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…
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.
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…
|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]