While trying to put this together I immediately came up against a problem. Using games played (or PA) in Left Field revealed that a number of players on the leaderboard actually played more games at other positions. For example, here are the top 25 in games played for Arizona as a left fielder
David Peralta, Jason Kubel, and Cody Ross are clearly on the “Left Fielder” list. However a quick check over the top portion of the list shows that:
Gerardo Parra played 277 games in RF vs. 233 in LF, and also had roughly 300 more PA in RF. So he probably belongs among the right fielders. I’ll leave him for the Right Fielder poll.
Ender Inciarte played 95 games in CF as well 74 games in RF, so can hardly be considered a Left Fielder for this exercise. I’ll leave him for the Center Fielder poll.
That brings me to:
Yasmany Tomas played 146 games in RF vs 104 in LF, and although he’s not going to be on anyone’s “best” list, he should still be among the right fielders if anywhere.
Mark Trumbo played 43 games at 1b, 42 G in RF, and 41 G in LF.
And on it goes....Brandon Drury played 61 G in LF, but many more at other positions including 2b, 3b and RF. Same for Daniel Descalso.
I have to get all the way down to Rickie Weeks, Conor Jackson, and Josh Rojas before I get to more guys that primarily played LF, and they all just played in a single season and not that many games.
Ultimately I’ve decided to go with a table that simply separates by 45% of playing time in LF and minimum 100 PA, ranked by WAR. The 4th and 5th spots on the list are Colin Cowgill and Conor Jackson. The poll is going be an obvious unanimous anyway, and I wanted to write a little about these two guys. I’m sure I will be forgiven to forgo writing about Tomas or Trumbo or Gregor Blanco. And with a little luck, Josh Rojas will make the list for the next decade. So here goes:
(Named Links below take you to Baseball-Reference.com player page)
Conor Jackson: After 2+ season underwhelming at first base from 2005-2007, and being essentially a replacement player, primarily due to poor defense at 1st, Jackson was moved to left field in 2008 and blossomed. He hit better than ever before, and recorded positive fielding runs, resulting in a 2.8 WAR season. Unfortunately he contracted the nasty fungal infection Valley Fever , and that took him out of action for all but 30 games in 2009. As the decade opened in 2010, he tried valiantly to mount a comeback. He actually battled to 0.2 WAR on the strength of positive fielding in his 40+ games in 2010. But the bat was just no longer there. Traded towards the end of the season to the A’s, he played two more seasons but never fully got over the illness enough to resume a productive career.
Collin Cowgill: This man should have gotten more of a chance to play in his career. Granted his splits vs. Right Hand pitching were dreadful. But only one time in his career was he given more than 36 starts. And that year, 2014 with the Angels, he produced 2 WAR in 293 PA. A look at the value section of his player page reveals an excellent defender who was also a decent baserunner and avoided double plays. He didn’t hit much in the majors, but one wonders had he been given more of an extended look if his bat might have come around. He hit well in the minors, so it’s odd that he never was given more of a shot. The one time they gave him a chance, (2014) he was indeed positive with the bat as well. The fact that he managed to put up 0.5 WAR in just 100 PA with the DBacks in 2011, despite a poor batting line gave me an excuse to write about him. ;)
Jason Kubel : When Jason was signed by the DBacks for 2 years/15M prior to the 2012 season he was somewhat of a polarizing player. He came with a good reputation at the plate and a bad reputation in the field and on the base paths. For a while in 2012 it looked like he was going to hit enough to more than justify the signing and overcome the perceived defense and baserunning liabilities. After getting off to a slowish start, batting .255 with a .701 OPS through his first 16 games he took off. On April 23rd he had a 3 for 4 day with two doubles and homer, and from that point up through July 26th, a span of 75 games he hit an astounding .305/.375/.617, .992 OPS with 21 HR and 67 RBI. Unfortunately he slumped for the rest of 2012, batting just .169 with a .616 OPS over his final 52 games. His defense and base running rated negatively, and when it was all said and done he posted just a 1.3 WAR season despite a 120 OPS+. In 2013, Playing on sore knees he hit just .220 with a 69 OPS+ and -0.8 WAR. He was traded to Cleveland on August 29th, 2013, and and was out of baseball by the end of 2014.
Cody Ross was signed to a 3 year, 26M contract prior to the 2013 season. Another polarizing player, it left many scratching their head why the team would invest those resources in an aging, oft injured corner outfielder. As it turned out, in his first season with the team Ross defended exceptionally well, posting +19 fielding runs and a 104 OPS+ , resulting in a more than respectable 2.4 WAR in 351 PA. It might have been an even better year, as after languishing with a sub .700 OPS for most of the first half, Ross had an 11 game, 40 PA hot streak going. His bat had come alive to the tune of .395 B.A., with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 8 RBI in that stretch. Unfortunately on August 11th the injury bug struck again, as he dislocated his right hip trying to stretch out an infield hit, ending his season. In 2014 he began the year with calf injury that delayed his start to the season and he never got untracked once he returned. He was released at the beginning of the 2015 season, the Diamondbacks being forced to eat the remainder of his contract. He was picked up by the A’s, played in 9 games, and his career was over.
David Peralta : Much has been written about David recently, including these three articles at Azsnakepit.
There really is little doubt who is the Left Fielder of the Decade, so I’ll spare you many more words. I’ll just say this: As risky as it is to sign him to that deal, (a 32 year old coming off shoulder surgery), if there is going to be a mid 30’s outfielder that gets paid by this team, despite some obvious risks, I’m glad it was him. For the lone video of this article, I give you this:
Who is your pick for Diamondbacks Left Fielder of the decade
This poll is closed