Who Are These Guys? Terrmel Sledge

Terrmel Sledge has been a promising prospect for years. Now the question is can he crack the everyday lineup to show his stuff

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Terrmel Sledge's Vitals

27-year-old left fielder, 6-0, 185. Bats and throws left. Career BA .269, OBP .336, SLG .462, 15 HR, 62 RBI in one major-league season.

Quick Take

The organization's minor league player of the year in '03, he struggled early last year, but found his groove as the year progressed.

Sledge Rundown

Handed an everyday role in the outfield after his stellar 2003 performance in the minors, Sledge started the season 1 for 34 and emerged from April with a .122 batting average. In May, he was fined for a strange incident in which an umpire complained after Sledge threw a bat near him after popping up. Coincidently, it was right around that time that he started to find his stride at the plate. From May on he hit .284 and started to live up to the hype.

To continue his improvement, Sledge needs to hit with more power; 15 homers out of your left fielder isn't going to cut it. As he progressed in the minors, he backed off the plate and was pulling the ball with authority. He needs to learn to do that in the bigs. With even a modest improvement in power Sledge should earn the opportunity to play every day.

Another route to regular playing time for Sledge could be through the leadoff spot in the lineup. While he's not the classic, old-school leadoff hitter he's fast enough. His OBP would have to improve some for him to be truly effective there but he did have two seasons in the minors where his OBP was near .400, so there is a prospect that it could get better.

In the field, he'll worry more about being in a position to field the ball on the hop rather than about going all-out to make the diving catch. The net result will be more singles for the other team but fewer extra-base hits and errors.

There is something of a cloud surrounding Sledge. In October of 1993, while trying out for the US Olympic baseball team, he tested positive for steroids. As the test came in the context of international competition there were no sanctions from baseball at the time.

At 27, Sledge is getting a bit too old to be considered a prospect. Should he show the expected improvement from his rookie year to 2005, he will be a big plus in the lineup for the Nationals. Even if he levels off at his post-May '04 numbers it will be hard to keep him off the field.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .250 BA, 10 HR, 50 RBI
Upside: .280 BA, 20 HR, 80 RBI

To find Terrmel Sledge's career stats on Baseball-Reference.com, go to http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/sledgte01.shtml

To find previous player profiles in the "Who Are These Guys?" series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at CapitolDugout.com and search for "Nationals".

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