Although up until a few years, the AL East had its share of great left fielders, they’re all gone now. The new crop is not nearly so impressive, with none of these starters with the exception of Brett Gardner really being a longterm solution at the position.
1. Melky Cabrera- Toronto Blue Jays: It will be very interesting to see how Cabrera plays after serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhacing drugs this past season. Before being injured, he was one of the best in the game though– as he was hitting .346/.390/.516 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs through 113 games with the Giants. He’ll still be only 28 years old on Opening Day, and if he can remember how to hit without the use of steroids, the Blue Jays may have found themselves a bargain at 2 years and $16 million.
2. Brett Gardner- New York Yankees: There are plenty of questions surrounding whether or not Gardner is really suited for left field. However, he’s performed well enough there when healthy (which he wasn’t in 2012) and as long as Curtis Granderson stays in New York, Gardner will stay in left field. Despite missing time with injuries in 2012, he was great when healthy– batting .323/.417/.387 in 16 games. If Gardner comes back strong in 2013, he should hit for plenty of average and be one of the top base stealers in the league.
3. Jonny Gomes- Boston Red Sox: Many questioned the 2 year/$10 million contract which brought Gomes to Boston. However, like Mike Napoli, Fenway Park is basically the perfect place for Gomes to be. He hit well enough in 2012, batting .262/.377/.491 with 18 home runs in the spacious O.co Coliseum. Those numbers should improve with the Green Monster and that’s why, despite his lacking defense, he ranks third on this list.
4. Matt Joyce- Tampa Bay Rays: Since Joyce became a starting outfielder for the Rays, he’s basically been a solid player. Nothing more, nothing less. He hit .241/.341/.429 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs in 124 games for the Rays in 2012. With Ben Zobrist moving to the outfield full time now, it looks like Joyce may switch to left field. Joyce has shown flashes of brilliance, but it’s unreasonable to expect better than the .277/.347/.478 slash line he put up in 2011.
5. Nate McLouth- Baltimore Orioles: McLouth’s season gained a second life once he was claimed by the Orioles after putting up just a .140/.210/.175 slash line with Pittsburgh. Upon joining the surprising Orioles, he batted .268/.342/.435 and occupied the leadoff spot during the playoff run. After being re-signed by the O’s, it looks like McLouth will take over the starting left field job and see if the Baltimore magic can continue.