In 2004, Aaron Rowand had a breakout season as an everyday player for the Chicago White Sox. Rowand hit .310 with 24 homeruns that season and seemed destined for a long future with the Sox. Last season, while the team surged, Rowand hit a bit of a tailspin and finished well under his 2004 numbers, hitting .270 with just 13 homeruns. Ironically, he drove in 69 runs in each season with Chicago. So, which set of numbers better reflects what Aaron Rowand will do on a more consistent basis in the majors? As is usual with a situation like this, the truth is probably somewhere in between the two seasons.
In case you're thinking that coming to Citizens Bank Park will give Rowand a big lift in power numbers, forget it. U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago is pretty homer friendly for players, so Rowand won't see that much of an advantage. Of Rowand's 43 homeruns over the last three seasons, 25 of them came at home, which is just a bit over an even split. In other words, he didn't really get much of an advantage in homeruns from playing at U.S. Cellular.
So, will changing leagues help Rowand? Again, looking at the last three seasons, Rowand has hit .336 against National League teams, while hitting at a .282 clip against the American Leaguers. That may be one stat that will favor Rowand putting up better numbers in the NL than he had in the American League. His power numbers were slightly better against National League teams as well, with Rowand hitting one homerun every 22.3 at bats against the NL and one every 29.4 at bats in the AL. Just for the record, Rowand hit .600 (6-for-10) with 2 homeruns and 6 RBI against the Phillies in the last three seasons. If you subtract his numbers against his new team, his average against the NL would fall to .315 and his at bats per homerun numbers would be at one homerun every 31 at bats.
Homeruns: In his career, Rowand has homered once every 30.5 at bats, playing half his games in what is considered to be a pretty good homerun park. He should find Citizens Bank Park to his liking, although it's difficult to tell just how much the longer porch in left field will affect hitters. There are various theories to how much of an impact moving the left field fence back will have.
RBI: Rowand has never been a huge RBI guy and doesn't figure to be in the future. That shouldn't matter too much, since the plan is for him to bat second and be more of an on-base and move the runner type of hitter, with an occasional drop down to sixth or seventh in the order if things need to be shaken up. If Jimmy Rollins can get on base and swipe a bag here and there, Rowand could have a shot at some early RBI by driving him in from second.
OBP: Since he'll be hitting second, Rowand could help himself and the club by improving on his .337 career on-base percentage. In 2004, he had an on-base percentage of .361 and the Phillies would love to see him climb back much closer to those types of numbers this season.
Projections For 2006