Earlier today we told you that Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Tampa Bay Rays are close to signing free agent outfielder Cliff Floyd. The Rays have been in the market for a player that is a left-handed bat and could play right field and occasionally DH.
With the signing of Floyd, the Rays lineup on a daily basis would feature some combination of Floyd, Jonny Gomes and Rocco Baldelli. Against right handed pitchers, Floyd will be in the lineup with Gomes or Baldelli filling the other spot. Against left handed pitchers, Floyd will be on the bench with both Gomes and Baldelli in the lineup in right field and at DH.
The ability to play match-up with his lineups depending on the starting pitcher gives manager Joe Maddon a distinct advantage. However, it is unclear how much how difference this will make to the Rays offensive output in 2008.
To answer this question we looked at how many plate appearances Delmon Young received in 2007 (he played all 162 games) and projected that out as if Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes had platooned in right field. To makes these estimations we used the three-year averages of each player (Gomes vs LHP and Floyd vs. RHP), and projected those over the number of plate appearances that Young had against left handed pitchers (172) and right handed pitchers (509) in 2007.
As can be seen from the numbers…while the batting average are comparable, Rays right fielders in 2008 will be on base at a much higher rate and will produce a much higher slugging percentage, which would lead to a 150 point boost in OPS. If we use the most basic formula for Runs Created (RC=R+RBI-HR), the combination of Gomes and Floyd will produce 162 runs in 2008 compared to the 145 runs created by Young in 2007. (Again…these numbers are only for a hypothetical right-field platoon. These numbers only reflect Gomes’ and Floyd’s production as right-fielders. Gomes will receive considerably more than the 172 plate appearances calculated here).
And none of this considers that a season in which Baldelli logs considerable time at DH, will be a marked improvement over the Rays’ DH production seen in 2007. Nor does it consider the clubhouse impact of a player like Floyd, who is well respected among his peers and fans as a player that will do whatever is asked and often takes the field with injuries that would sideline a weaker human being.
Last month when the Rays traded Delmon Young and two scrubs for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, it appeared as if the Rays had improved their pitching and defense at the expense of the offense. While Cliff Floyd will command a higher salary than Delmon Young in 2008, and clearly Floyd will not be around nearly as long as Young would have been, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays figure to be considerably better on the mound, in the field and at the plate, as a direct result of these two moves.
Source: Rays, Floyd could have deal in place by weekend [ESPN]