We are about to start digging into our off-season 25-man and 40-man roster projections for 2010. But before we do, it will help if we have a good idea of where the Rays can improve.
Most teams set a goal of being at least average at every position and above average at a few positions. A .750 OPS might be good for the catcher position. But that same OPS doesn’t cut it for a position like right field that is expected to produce offensively. And as much as Joe Maddon likes to play matchups, it makes more sense for us to look at production by position rather than individual players.
So let’s take a look at how the Rays performed at the plate by position and look at how each position compares to the rest of the AL…
And if wOBA is more your flavor, we have that also (but without league average)…
A few notes on the above tables…
- It is no surprise that 3B (Evan Longoria) and LF (Carl Crawford) carried the Rays this season offensively, with both positions ranked in the top 3 of both OPS and wOBA
- The four positions that were below-average in 2010 were C (Kelly Shoppach, John Jaso, Dioner Navarro), 1B (Carlos Pena), DH (Pat Burrell) and RF (Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce).
Unfortunately, the four spots that were below-average will likely be filled by the same players in 2011 or by players that were back-ups this season.
Of those positions, only DH has a good shot at being filled from outside the organization (Jim Thome?). If Pena is not re-signed, look for Dan Johnson or Zobrist at first base. Shoppach and Jaso are likely to remain the platoon behind the plate. If no free agents are signed, Johnson, Aybar and Joyce could get the majority of at bats at DH. And right field will continue to be roamed by Joyce and Zobrist.
Meanwhile, one of the Rays two best offensive players (Crawford) will likely be replaced by a rookie (Desmond Jennings).
The Rays need a lot of improvement from their offense in 2011. Unfortunately, we have no idea where that is going to come from.