We are one-third of the way through the season. Let’s take a look at how some of the Rays hitters are performing in terms of wOBA. If you are not familiar with wOBA, just think OPS, but better (check this link for a quick explanation).

Notes on the table are below…

Notes on the table

  • wOBA is on an OBP scale which makes it easier to get an idea of what is good and what is not good. The cutoffs are somewhat arbitrary but generally, .380 and above is excellent and anything below .330 is not very good.
  • The Rays as a team have a wOBA of .333, which ranks 6th in the AL. It also happens to rank 4th in the AL East.
  • A couple of names that stick out are John Jaso and Dioner Navarro. We have been a bit harsh on Jaso’s defense recently. That was more of an FYI. There is no way the Rays can demote a guy with a .385 wOBA. Not happening. We are just going to have to live with the defense and hope it gets better.
  • Sean Rodriguez had a big hit the other night, but overall he is having a rough season. One has to wonder if he is the odd-man out should the Rays decide Matt Joyce is ready to be promoted.
  • Obviously wOBA for players like Kelly Shoppach and Hank Blalock mean little or nothing due to such a small sample.
  • Yesterday, Steve Slowinski of DRays Bay took a look at how wOBA has fluctuated during the season for some of these players. [DRays Bay]
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12 Comments

  1. ramedy says:

    Sean Rodriguez is a platoon player at this point, so it's not entirely fair to judge him on overall wOBA. His splits are quite extreme - .367 vs. LHP, .252 vs. RHP. This basically makes him a younger, more versatile (infield and outfield) version of Kapler.

    Except Kapler's wOBA splits are completely loopy so far this year: .283 vs. LHP, .316 vs. RHP. It's probably safe to say that his RHP number will regress, but what about his LHP? I know .283 is well below his career number of .356, but he's no spring chicken. His line drives are way down so far - is that just a slump, or could it be a sign of an aging swing?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Two things to consider: 1) are the Rays ready to cut short Rodriguez' development and make him a platoon player? He is only 25. Then again, Joyce is almost 26 and they have made him a platoon player. Of course, Joyce is a corner outfielder. Does that make a difference? And while I have no doubt Joe Maddon would love 18 platoon players, there is a roster limit. Some of these guys need to eentually learn to play everyday; 2) Kapler does haves body of work. He sample size for the splits are kinda small (so are Rodriguez). So I would think the Rays would lean towards trusting his career numbers. But they also need to do their self-scouting and evaluate his skills. Maybe he is declining and can't get up. If that's the case, then it is time to cut Kapler.

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      • ramedy says:

        Good point about Rodriguez. From what I can tell he's not usually this bad against RHP - maybe getting regular playing time in Durham is best for him at this point. Then again, if he goes back down and hits AAA like he hit in spring training, what more could there be for him to learn down there?

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  2. Don says:

    Look at Rodriz's strike outs...do we need another platoon/position player who strikes out all the time? Isn't Pena and Upton enough....Even Navarro (Mr. 200) doesn't strike out near as much!
    Brig., Bartlett, Zo is itl for the infield...we need "hitting" outfielders..we have one.... CC (not counting Zo) and they want to give him away...go figure!

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  3. Hal says:

    Can somebody please specify what about Jaso makes him such a poor defender? I think that this is train of thought is reputation based and not performance based. His defensive numbers are fine.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Just to explain, I was a catcher through college and even coached catchers for 2 years.

      The best way to explain Jaso's defense is that he is too mechanical. Almost robotic. Catching is a lot like pitching in that every part of the body works together in unison. Only it is harder, because instead of knowing what to do ahead of time, you are reacting to what the pitcher and/or baserunner are doing.

      So, a lot catching needs to be instincts, and it doesn't look like Jaso has very good catching instincts. He knows what to do. And generally he knows how to do it. But he is not very smooth. And often his reactions are too slow or even non-existent.

      Take a wild pitch. I don't think Jaso reacts well to pitches that miss their spot by a wide margin. A lot of the times he will reach for a pitch without moving his body. Some catchers do that out of laziness. I don't think Jaso is lazy. I just think he doesn't react instinctually.

      Now take throws to second. The body has a series of steps that need to be completed to get the throw to second. Catch the ball, popup, ball to the ear, snap the throw, etc. Step A is followed by step B, is followed by step C, etc. A good throwing catcher blends all those steps into one fluid motion. To do so requires that Step B start before step A is even finished. Same for the rest. But with Jaso it looks more like he is literally thinking to himself, "ok, catch the ball. Ok, now pop up..." it makes the throw longer and his motion is too herky-jerky.

      Now again, I don't mean to trash him as a defender. The mechanics aren't terrible, they are just slow. Hopefully, at some point catching will become more natural to Jaso. But right now his catching is like Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting. It's not very good, but it gets the job done.

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      • Michael says:

        While these may be some legitimate criticisms of Jaso's defensive game, it's not like Navi is a gold glover back there either. Outside of that one game (I forget who it was against, I think it was either a Saturday or Sunday game) where he made two really nice defensive plays, I'm pretty sure Navi has made at least one really big mistake defensively in each game. Whether it's a terrible throw, dropping a popup, or failing to block a pitch in the dirt effectively, Navi has certainly been less than stellar behind the plate.

        If you want to say Jaso is bad then I think you have to say Navi has only been slightly less bad, and certainly not so much better than Jaso and Shoppach defensively to make up for how much worse he is with the bat to justify his continued presence on the roster. If they really want to have a catcher they can trust defensively late in close games while completely punting offense from that spot then bring back Michel Hernandez or someone like him.

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          You are absolutely right about Navarro. He is not a very good catcher. I would say he is marginally better than Jaso. The problem is, I know Navi can be good. He'll never be great. But he is definitely one of those catchers that can be lazy. And so I know he can be better. I don't know that about Jaso.

          Also, there are things we just don't know. How much of a difference is Navi over Jaso when it comes to handling the pitchers? I don't know current number, but about a week ago team ERA was almost a run better with Navi behind the plate. Now that also could just be that pitchers have cooled off and it just so happens to coincide with Jaso getting playing time. I don't know.

          Bit what I do know is that Navi has a LOT more experience with most of the pitchers, and that is something that can't be discounted.

          But you are right. Navi is never going to win a gold glove.

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    • Don says:

      Jaso is our BEST catcher by far..but since we now have three catchers on the team...Maddon will feel obligated to play all three..once again deluding the effect of playing the BEST player available...
      DH doesn't count...we have Blalock and Aybar..but Maddon will "catch" all three....watch!

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      • Kevin says:

        It seems like Maddon loves tinkering with the lineup (and especially this year). What would really be impressive is if he can find a way to get all 3 catchers in the line up at the same time. I give him 2 weeks before he finds a way.

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  4. Jason Hanselman says:

    Hard to believe our record is still so fresh even with all these guys under-performing. Nice to see Rowdy Roddy Sean breaking out a little bit of late, but we really need to get Los hot again for the stretch run. He started off scorching and they adjusted against him. The shift is eating him alive, but we need good Los and this is a whole other team.

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