Devil Rays 7, Yankees 6 (10 innings).
It is easy to talk about how good a hitter Dioner Navarro has been on the morning after he hit a walk-off extra-inning home run to beat the hated Yankees.
But exactly how good has Navi been in the second half? Since the All-Star break, Navarro is hitting .293/.348/.494. He has hit 8 home runs and driven in 31. He has the 3rd highest OPS (.842) of any catcher since the break, trailing only Jorge Posada (1.061) and Chris Snyder (.932).
Compare that to his first half numbers and we have the ultimate “Tale of Two Hitters”. At the break Navi was hitting .177/.238/.254 with 1 home run and 13 RBI. His OPS of .491 ranked 33rd among catcher with at 150 plate appearances…DEAD LAST.
All this is makes for a neat story about a guy that finally found his stroke in the 2007 season, but at this point, of bigger concern to us is: What can we expect from Dioner Navarro in 2008? Will he maintain his second half pace into the 2008 season? Will he continue to develop and post numbers in 2008 even better than his 2007 second half numbers? Or…are the second half numbers the result of a “hot streak” and the true Dioner Navarro is somewhere in between his first half and second half totals?
On June 22, Navi was hitting .170 and we presented some numbers to indicate that Navi’s poor first half was just as much the result of “bad luck” as it was poor hitting. In short the number of line drives he was hitting should have been translating into more base hits. And in the second half a lot more of those line-drives started finding holes.
Also keep in mind that Navarro is posting an .842 OPS as a catcher in the second half of a season. The second-half of a season is when catchers are supposed to wear down and slow down. If Navi had posted an .842 OPS in the first-half, would anybody be clamoring for the Rays to bring in a free agent catcher next season? Not likely.
But the most telling stat about Lil Pudge is 24. As in that will be Navi’s age on opening day in 2008. Anybody want to take a guess as to what Jorge Posada’s numbers were when he was 23? Try .255-8-51…in AAA! *Broken Record warning* Catchers are notoriously slow developers as hitters.
So what can we expect in 2008? Can Navi develop a power game and hit 25 home runs? Not likely. He isn’t exactly threatening the catwalks or the center field restaurant with his home runs. Most of them are line drives that scrape the top of the wall. But we do believe that when Navi fully develops he is a .320-.330 hitter. He hits a ton of line drives and he has excellent plate discipline.
Our conservative guess for Navarro’s 2008 line is .300-15-70 with a .370 OBP. For a catcher that is above-average defensively, that is plenty of offense.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- No surprise here. Carl Crawford will not play in the final week. [Devil Rays]
- Joe Maddon met with Akinori Iwamura and asked him to work out at second base in the off-season. [TBO]
- Gary Shelton says that this last place finish feels a lot different from years past and that there is hope for the years to come. But the most telling question that Shelton asks is: “How in the heck did this team finish last, anyway?” [tampabay.com]
- Buster Olney brings up the possibility of Barry Bonds playing for the Devil Rays, suggesting that the Rays and the Royals could be his only options for 2008. We find it hard to believe that a 73 year old Bonds is going to sign a subpar contract to play for a non-contender. Not to mention is the upgrade to Bonds at $5-8 million worth it, when the Rays have Jonny Gomes and Rocco Baldelli (not to mention Elijah Dukes) at DH at les than half the price? This is a non-story. [MLB Trade Rumors]