Right field is one of the AL East’s strongest positions, with the division having all potentially above average players for 2013. In fact, one could argue that along with shortstop, it is the division’s strongest position.
1. Jose Bautista- Toronto Blue Jays: Bautista had an injury-filled down year in 2012, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s the best pure power hitter in baseball. He led the league in home runs in 2010 and 2011, and was on the track to do so again in 2012 if he hadn’t missed significant time due to injury, batting .241/.358/.527 with 27 home runs in 102 games. Should Bautista remain healthy in 2013, he should hit for significant power and get on base a ton even if he doesn’t hit for a stellar batting average.
2. Nick Markakis- Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis was injured for a significant portion of the Orioles’ first good season in over a decade. When he was healthy, he posted excellent numbers though, batting .298/.363/.471 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs in 104 games. Seeing as those numbers are pretty much right on line with his career averages, he should be able to repeat them, along with his fantastic defense. Look for Markakis to put up consistently strong statistics next year.
3. Ben Zobrist- Tampa Bay Rays: Zobrist would’ve ranked as the third best second baseman in the AL East, and he’ll rank as the third best right fielder. Zobrist put up a traditionally solid line in 2012, batting .270/.377/.471 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs. That solid line along with a bit of speed on the basepaths and solid defense in right field should make for another good season next year.
4. Ichiro Suzuki- New York Yankees: Ichiro Suzuki was revitalized after being traded from the cellar-dwelling Mariners to the first place Yankees in 2012. However, will there be the same playoff race to energize him in 2013? The Yankees are not a lock like they were last year, and it’s possible Ichiro will put up closer to the .261/.288/.353 line he batted with the M’s than the .322/.340/.454 line than he put up with New York. Suzuki still runs well and plays good defense, but it’s his bat that will determine if he’s an above average player in 2013.
5. Shane Victorino- Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox turned some heads when they signed Victorino to a 3 year/$39 million contract in December. It didn’t make a ton of sense to sign a guy who hit only .255/.321/.383 to a big contract like that, but if we go back to any year beyond 2012, it makes plenty of sense. Victorino can be a dynamic player that can do a little bit of everything and can be a borderline five-tool player. There are plenty of question debating whether or not he can get back to that level, but if he can, this is a good signing for the Red Sox.