Friday, February 03, 2006

Aaron Rowand Poised for Huge Rebound

When Aaron Rowand played for the '04 Chicago White Sox, a team built around such sluggers as Carlos Lee and relying on the homerun for most of its production, he responded with 24 dingers and a .310 BA in 487 AB. When the team altered its strategy to rely on speed, pitching and defense last year, Rowand's numbers declined significantly to only 13 homers while batting just .270 in 578 ABs. That dropoff has Rowand flying under the radar with the Phillies this year despite the fact that he'll likely return to his '04 form as he bats second behind speedster SS Jimmy Rollins and in front of sluggers Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard in Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia park last year was the best homer stadium in the National League after Houston's Minute Maid Park and Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. Rowand has historically done well in the No. 2 hole, batting a lifetime .310 in that spot. As a righty batter, his numbers will be slightly repressed by Philadelphia's decision to remove nearly 200 seats in left field, pushing the fence five feet back and raising it from eight to 10.5 feet. But Rowand's key position in a killer lineup again should more than compensate, especially now that he's coming into his prime at age 29.