Alejandro De Aza became somewhat of a fan favorite around here last year. He earned that status not only because he wasn't named Alex Rios, but also because he produced big time in his short stint. De Aza put up a .329/.400/.520 slash line in his 171 plate appearances. He was an extra base machine with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers and even stole 12 bases. He has definitely earned a spot in the outfield this year.
On the other hand he will turn 28 years old during opening week. He has had issues with staying healthy, having missed the entire 2008 season with an ankle injury. Also, he is obviously going to regress some. There is no way he can keep up his .404 BABIP from last season. That was proven by his effort during the Dominican Winter League this year where his slash line was .198/.313/.306 in 128 plate appearances. Those stats have to be taken with a grain of salt, but the sample was less than 50 plate appearances shy of the sample that has a lot of people excited about him.
Don't get me wrong. He absolutely has a better pedigree both in the Majors and the Minors than Dewayne Wise did when he was given the starting center field/ leadoff man job back in 2009. He also doesn't have to do very much to be a massive improvement over our outfielders from a season ago.
There is still question marks that surround him though. That is why I was relieved when they signed Kosuke Fukudome. At least now there is a guy that has proven he can be a productive outfielder at the Major League level. With Fukudome, you have nice insurance for all of our outfielders.
I am having a hard time forming an opinion on De Aza. I usually don't have very much trouble doing that. Sometimes it takes one at bat for me to irrationally decide if he is one of "my guys" or not. After yesterday's performance, I have no trouble in saying I will never like Nate Jones.
Where do you guys think he will end up? Is he going to finally break through the glass ceiling and get a full seasons worth of plate appearances? If he does that, will he be productive?
Help me! Should I trust him? Or will he be a bust?