He’s a team captain for 2011. He’s come back for his senior year despite a nice draft status and an offer from the Rays. He’s basically be the keystone to anything Auburn wants to do in the field and on the plate. Quite a load to burden for 1B/DH Kevin Patterson.
Why is KP so important to this year? Starting in the field, where Patterson’s position could shuffle the infield tremendously. I’ll go into the year slotting KP at 1B. It’s not that' there’s any writing on the wall, it’s just seems like that’s a primary reason Patterson returned. KP has a future in the MLB. However, in order to increase his draft stock, he’ll have to improve his defense in the field. During the Spring, Patterson did look a bit comfortable in the field. I’m sure with more reps and some improved players around him that he’ll do just fine at 1B. Even without KP in the field, he can still revert back to DH. However, I think one of the main reasons KP returned was a boom in playing time (and finishing his degree):
"I am coming back because Auburn is a great place to play. Even though I did get drafted, after looking at all my options I felt that coming back to Auburn and playing every day and being in a fulltime role would help me from a baseball standpoint," Patterson said. "More importantly I am two semesters away from finishing my degree. I just had to take a step back and look at the whole big picture. One more year of school in the long run will probably be more beneficial for me."
Still, Patterson’s main role will be as the last holdout from the bomb sqAUd in 2010 and will be desperately needed to (hopefully) fill in any power deficiencies in the Tiger’s lineup.
Above everything else, Patterson will serve as a tremendous litmus test for the 2011 Season.
- How will KP be affected by the New Bat Restrictions?
- Hopefully not by much. KP’s power comes from his size (and his incredible bat speed) and neither one of those should be lost in translation. Still, if KP is struggling and more of his HRs are turning into long flyballs or Texas League doubles then the rest of the lineup should do the same.
- Can KP handle the field?
- Simply? Yes. You’d think with a player of KP’s frame he wouldn’t be limber. However, he’s surprising agile and seems to have taken well to the role in the Spring. However, if KP struggles then that sets up a domino effect. Brooks Beisner / Pat Savage would then move into the 1B role. KP would be relegated to DH and it could (possibly) squeeze Dan Gamache out of the lineup.
- How much will the team need KP?
- Tremendously. He’s a Senior with 4 yrs in the field. He’s the old man in the infield. Patterson will be the team leader and Auburn will need him as a guide and example throughout the year.
On a final side note. I’m hoping KP’s “Kraken” nickname sticks. I’m sure Ole Miss won’t forget when the Kraken was unleashed in Oxford: