Immediately steps in as the Braves’ best outfielder; he’s their third- or fourth-best position player after McCann, Chipper, and maybe Yunel, depending upon if Yunel has annoyed me recently. I haven’t seen a whole lot of him, to be honest, though when I do he seemed to be beating the Braves. However, his stats against us aren’t really that good. I tend to think that McLouth is better than his statistics. He has a low batting average on balls in play, .282 for his career and just .258 this year. With a more normal rate — even the career .282 — his line this year (.256/.349/.470) would look a lot better. And it’s not a bad line.
McLouth was a 25th round pick in the 2000 draft out of a Michigan high school. (In the 26th round, they drafted Ian Snell. Get two players of that quality in those rounds and — well, you’re still the Pirates, because most of their other picks don’t pan out.) McLouth started at the bottom, as high schoolers taken in the 25th round do, and worked his way up showing hustle, walks, a little power, and baserunning skill. In 2004, he hit .322/.380/.462 and scored 93 runs in AA, and in 2005 split time between AAA and the majors, earning a full-time roster spot in 2006.
But not a full-time job, because the Pirates, being the Pirates, thought that he was a bench player and should be backing up players like Chris Duffy and the 37-year-old Jeromy Burnitz.
The trade of Injuries to Xavier Nady and finally giving up on Duffy helped open a spot for him and he hit 13 homers in 382 AB. Finally the Pirates let him have a full-time job in 2008, giving him centerfield. All he did was lead the league in doubles with 46 while also hitting 26 homers, score 113 runs, make the All-Star Team, and win a Gold Glove, though he probably shouldn’t have the latter. This year, his numbers are down but that’s a batting average thing; his other components are all basically the same as in 2008. He hits lefty (but throws righty); his averages against lefties and righties are about the same, but his secondary offense is much stronger against righthanders.
McLouth is an excellent basestealer, as good as is found outside of Queens; for his career, he is 64 of 69 in stolen base attempts. As I mentioned, he won the Gold Glove last year, but probably should not have. Basically all the metrics say that he is a below-average centerfielder, and he probably should be in right. That may be his ultimate destination after this season. He does seem to have improved some this season, and he rarely makes errors.
Best secondary averages, Major League centerfielders, 2008:
SECONDARY AVERAGE SEC
1 Grady Sizemore .448
2 Carlos Beltran .409
3 Mike Cameron .394
4 B.J. Upton .394
5 Nate McLouth .369
6 Curtis Granderson .363
7 Josh Hamilton .343
8 Chris Young .317
9 Torii Hunter .314
10 Cody Ross .312
UPDATE: Game rained out. Typical.