Alfonzo: RBI Man

In 2001, Edgardo Alfonzo had a horrible season, but in 2002 he rebounded and hit above .300 with solid power. He is expected to improve on these numbers and drive in about 100 runs batting behind Barry Bonds.

The Giants have not had a serious power threat at third base since Matt Williams in 1996. Of course, to make up for that loss, they had a serious threat at second base from 1997 until 2002. Now they have lost the huge power threat at second, so have they gotten one at third?

The answer? Not quite. Alfonzo is not quite as dangerous in terms of home runs as Matt Williams was in the mid 90's. But don't count Alfonzo out. What he lacks in raw power, he makes up for this weakness with a good OBP and a high batting average.

When Matt Williams was 28 in 1994, he hit .267-43-96 in only 112 games. This was the year that the players strike ended baseball about 2 months early. Some projected him to beat Roger Maris's then-record total of 61 home runs in a single season.

However, Williams also had 87 strikeouts, and only 33 walks, which lead to an unimpressive .319 OBP. Combined, his OBP and slugging percentage were .926.

Last year, in the 2002 season, Edgardo Alfonzo was also 28 years of age. He hit .306-16-56 in 135 games of play. Looking just at those three stats, Alfonzo was much worse than Williams was in 1994. This is not the case, however, when one looks at other numbers. He had 62 walks and merely 55 strikeouts, pushing his OBP up to .391. His OPS (OBP + SLG) was .850. Despite hitting nearly three times as many home runs, Williams had an OPS only 76 points higher than Alfonzo. This shows the effect of patience and a high batting average.

2002 was not even Alfonzo's best year, nor was it his worst. In 2000, he went .324-25-95 in only 544 at-bats. He also hit 40 doubles that year. 2001 was an off-year of .243-17-49. While his 2002 numbers are not up to par with his 2000 stats, they represent a big step forward from his disappointing 2001 season.

In 2003, I expected Alfonzo to blossom in terms of RBIs for one reason. Namely, Barry Bonds. With all the intentional walks Bonds will be receiving as the season will go one, Alfonzo will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

So far in 2003, Alfonzo has had mixed results. He's walked a lot, 8 walks in his first 7 games, but he's only had 5 hits in 21 at bats for a .238 batting average. However, I expect that average to improve rapidly.

He hit his first home run, a 2-run blast, on Apr. 7 against San Diego, in a 7-4 Giants victory.

All in all, I expect him to hit .315 with 20 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. He will be a solid 5th place hitter, less powerful yet more patient Jeff Kent.

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