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The fourth outfielder is starting to become a very popular position in the Red Sox organization, as well as the rest of the MLB, and this year is no different. Just like teams in the NHL are learning, it’s always good to have at least two capable goalies, and for baseball teams it’s the same thing. Teams like the Red Sox are starting to implement the fact that having a good backup outfielder is very important and that the player could be considered a starter at any point in the season.
Last year the Sox had Rocco Baldelli and then added Brian Anderson in a mid-season trade that sent another former starting outfielder in Mark Kotsay to the Chicago White Sox. In years past, it was very common to see just three starting outfielders and then maybe another player who could fill in if need be, but that player would be by no means a starter.
Things have changed since then, and the Red Sox continue to keep a viable starter on the bench and rotate him in on a regular basis. That player this season is Jeremy Hermida, who was a starter for the Florida Marlins since coming into the league in 2005. Another potential fourth outfielder is 23-year-old Josh Reddick, whose work ethic has brought his name into the discussion as well.
Jeremy Hermida comes into spring training this season as the potential fourth outfielder, but his position is not secured. Josh Reddick is also trying his luck to make the Red Sox roster and “Hermida’s” spot is what he’s going for.
Once regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Hermida is seen a more of a bust rather than a productive player in the majors. Hermida, who came up the same time as Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur (now with the Mets), has fallen off tremendously since plunging into the league by being the only player to hit a pinch-hit, grand slam in his first plate appearance in Major League Baseball.
His only “productive” season was back in 2007 when he hit 18 homers and drove in 63 runs, while batting .296. Last year, he hit 13 home runs, drove in 47 runs, and had a batting average of .259. The numbers are not very impressive, but are decent for a backup outfielder. This is a good thing, because that is exactly what the Red Sox wanted when they traded for him this offseason.
While his most productive offensive season was in 2007, it was also his worst defensive season. He led the league in errors for a right fielder with nine, and also had the worst fielding percentage at .966. OK, so maybe he’s not the best defensive player.
I predict that he does win the fourth outfielder position and puts up very similar numbers to what Rocco Baldelli put up last season. I think he will hit around .255 with 10 homers, 40 RBIs and maybe a stolen base or two.
The expectations are not very high for Hermida, so any production will be seen as a plus for all Sox fans. As long as he can come in and hit against lefties, that is really all we need him for. He just needs to get on base and drive in a run or two every now and then and I’ll be happy.
Reddick exploded onto the scene last season and has another shot to make the team this spring training. When I say he exploded onto the scene, I mean he really did explode onto the scene. Before he ever suited up back last July, I had never even heard of him, and then he came in and pinch-hit against the Baltimore Orioles, glasses and all.
The next three games he hit three doubles, a home run, drove in two runs, and scored two of his own while hitting .313. Where did he come from? The kid was fearless up at the plate and on the field, something you never really see in a player who was just brought up to the majors for the first time.
Maybe he was too fearless at the plate, because he ended up with an average of .169 and struck out 17 times in 27 games. He did add another home run to his career stats, along with two more RBIs and three runs scored. It was not the best first season, but his lack of fear at the plate was what impressed me the most and I look for him to really battle it out with Hermida to become the fourth outfielder.
I know that Hermida has more experience and that will ultimately lead to giving him the position over Reddick, but I don’t think Reddick will go down very easily. I am very curious as to how he will finish this spring because I do expect him to ultimately take over for Drew in the future when Drew becomes a free agent, and in Spring Training he has the chance to show what he’s got. I think he makes the roster but won’t see too much playing time, unless an injury does occur…and we all know that is very likely.