It won’t be long before the Rays are going to have an interesting decision to make.  Jason Bartlett has been on the disabled list since May 30th meaning he would be eligible to come off on June 14th, or tomorrow for the calendar-inclined.  It should be expected that he’ll play a couple of rehab games down on the farm, so he’s all but assured to be back in the show sometime this week.  During a gameday thread today, CubFanRaysaddict pondered what the difference would be if we just continued to roll with Briggy at SS.  After watching the Cajun flash leather all over the place over the last week I thought it was an interesting question that deserved further analysis than an off-the-cuff response.  Below you will find a matrix that can show the different expected outcomes:

In the case of Bartlett I looked at a pessimistic Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) of -5 and an optimistic FRAA of 0, or league average.  The middle number was a weighted 5/4/3 ratio for his Total Zone rating over the last three seasons.  I then took a look at his wOBA in three different scenarios.  Thus far he has put up a wOBA of .298, but ZIPs projects him to finish the season putting up a .327.  His career average is .331.

For simplification purposes we can say that each player is going to get about 350 PA at SS (3.5/game) from here on out which means that we can convert their wOBA to runs with this formula

(wOBA-lg. avg. wOBA)/1.15*PA

Adding in the FRAA component gives us the weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) that you find in each cell of the matrix.  Basically, the only way that Jason Bartlett has one chance of being a positive contributor the rest of the season (optimistic defense, career offense).

We can take this same look at Reid Brignac.  As a younger player that has shown great range thus far I believe that league average defense should be his worst case scenario with +5 defense equally likely and he’s most likely to play at a +3 level.  On the offensive-side he is projected to have a .299 wOBA the rest of the year, while he has been at .350 thus far, and I feel .330 (AL league average) is a fair evaluation.  You can see that he is a better option, nearly across the board compared to Jason Bartlett.  Feel free to use your own numbers for how you think these two will perform the rest of the year.  I’ve given you everything that you need here so feel free to post your inputs and outputs in the comments if you would like.

 
 

17 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Post this kind of tripe at DGaysBay, please.

    • Blake says:

      Yeah you gots to hate all them nerds with their computing contraptions using the facts and that math with da letters in it to make a point.

    • Jason Hanselman says:

      This is why you’re the best.

    • Don says:

      Could there be a “DON” imposter?…this posting ain’t from the smart “Don”…
      But since you asked…I’m not ready to give Bartletts job away to a kid just starting his career…Does anyone remember 2008 & 2009…. we would have been NO where without Bartlett…
      So, If Bartlett comes back… and does his usual good job….Brign. can wait for next year..as the job will be his….. because of money ($)!

      • Jason Hanselman says:

        Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske were pretty good in 2008, we should bring them back.

        • Don says:

          Hank Aaron was pretty good in 1970…you want to bring him back NOW?
          I’m talking about a player off 2 weeks, and has been one of our top 2/3 players the LAST two years…He doesn’t lose his job to a 1st year man believe me..no matter what your stupid figures suggest to you!

  2. Dustin says:

    This is an interesting post, and depth at short is a nice problem for the Rays to have. If the Rays were to decide to stick with Brignac, what can be done with JB? Obviously, he could be traded, but to whom and for what?

  3. I like having JB around for starts at SS vs. LHP, but if we could dump his salary and get a slugger in return (same or separate deals), the offense lost by having Reid hit lefties, would be made up for and more.

  4. Tom says:

    How about a platoon? Take a look at their career OPS.
    Righties Lefties
    Bartlett .696 .833
    Brignac (Majors) .805 .459 (43 AB’s)
    Brignac (Minors) .799 .735

    It is always great to have depth in the middle infield.

    • Jason Hanselman says:

      I think that would be the ideal scenario, provided Bartlett is as big of a team player as they say and yields 70% of the playing time to the guy that can hit the majority of pitchers. I’d love to trade Bartlett, but I’ve been saying that since this time last year and he won’t bring nearly as much back now. I’d really hate to see Briggy or Sean Rod lose PAs just so that Bartlett can play out the string here.

  5. mike says:

    I definitely want the cajun sensation playing everyday next year, but i want bartlett playing well everyday right now so we can trade him for prospects this year. i am hoping we can get a decent aa pitcher or him.

  6. Connie says:

    I’m new at the defensive stats thing – could you explain FRAA? Couldn’t find much on the internet on it

    • Jason Hanselman says:

      Fielding Runs Above Average is just as it sounds. It assumes that the average defender plays at a level of 0. Better players are in the positive, weaker players in the negative. I used the Total Zone data for this exercise that can be found on Fangraphs.com under the fielding section of each player. Here is an explanation of TZ from the creator, Sean Smith:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/total_zone.shtml

  7. Tone says:

    Trading Jason before the end of this “all in” season would be stupid. Better to wait till the offseason. I think JB has more than earned the majority of playing time, leading off might not be a lock though. If they trade him this season then that marvelous depth thing gets less marvelous. Offseason trades are better when you are still contending, next year I see Reid as a very viable everyday SS, but JB will be our man this year. And that is not a problem with me. Trading him this season will (knowing the Rays) send them into a bigger collapse than what is happening now. Remember the Kaz trade? What was it 12 straight losses after that?

    • Jason Hanselman says:

      The part of the Kaz trade that I will remember was finding someone to pay him $25M over the next two years and getting 3 prospects at the same time. Rowdy Roddy Sean has proven to be worth it alone even if Torres and Sweeney never do anything. That trade was a phenomenal raping of a good organization. If we could get a similar package for Bartlett I’d do it in a heartbeat. If the Rays lost 12 games in a row because an extraneous piece was traded then they don’t deserve to win any games.

      • Don says:

        Kaz was a good deal for the Rays if they would have got nobody for him!
        He was an overpaid/underperforming pitcher who couldn’t be a starter this year anyway….so what would they have done with him?

      • Tone says:

        I’m fine with trading Kaz, but in midseason was my complaint. They could have been in the hunt longer last year, but right after that trade they just seemed to give up winning altogether. Trade JB in the offseason if need be, they need him to keep the depth that we all enjoy right now. If he comes back and makes great plays and hits like last year you will be happy and Reid will get plenty of time at 2nd. Joyce should come up to be our DH/sometime outfield fill in vs righties.

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