Bill Chastain has his latest installment of “Around the Horn” in which he previews the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays “positions”. This time it is the outfielders. The most telling statement in the piece is a quote from Joe Maddon in which he states that he would prefer to not use Cliff Floyd in right field very often.

“If Rocco is well, that really relieves a lot of outfield pressure,” Maddon said. “That defines that. Rocco backs up in left, Rocco backs up in center, Rocco DHs, then you feel comfortable with Gomes, because you don’t want to put Cliff out there too often, from what I understand. It just doesn’t sound like the wise thing to do [based on his injury history].”

So let’s say that Gomes and Rocco start every game against a left-handed pitcher, and Floyd starts every game versus a right-handed pitcher, with Gomes and Rocco splitting time against right-handers. In 2007 the Devil Rays played 46 games in which the opposing team’s starting pitcher was left-handed, and 116 games versus right-handed pitchers. If all three players remain healthy all season (I know, I know…just appease me for a second) this suggests that the triumvirate will make the following number of starts in 2008…


Player vRHP vLHP TOTAL
Rocco Baldelli 58 46 104
Cliff Floyd 116 0 116
Jonny Gomes 58 46 104

Of course that can (and probably will) be affected by various leg ailments during the season, but the benefit of this situation is that, in theory, none of the players would have to play in the field for more than approximately 60 games, slightly more for Baldelli and/or Gomes if Maddon does limit Floyd to DH duties.

Just prior to the Cliff Floyd signing, we projected what that would mean for the Rays’ right field production in 2008. In that assessment we excluded Baldelli. Now let’s project all three players stats, based on their averages from the past three seasons. In the case of Floyd we will use his averages versus right-handed pitchers and for Baldelli and Gomes we will weight the averages based on the expected number of starts versus lefties and righties.


Player BA HR RBI OBP SLG OPS
Rocco Baldelli .270 17 59 .317 .484 .801
Cliff Floyd .281 20 67 .368 .472 .840
Jonny Gomes .258 21 57 .353 .491 .844


What is interesting about splitting the at bats up in this manner is how similar the stat lines are for all three players. Outside of Baldelli’s OBP, the numbers are nearly identical. When we originally started playing with these numbers, we assumed that in the long run, we could see Baldelli stealing at bats from Gomes, but the numbers show that Gomes would actually post slightly better numbers than the other two.

In the end it appears as though we can expect approximately 58 home runs, 183 RBI and a .829 OPS from two positions. In 2007 Devil Rays’ right fielders and DHs did not fair so well…


Position BA HR RBI OBP SLG OPS
DH (2007) .241 16 63 .329 .378 .707
RF (2007) .281 17 95 .314 .421 .736
RF/DH (2007) .262 33 158 .321 .400 .721
RF/DH (2008 Proj.) .270 58 183 .347 .482 .829


This is not a knock on Delmon Young. We fully expect that Young would have improved his stat line in 2008 had he been manning right field for the Rays. Rather we are just trying to guestimate the level of improvement that the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays RF/DH will have over the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays RF/DH. And if the players remain healthy and perform to their norms, the improvement will be significant.

Or more likely Baldelli will pull a hamstring while sleeping and will miss most of the season. Yeah. Nevermind.

Around the Horn: Outfielders [DevilRays.com]

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6 Comments

  1. Matt Bishoff says:

    Cork,

    Your preaching to the choir my man. I've been saying all along how a platoon for the RF/DH position is the best solution for this 2008 season, and I've also said they will outproduce our RF/DH last season. I pretty much agree with everything you put in that piece, dead on.

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  2. The Professor says:

    I took a lot of beef for the 12 Days of Raysmas Post in which I wanted 5 players with 25 home runs.

    HERE

    If these 3 players can combine for 50-60 home runs, that would satisfy two of those five even if none of the three actually hit 25. Now add Pena and Upton who should each hit 25 and that leaves only one other player that would have to hit 25 home runs.

    Longoria would be the 5th if he were to start the year in Tampa Bay. But alas, that might not happen.

    And that is where Carl Crawford comes in. Day 5 of the 12 Days of Raysmas really just comes down to CC finally displaying the power we have been waiting for. Is 25 home runs too much to ask for? I dont think so.

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  3. Sean says:

    Maybe a slight adjustment from 5 players with 25 HRs to 5 positions with 25 HRs would be along the same lines.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    if Rocco is even remotely healthy this season, his stat should be much better than that.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Rocco who?

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  6. Robert Rittner says:

    "I took a lot of beef for the 12 Days of Raysmas Post in which I wanted 5 players with 25 home runs."
    _________________________________
    I took issue with you at that time, but not because I disagree that it would be a fine outcome. (In any case, I hope you do not see my comments as giving you a lot of beef.)

    So to clarify, I would love to see 5 players-or positions which at that time I was not considering but which is a perfectly legitimate way to think about it-hit 25+ home runs. And I agree with you both that it is possible and that there may be (I stress "may") a link between hitting for power and drawing walks.

    I simply think that the bigger problem for the Rays is getting men on base. In my view the Rays will do better if their home run total falls from 187-167 while their team OBP rises from .336-.356 than if they add some home runs but leave their OBP low or only marginally better. A quick look at the higher scoring teams in the AL shows Boston, Cleveland and Detroit all hit fewer home runs than TB but had higher OBPs, and all scored more runs than the Rays.

    Actually, only one team with a lower team OBP than TB scored more runs. That was the Rangers, but they also hit fewer home runs. On the other hand, the White Sox actually hit more home runs than TB but had a significantly lower OBP and scored 89 fewer runs.

    I am not really disagreeing with you, only suggesting an alternative goal for the team.

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