Center and Stubbs

One comment I read and hear is that Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs has as bright a future as any player on the Reds roster. I agree with those sentiments. But there is one drawback, we aren’t completely sure “what” Drew Stubbs is. I’m not saying that to be sarcastic. In the past, even Alex has expressed his bit of confusion on here.

Well, apparently for the second time in two seasons, Stubbs is no longer the leadoff hitter. A recent slide in all of his slash categories have prompted Dusty Baker to move Stubbs to a different spot in the lineup. Maybe it’s time for me (and others) to give up on that deal. Considering that we have heard and read that Stubbs is not a fan of batting at the top of the order, it may just all work out for the guy. When Baker moved Stubbs to the #7 spot last season, he did revive his bat a bit.

There is one tool that Stubbs possesses that does strike fear into opponents…his speed. As in he is 23 of 27 (85%) for this season and 63 of 77 (82%) for his career. And that speed aids him in one area where I feel he is undersold…his defense.

When you put Stubbs in center, Chris Heisey in left (and I am not stating that is my preference for the position. I’m just saying this here), and Jay Bruce in right, you have potentially the best defensive outfield in the majors. With his long strides and speed together, Stubbs covers as much ground as any center fielder in baseball. Where I feel he is shortchanged is that he rarely makes that spectacular diving catch, an aspect where he does receive some criticism. And his arm is also a bit undervalued, too.

So, he has speed, a good arm and glove, and some pop, too. He hits a long ball every 28 PA (41 HR in 1,144 PA). The only tool missing is that one that has seen him removed from leadoff, as I reviewed earlier, hitting for average. And along with that is the extremely high strikeout rate. Stubbs leads the majors with 111. He is on pace for 200+ and it appears there’s not a lot to do about it.

But when he does make contact, his BAbip is very good (.351).

Before we deliver harsh statements concerning Stubbs, we all must remember one thing (myself included): he’s only in his second full season…so I can somewhat live with the high strikeouts and lower than desired batting average. For all the flaws that we like to point out in Stubbs, he has done some good things thus far in 2011. He does rank third in the NL with those 23 thefts. His 55 runs scored slots him in the fourth position within the NL. Now, both numbers (especially runs) may suffer a bit due to the switch in batting order.

I know has mostly sounded like a retrospect of Stubbs and his short MLB career, but I felt the need cover all of this when assigning a midterm grade for the center field position. And, no, I have not forgotten that Chris Heisey has started a couple games in center. Heisey may get a chance for a couple over the next week or so in order that Stubbs can recharge. Heisey’s numbers as a center fielder are not impressive aside from the 3 HR game he recently threw at us. In fact, his numbers are even less impressive as a CF than they are in RF.

That midterm grade: B-. Yes, the massive number of strikeouts combined with mid-.250’s batting average do leave room for improvement. Do I expect it? Some.