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2016 LSU Baseball Season Preview: Outfield

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The only returning starter looks to provide consistency in the grass.

Jake Fraley with all the returning members of the LSU outfield
Jake Fraley with all the returning members of the LSU outfield
Adam Henderson

Petr Cech, former Chelsea and current Arsenal goalkeeper, is said to be worth anywhere between 12 and 15 points alone. In the same regard, LSU's outfield comprised of Laird, Stevenson, and Fraley were likely worth the same amount of runs saved last year.

In a somewhat shocking twist, both Laird and Stevenson, the two speediest and best defensive outfielders, decided to forgo their senior years for the chance to play in the NL East. Left behind to fill the gaps are:

#8 Jake Fraley (JR, L/L)

2015: .307 AVG, .427 SLG, .373 OBP, 35 RBI

Recipient of the coveted #8, the baseball version of #7 in football, by proxy of being the only defensive starter returning, Fraley is coming off a year where he secured a starting spot and produced. I can't believe I'm saying this about a guy with a .307/.427/.373 slash, but Fraley was far from the biggest offensive threats last year. Even Mark Laird, the epitome of a defensive starter, was better at the dish. However Fraley is great at minimizing damage at the plate, striking out only 24 times, 2nd least among starters, and only grounding into one double play. Minimizing damage is great, but LSU will need him to provide more than "death by singles" this year.

Defensively, Fraley is good but isn't particularly anything to write home about. He'll probably move from left field to center by proxy of being the most proven outfielder, but I wouldn't expect him to produce the same amount of show-stopping diving catches Stevenson did.

However, Fraley is absolutely brilliant on the basepaths:

#24 Beau Jordan (SO, R/R)

2015: .219 AVG, .250 SLG, .359 OBP, 4 RBI

Only able to crack the starting lineup four times but appearing in 20 games, Beau (not to be confused with his twin Bryce, who plays catcher and utility infielder) was serviceable in spot duty, and has potential to be this year's big bat in the lineup. However, what makes Beau special is that he's not boom or bust with the bat. Jordan is very good at working counts and taking what the pitcher gives him, knowing when to not swing for the fences or get caught being over aggressive. It's a small sample size with only 32 at bats, but that trait is reflected in last year's stat line.

Defensively...from what limited action I've seen from Jordan, he'll probably be placed in right just because he'll be the worst starting outfielder. Jordan has a strong arm but doesn't exactly cover ground like a speeding bullet.

#5 Cody Ducote (JR, R/R)

2015: .442 AVG, .755 SLG, .490 OBP, 68 RBI

A transfer from Delgado, Ducote lead the Dolphins in every major statistic en route to a NJCAA World Series appearance. Fearless Leader Paul Mainieri called Ducote "the best bat to come out of New Orleans since Mason Katz"  and if that doesn't entice you a bit then I don't know what to tell you (coincidentally, Ducote wears the same number Katz did, will possibly play the same position, and went to Brother Martin, rival of Katz' Jesuit). Ducote has power to take a hanging slider out to The Intimidator, but more often than not relies on contact to see him through, tapping 19 doubles last year in 48 games. Ducote is also fluent in working counts, drawing 21 walks to 16 strikeouts while sitting in the heart of the order.

You're likely to see Ducote out in left field on opening night, but he may be shuffled around as best seen fit by Mainieri. Ducote fielded .948 at Delgado, which isn't bad but it's not exactly good. Let's put it this way: last year Ducote had more errors alone than LSU's entire outfield had combined.

#20 Antoine Duplantis (FR, L/L)

A freshman from Lafayette, Duplantis is a much needed defensive player. Hailing from a track background, Duplantis can fly as shown by his senior year at Lafayette High where he recorded 11 doubles, five triples, and 27 stolen bases in 145 plate appearances.

However, Duplantis needs some development at the plate, and by "some" I mean "a good bit". Eventually Antoine can fill into the mold of Mark Laird, a contact savvy hitter who earns his salt out in the grass but that likely won't be this year.

#14 Brody Wofford (FR, L/R)

Wofford is a raw hitter who right now suffers from pull tendencies, but that doesn't mean he will come May. Still, he batted .515 his senior year at Model HS in Rome, GA, which is extremely good but doesn't apply to SEC pitching and defense.

Brody played short in high school but for reasons unknown Mainieri is willing to give him a shot in a corner outfield spot. I think Wofford will get his first few starts out in right during the midweek games and if his bat is seen as too valuable to be left on the bench, then maybe he'll be transferred back to the infield.

#6 Brennan Breaux (FR, L/L)

Breaux is a two way player, able to pitch as well as well as play outfield. I think eventually he'll pitch, but for now I think he'll spend his freshman year with a bat in hand.

The Scott native is rangy in the outfield and knows how to defend, but is more on the "liability" side when it comes to the plate. Expect to see him make appearances against midweek competition, but don't expect him to be a starter in those games.