If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Unlike most team blogs, we do not very often tell you what the Tampa Bay Rays should do. We prefer to live under the premise that the people that run the Rays are smarter than we are, and know many, many more things that even the most learned fan will never know.
However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that the Rays didn’t come through on very many of our wishes, and the result was a somewhat disappointing season. Let’s hope that changes in 2010.
On the eighth day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, EIGHT positions with a .350 wOBA…
Three of the Rays regulars (Dioner Navarro, Pat Burrell, BJ Upton) had craptastic seasons in 2009. And still, the Rays finished 4th in the AL in wOBA (.343).
Here is the breakdown by position including AL rank and how the Rays would have ranked if each position had posted a .350 wOBA…
Four positions failed to post a .350 wOBA in 2009. Let’s look at each of those positions and how they might fare in 2010…
CATCHER: This depends on who the two catchers are and how they are used. As things stand now, Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach will be the catchers and neither can hit right-handed pitching. However, as the most-days catcher in 2007, Shoppach did post a .370 wOBA, so he is capable of producing. But if Navarro gets more than 50 starts, there is little chance of the Rays reaching .350 wOBA at this position.
CENTER FIELD: In 2007, BJ Upton’s wOBA was .387 and in 2008 with a bum shoulder that number was .354. If Upton is healthy and can regain the batspeed he displayed in 2007, .350 should be an easily attainable mark.
RIGHT FIELD: The Gabes o’ the Day (Gabe Kapler, Gabe Gross) in 2009 just missed the mark at .345. Right now it appears as though the Rays are leaning towards a Kapler-Matt Joyce platoon. Kapler had a .334 wOBA last year in the same role. Joyce was at .379 playing everyday at Durham and Bill James has him projected at .359 in 2010. So once again the Rays will likely fall close to the .350 mark and in the middle of the pack in the AL.
DESIGNATED HITTER: What do Pat Burrell and BJ Upton’s dog have in common? They both took dumps on the Trop’s turf in 2009. His .304 wOBA was atrocious. But it was also way off his career-norm. In the two years prior to coming to the Rays, he posted seasons of .391 and .374 and his career mark is .362. The question then becomes: Will Burrell rebound to something closer to a typical season or does he become the new poster-child for “old man’s skills“? We believe Burrell will use the embarrassment of 2009 and the lure of free agency to come to camp motivated for a better 2010. But while he will likely be better, he will probably still fall short of 2007 and 2008. Look for something closer to .350 next year.
If three of those positions can reach the .350 mark and the other positions maintain the status quo, the Rays have a good chance of being the top hitting team in the AL in 2010.