Michael Cuddyer was drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 1997 draft. He was the 9th player taken overall out of Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Aside from his 2006 season when he hit .284/.362/.504, Cuddyer’s claim to fame was playing on a team with David Wright, BJ Upton, Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, and Ryan Zimmerman.
Defensively Cuddyer has long been known as a solid player. In 2008 his RF9 was 2.31 in RF, which was above the league average RF9 of 2.14, but well below Denard Span’s 2.58. He possessed a very strong and accurate throwing arm which allowed him to rack up 11 outfield assists in 2006, 19 assists in 2007, and 6 assists in 2008. His 6 assists last season came in only 58 games played, so if healthy it is reasonable to estimate he would have been in the mid-teens with his assist total. His career fielding percentage playing RF of .986 is just slightly above the league average of .984.
At 30 years of age, Cuddyer is the oldest of the Twins outfield candidates. Being the oldest he also has the least upside of all their OF candidates. With Cuddyer his career speaks for itself. Offensively he is a slightly above average player with a career OPS+ of 106 and a career line of .268/.344/.441. In his 2346 major league at bats he has hit 75 HR which averages out to 1 HR every 31.28 at bats. 2008 was a down year for Cuddyer at the plate, .249/.330/.369, as he battled through multiple injuries. Both Baseball Prospectus, .261/.336/.423, and Bill James, .272/.351/.435, project him to bounce back in 2009 with an offensive season in line with his career numbers.
The big question with Cuddyer remains whether or not he can ever come close to his 2006 career year. At this point it doesn’t seem likely, especially since his career minor league numbers, .290/.374/.485, are only slightly better than his 2006 season. Even if he could reach the level of 2006 again, would it be worth having him in the lineup instead of one of the younger options the Twins have? Or would it be more advantageous to have Cuddyer coming off the bench as a pinch hitter in tight ball games? The Twins seem to be avoiding both of these questions by having Span play LF, CF, & RF this spring.