Part of a Series
Aaron Rowand was drafted in the (supplemental) first round out of Cal State Fullerton in 1998. At the time, he was projected as more of a corner outfielder. His minor league numbers were good, but not great. His most impressive skill seemed to be his power, averaging about 20 HRs per 500 ABs. He excelled at nothing, but was a very good all-around player. He never quite blossomed into a top prospect, though BA did rank him as high as #2 in the Sox system.
In 2001, he began play for the White Sox as a 4th outfielder. He was used mostly as defensive replacement for Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee, though he did receive 29 starts in center field. Jerry Manuel viewed Rowand as his best defensive outfielder, though not much of a threat at the plate, despite his .293/.385/.431 batting line.
2002 saw Rowand again being the team's 4th outfielder. This time to Kenny Lofton. When the Sox faded, Lofton was traded, and Rowand saw his first full-time action in CF. He was disappointing, batting just .258/.298/.394 in 300 ABs, but showed a very underrated glove.
Rowand had a motocross accident following the 2002 season. He was supposed to be rehabbed enough to be the starting center fielder in 2003, but it was clear after one month of .140/.210/.175 ball that this was not the case. Rowand rehabbed in AAA, and posted a .381/.408/.629 line for the Sox the rest of the season. Carl Everett was brought in to be the Sox center fielder just as Rowand had heated back up, limiting his at-bats the remainder of the year.
2004 was the first year that Rowand had the starting center field job from the start of the season, had the support of his manager, and was completely healthy, concurrently. The result was a career year (.310/.361/.544) that nobody saw coming. Rowand signed a 2-year deal, with an option for a third, following his 2004 breakout campaign.
2005 was more about Rowand's defense than anything. Despite hitting just .270/.329/.407 Rowand almost matched his 2004 WARP total(6.9 in '04 to 6.0 in '05) by increasing his defensive prowess.
Between 2000 and when Rowand took over full-time duties in CF in 2004, the Sox employed Chris Singleton, Jose Valentin, Kenny Lofton, and Carl Everett, as the main options in center. Brian N. Anderson and Chris ? Young look like solid replacements for Rowand in the future. -- I think that Anderson can match Rowand's '05 season (both offensively and defensively) in '06, and this offseason, which both Boston and NYY need CFers, would be the perfect time to move him.
2005 Postseason Highlights: ??? nothing really stood out. He scored some key runs, but the plays I really remember were the baserunning blunders.