After the magic that was the 2010 postseason, the Giants and their fans can be forgiven for disappointment in Cody Ross‘s 2011 performance. Ross only managed 14 home runs and a .405 slugging percentage in 121 games in San Francisco after slugging .686 with five homers in 14 games during the Giants’ run to the 2010 World Series. Everybody knew the clock would eventually strike midnight, however, and in the end the Ross the Giants ended up with was very similar to the Ross the Marlins had no problem giving away for free on a waiver claim: a very average outfielder.
Unsurprisingly, then, the market around Cody Ross collapsed as better options filled rosters throughout the winter. The 31-year-old finally found a home Monday, as Ross and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal.
Ross has effectively defined the average hitter over the last two seasons. Between his time with Florida and San Francisco, the righty has posted a .256/.323/.410 slash line, good for both a 100 OPS+ and a 100 wRC+. Although Ross has played his fair share of center field over the course of his career, of late he has been restricted to the corners, starting just 75 games in center field over the last two seasons. He seems competent in the corners, both based on the numbers and the eye test, but that’s not enough to make him worthy of too many starting jobs in right or left field. However, as just one piece of an outfield puzzle, he could make a big difference in Boston.
The Red Sox were supposed to be one of the best offenses ever last season, with many discussing the possibility of a 100-run season. But the right fielders didn’t cooperate — Sox right fielders finished with a league-worst 75 wRC+ out of the right field position as J.D. Drew, Josh Reddick, Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald largely failed to produce. Only McDonald remains in the organization for the 2012 season. Ross joins trade acquisition Ryan Sweeney as candidates for the right field position, and together, they should form a solid platoon, one that should be a definite upgrade over the sad sack that was the 2011 group.
The fit is natural — Sweeney forms the left-handed side of the platoon to Ross’s right-handed side. Sweeney provides good defense and a solid .296/.352/.402 line against right-handed pitchers and Ross packs the pop — .282/.349/.563 — against lefties. The fit is natural, and the Red Sox should highly benefit from the combination, turning two mediocre players into above-average production in right field should everything go according to plan.
At just three million for one year for the perfect platoon partner for arguably their weakest position, the Red Sox come away from this one with a steal. Ross adds power from the right side they desperately needed and completes their outfield. In a division where every win matters, these little moves could pay big dividends come the end of the season. Maybe Cody Ross can be a hero yet again.
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