I know it’s early, and we don’t want to worry too much about statistics. A bunch of hitters on this team have started off slowly, and most of them will probably recover. Similarly, Wilson Ramos won’t hit .364 all season. But one player that does worry me is Rick Ankiel. He’s currently hitting .231/.306/.308, which is pretty much atrocious. I’d be less worried, except last season he only hit .232/.321/.389. Basically, if 2 of his hits were a HR and a triple instead of the 2 singles that they were, he’d be right on pace for last season, with a few less walks. Not good, and not convincing me that he is going to do any better.
In fact, it wasn’t just last season that he hit so poorly. In 2009, he had 404 PAs and hit .231/.285/.387. It’s starting to look familiar. Maybe he’s a .231/.300/.387 hitter. Which would mean his ISO power is decent at .150, but not so great that it can excuse the rest of the junk. It’s not even very good power, it’s better described as “some pop” or something similar. Ankiel is a vet, and he’s played well in center field, but this experiment may quickly be coming to an end. If it does, then who else can they play there?
This may surprise some fans, but Nix has played more CF in his career than any other position. He’s spent about 58% of his innings playing CF, the rest in the corner OF spots. And his fielding has been good there. Over his career his UZR/150 is 9.3 in CF, so it looks like he can field the position. The problem with Nix, though, is his bat. He has started out strong, managing to make the club and then hitting .276/.300/.483 in 30 PAs. The power is still there, but his numbers suggest that he doesn’t walk that much, and it’s true. He is also probably not a .275 hitter in terms of average, as his career numbers are .244/.286/.426. And his best years, really his only good years, were in Cincinnati, a great park for hitters. But, even if he hits .240/.290/.426 from here on out, it may beat what Ankiel can do.
Hairston can play CF still, and the former 2B has had some decent fielding numbers there. Only about 10% of his total career innings have been at the position, but it seems that he won’t embarrass himself out there. The issues is again ability to hit, as Hairston’s best days, which weren’t ever spectacular, are behind him. He’s a career .256/.324/.370 hitter, meaning not enough walks or power, and he’s currently only hitting .167/.265/.300. His versatility might warrant his spot on the roster, but limited his PAs is probably pretty important to the team’s success.
Bernadina is sitting in AAA, waiting to come up, and now may be his chance. He was not good at all in the spring, but in just a few games in the minors he seems to have his form back. He’s hitting .286/.333/.429 and already has 3 SBs. It’s not like he’s tearing up the league yet, but he’s only started 7 games, and perhaps getting hot in AAA will get him back on track and have him ready to play in the majors. What he can do there, is of course, still questionable. But if he improves at all on last season, which including a pretty bad late season slump, he’d probably be the best hitter available.
Other than those 3, there aren’t too many that look ready to fill in. Corey Brown is hitting below .200 in AAA at the moment, and the only other OF who’s hitting in AAA or AA is Jesus Valdez, who is a corner outfielder. I’d think that Nix could get a few starts, at least while he’s hot. When he regresses to where he should be, though, Bernadina is probably the only choice that makes any sense. Unless, of course, they decide to trade for B.J. Upton.