With the signing of Hideki Matsui now official, he is expected to report to triple-A in the next couple of weeks. Most, including us, initially assumed that Matsui was simply a cheap insurance plan in case Luke Scott breaks down. But according to Andrew Friedman, Matsui may have a role on this team even if Scott stays healthy.

According to Friedman, the Rays still plan to use Scott at first base and in the outfield as the season progresses. This is interesting because the Rays are already have four strong defenders in the outfield (five if you count Brandon Allen, who is considered a plus-defender) and Scott has not been a decent outfielder since 2008. He was a plus-defender at first base in 2011, but it is unclear if that is a positive trend, or one fluke season.

Here’s a look at Scott’s  per 150 games over the last three seasons (a positive number represents runs saved; 0 is average)…

So would Matsui’s bat be worth the defensive cost of putting Scott in the outfield or at first base? Here’s a look a Matsui’s year-by-year Weighted On Base Average (like OPS but better, and on the same scale as OBP. an average hitter is .330-.340)…

On the one hand, if look at 2009 (age 35) as a fluke season, it appears that his production was already in a steady decline even before falling off the cliff last year. On the other hand, maybe 2011 (age 37) is the fluke, and Matsui was very consistent in the year’s prior.

The Rays are obviously hoping for the latter. But based on his age (38) the former is a real possibility.

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6 Comments

  1. Rob says:

    Seems like we already have a lot of lefty power-type hitters in this lineup --> Scott, Allen, Pena, Joyce. I don't see what Matsui brings to the table these other four don't already provide. The only player he has more conceivable upside than is Allen, but we have already established that Allen is better defensively, so that is somewhat a wash. The other three are all either more talented or younger (or both) than Matusi.

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  2. Dave L says:

    Regardless of what he does for us now he will be a nice bat to have on the bench when we expand the roster later in the year so i am happy we have him. We dont have any major league bats coming off the bench now as it is, except Joyce when they go to the pen after a LSP.

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  3. don says:

    Is it true Maddon is going to take Japanese in college?..How do you say "you looked good swinging" "I liked the effort"
    Davis & Niemann don't get it.... Pena just smiles...

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  4. Bob says:

    We need professional situational hitters if Longo is down, even if they just pinch hit. A lineup with Briggy and Rodriguez (or Elliott) spells a lot of stikeouts with RISP. Matsui is a good, low dollar option, even if he is another lefty. Good pickup.

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  5. Michael says:

    Allen didn't look like a "plus defender" today. The walk-off homer will only carry him so far, and plays like today plus hitting .063, Matsui can't be much worse.

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