Surprise positional outlook: Center field
The departure of Marlon Byrd means Borbon is the primary center fielder for the Rangers. Hamilton will also see some time there, but the Rangers have made it clear that it's Borbon's job. Borbon, who turns 24 on Saturday, was selected 35th overall (supplemental first round) in the 2007 draft. The Rangers believed in him enough that he was put on the 40-man roster as part of his signing out of the University of Tennessee.
Borbon has worked in winter ball and during the rest of the offseason to become a better defensive outfielder and get used to covering all the ground necessary to be a good center fielder.
He certainly has the speed to do it. He had 19 stolen bases in 46 games for the Rangers, including four stolen bases on Aug. 15 against Boston (the team had eight total). He had 25 stolen bases in 96 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City last season as well.
Borbon had only 13 at-bats as a center fielder in 2009. But as we try to give you a glimpse of 2010, some interesting numbers from ESPN Stats & Information:
* Only two active center fielders stole at least 19 bases and had an on-base percentage of at least .375 (Borbon's numbers in 2009) in their second season. That was Denard Span in 2009 (23 stolen bases, .392 OBP) and Juan Pierre (46 stolen bases, .378 OBP) in 2001.
So it won't be easy on Borbon to put up similar numbers. But he clearly can do it, considering he put up the stolen base numbers in just 46 games. Obviously, leading off for a full season in the majors is different than doing it for a few months. Manager Ron Washington could decide to stick a right-handed hitter up there (like Ian Kinsler) at times if he chooses. But he's given indications that Borbon will leadoff against left- and right-handers.
The big question will be the defense. Byrd did a solid job out there and so did Hamilton. Borbon doesn't have the arm of either of those players. But he does have more speed. I'll be curious to see how he does once spring training begins.
Are you looking forward to see how Borbon looks in center field?
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.