2010 Player Preview: Marlon Byrd
Quick, who's the new outfielder for the Cubs in 2011? I say there is a better than average chance that they come from AAAA - Texas. This season, the Cubs latest call up was Marlon Byrd, who is pretty much nothing like last year's version, Milton Bradley. In the end, Byrd will probably cause less news stories, but might not actually lead to any extra wins.
From all kinds of reports from various media outlets, Byrd is a good guy and is all smiles. That's all well and good, but can he hit in Chicago? In Texas, Byrd was a good hitter. He finished with a .808 OPS with 20 HR in the MLB's best hitting park. Byrd combined for 20 HR in the previous two seasons, so Cub fans better not expect a huge year from the new center fielder. Most of the projections for Byrd has him hitting somewhere around a .775 OPS with 15-20 HR, which is just average.
Can Byrd get better? Eh...I think that we can only hope he continues to play at the same level.
In the field, Bill James and the stat heads don't really like Byrd that much. He did play in a huge ball bark, but he does rate an improvement on Kosuke Fukudome in center. Fukudome was a UZR -18.8 last year, while Byrd was only -8.8. His defence is better in left field, which he could move to in the later innings possibly.
Byrd doesn't really inspire much greatness in the hearts of bloggers, at least of this blogger. I'm convinced that Hendry's strengths is in trading and not free agent signing. We really need two different GM's, but that is a story for another post. Until then, enjoy the new center fielder. Hopefully, he won't be suspended at the end of the season.