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays vs AL East Part 6: Left Field

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Welcome to the also ran section of the outfield. Poor arms, constant trade bait, slow afoot. Left Field is where you end up when you are too fast for first base but too slow for centre or right field. Left Field in the AL East is truly a collection of hopefully he has something left type players and there is nowhere else to play his bat players. Onto the Left Fielders!

Probable Starting Left Fielders

Baltimore Orioles: Nolan Reimold

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 29 BAL 40 128 5 12 .195 .250 .336 .586 57
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

So who exactly is Nolan Reimold? Is he the answer for the Orioles in left or just a guy holding the spot till some rookie pushes his way up the system? More the latter. After Nate McLouth left for Washington, Reimold inherited the job by default. His experience is there but is severely lacking. Reimold has been injured a lot the last couple seasons but he is a career long Oriole so far. A bit of power, decent career OBP of .327 and not so bad OPS around 7 1/2.

Helping exacerbate the problem is that Reimold kind of sucks defensively. He is below average for a left fielder so that should say something. Not much range and a decent arm is all that needs to be said about his fielding. Look for David Lough to eventually take this position.

Boston Red Sox: Daniel Nava

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 30 BOS 134 458 12 66 .303 .385 .445 .831 128
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

Nava emerged as a definite up and comer. He displayed decent power and an uncanny ability to get on base (OBP of .385!) in 2013. Not bad for his first full regular season. Imagine what he could accomplish with some years under his belt? He could emerge as a .310/.400/.450 kind of guy with 20 homers, 35 doubles and a load of walks.

Defensively he holds his own. He will learn interesting routes to the ball thanks to the Green Monster but aside from that he has the capabilities to turn in some solid to great defense. His trick is to see how he fares in the other cities. Nava has the capabilities to be the best left fielder in American League.

New York Yankees: Brett Gardner

Year Age Tm G AB 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 29 NYY 145 539 10 8 52 24 .273 .344 .416 .759
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

If you like Nava, try him with more speed, better defense but not as good a batting eye. His WAR was a decent 4.2 (look ma…I used WAR!) and a career OBP of .350 is still pretty damn good. Unfortunately with Jacoby Ellsbury in the mix his runs scored and steals are most likely going to take a dip batting in the 9th spot. That doesn’t change the fact that aside from no power Gardner has the tools to even bat 2nd if Derek Jeter falters or gets hurt again.

Gardner can also catch the damn ball. He played centre for years and still has the same range. With him and Ellsbury side by side it is going to be fun to watch the Yankees outfielders. He rarely makes an error, takes quick routes to the ball and has a good enough arm that he will make a runner think twice about taking home on a fly ball.

Tampa Bay Rays: David DeJesus

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 33 TOT 122 391 8 38 79 .251 .327 .402 .729 100
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

DeJesus is one of those underappreciated guys. He moves from team to team (3 last year alone) and gives solid at bats. He is not the toughest out but he is better than the average guy. Being a smart but slow base runner allows him to take the extra base. He won’t hit .300 with power but he will give you a solid .280 and will put the ball in play.

Having played most of his time in centre and right shows that he has range and a great arm. He isn’t the speediest but his instincts have him playing perfect positionally. He has the highest fielding percentage on left field as opposed to his time in centre and right. He definitely fills a hole in left field that has been there since Carl Crawford took the money and ran. He may not be the same caliber but he is as reliable as they come.

Toronto Blue Jays: Melky Cabrera

Year Age Tm G AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 28 TOR 88 344 3 30 .279 .322 .360 .682 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/18/2014.

This is the biggest question to be answered not just for the Blue Jays but of all the left fielders in the East. We are still unsure which Melky there will be. The pre-PED Melky who had a great eye and a propensity to get on base or the post PED, tumour ridden Melky that we saw in his first full season with the Blue Jays. He was a mess last year and had career lows across the board. He couldn’t get any power behind his swing and his total offense suffered. After spinal surgery we may get pre-PED Melky…but who is that?

His defensive range certainly suffered last season with the tumour but apparently this spring he is as mobile as he has ever been. I think he has the capabilities to play like an all-star but there will be that black mark beside his name.

And the medalists are:

This was truly closer than I thought it would be going in. As it stands now I have to list them as Gardner, Nava, DeJesus, Cabrera then Reimold. This one could drastically change at the end of the season but going in there are too many question marks with Cabrera and Reimold. Cabrera could get as high as 2nd if he truly is back to the player he was. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

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