Cal Baseball Preview, Position Players

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This is the second preview of Cal’s final season of baseball. A pitching preview has already been posted; now how does the hitting look?

Mark Canha is the biggest loss from the squad last year, as the first basemen led the team in power hitting and discipline at the plate. He will be sorely missed, as he now takes his game to the Florida Marlins farm system. Brian Guinn also leaves, as the middle infielder is now a Padre. A .327 hitter a year ago, Guinn stole 15 bases and was a solid top of the order bat. Jimmy Bosco and Eddie Hsieh also leave, although neither were fixtures in the lineup. Bosco showed some imposing power potential, but now he will have to show it at the University of Arkansas.

The Infield:

The anchor of the offense is catcher Chadd Krist, who is a huge threat in the #4 slot in the lineup. He led the team in slugging with a .609 mark while also providing solid on base skills. He’s the centerpiece of the Cal lineup. Devin Rodriguez, who played in limited spots last year, fills the big shoes of Canha at first. Rodriguez shouldn’t be expected to replace what Canha did, because that’d be impossible. The sophomore does have intriguing power potential, although his plate discipline is lacking. Tony Renda’s glove has shown to be a bit lacking, so now Dave Esquer will try him at second base. But can he hit! Renda hit .373 a year ago, tops on the team, and also led the team with 21 doubles. With a year of further physical maturity, he figures to have even more power. He and Krist will be the middle of the Bears lineup, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Shortstop Marcus Semien will lead off for the Bears this season. He’s got intriguing speed, and he was the team’s third leading hitter in batting average a year ago. Improving the glove has to be his biggest concern. The final member of the infield is third basemen Mitch Delfino, who’s very good at drawing the free pass to first base. He’s also a .315 hitter, but he provides nothing in the way of power. Austin Booker also figures to see time at second base. Andrew Knapp is a freshman who will see spots in the DH slot and at catcher.
The Outfield:

In Chad Bunting and Danny Oh, the Bears have two solid but unremarkable outfielders. Bunting returns playing center field. A sophomore season that saw him hit .325 looks to give him momentum going into his junior campaign, although he isn’t going to take many walks. His power is solid, with 4 home runs in limited playing time, so hopefully he will show more of it with increased playing time. Danny Oh provides solid base stealing and an inconsistent bat at the bottom of the order. He plays solid defense. Basically, he’s a solid player who won’t hurt the team and also give it some solid production. The other outfield slot, left field, is up for grabs. Booker and JC transfer Vince Bruno will see the biggest share of the time there.

Just like the pitching, the team returns almost everyone. There are two big losses in Canha and Guinn, but the offense can recover from that with improvements across the boards that come with maturity. The offense is very balanced and should be a pain for pitching across the Pac-10. Defense is a potential problem as it was last year, but Cal still has quality position players across the board. Go Bears!