Rowand started in left field for the Giants as they defeated the Texas Rangers in their second World Series rematch of the spring, 11-8. It marked the first time that Rowand manned a spot other than center field since he played right field for the Chicago White Sox on June 22, 2004, against Cleveland. Rowand last played left on Sept. 19, 2003, against Kansas City.
Rowand playing LF, even in a spring game, reverses some of the early statements that he’ll only be a CF for the Giants. While I’m no huge Rowand fan, it makes a bunch of sense to at least try to play him in the corner OF spots. Rowand’s three year stint with the Giants has been famously underwhelming. Coming off a season in which Rowand was a 5.6 win player (using fWAR) for the Phillies, the Giants locked up the CF on a five year deal. Since his legitimately great year in Philadelphia, Rowand has been something of a bust in San Francisco — hitting a combined .257/.318/.405 over 401 games. If linear weights are your thing, that works out to a total of -25 runs below average.
Simply put, Rowand hasn’t been a very good player for the Giants. So then, why does it make sense to have him play the corners? I think it’s desirable for a couple of reasons, mainly that Andres Torres becomes the guy, undoubtedly, to play CF. Rowand as a back-up plan for CF isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it was maddening to know that the Giants have one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, and yet Torres played 464.2 innings (out of a total of 1120.1) in the corner OF spots last season — often moving over for Aaron Rowand.
Yeah, the Giants should stop doing that. Moving defense to the side of the discussion, Rowand has shown a platoon
split advantage against LHP in his career (.353 wOBA against) and batting him against LHP would take away the down-and-away slider/breaking pitch that has seemed to have given him so much trouble over the past three years. Moving forward, Rowand profiles more as a back-up outfielder than a starter. Getting reacquainted with playing LF/RF prepares him for that role.