There has been a lot of talk about what the Rays need to add to the mix this offseason, with most pointing to right field.
That got us to wondering how Rays right fielders performed this past season and what they need to produce in 2009. In 2008 Joe Maddon ran nine different players out to right field (remember Nathan Haynes?). Let’s take a look at the Rays’ offensive splits based on position…
Right fielders were far from the worst offensive position for the Rays. In fact, only first base and third base outperformed right fielders in terms of OPS. But right field is a position where a manager should expect run production. When compared to the rest of the AL, Rays right fielders were well off the pace in 2008, ranking 10th in the AL in OPS.
Many GMs in baseball hope to build a ballclub that is at least league average at all positions, and above average at a few positions. By that logic, the Rays need a serious upgrade in right field in 2009. In order to jump into the top half of the AL, Rays right fielders need to increase their OPS by 40-45 points in 2009.
We can also see that the Rays were near the bottom in offensive production from left fielders. That should improve with a healthy Carl Crawford. From 2005-2007, Crawford posted seasons of at least .800 OPS each year. An .800 OPS from left fielders in 2008 would have placed the Rays fifth in the AL.
We decided to take this one step further and see how the Rays offensive production broke down by batting order position…
In addition, we see that the #6 hitters were atrocious in 2008. This spot was usually filled with a right fielder or a DH. The Rays need a considerable upgrade in order to just reach league average.
So when looking at the pool of available right fielders, keep in mind that the Rays will prefer to add either: a) a full-time right fielder capable of an OPS of at least .815 or; b) a right-handed hitting right fielder that hits lefties to the tune of .840 or greater. The latter is needed if platooned with Gabe Gross who posted a .790 OPS against right-handed pitchers in 2008.