Maybe the most important stat during Spring Training is playing time. The positions that a player plays, the amount of playing time the players receive, and when that playing time is logged, gives us some insight into what Joe Maddon is thinking as we head towards the regular season.

Playing time is broken down to the early innings (1-5) and the later innings (6+). This is important because playing time early in the game means the player is more likely to face big league competition. And if Maddon thinks a player is ready for the big league roster, or if Maddon wants to see if a player is ready, that player will see more playing time early (our notes on the table can be found below)…

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Notes on the table…

  • Players in grey are on the 40-man roster. Players in cross-shading are minor leaguers that are not in big league camp. These players were either cut already or were brought over from minor league camp to help out on split-squad days.
  • One x-factor we need to keep in the back of our minds moving forward is the absence of players due to the World Baseball Classic. This will be particularly important with respect to Jose Molina and Ben Zobrist.
  • No surprise, but Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton will be the catchers. But both Chris Gimenez and Stephen Vogt have seen time at other positions. Joe Maddon would love to carry three catchers to allow for late-game pinch-hitting, but only if that third catcher can play several positions.
  • James Loney is starting to pull away from Shelley Duncan at first base. Still need to keep an eye on this to see if Joe Maddon is considering a first base platoon.
  • Even though Kelly Johnson is supposed to play multiple positions, it is still surprising to see Ryan Roberts getting more playing time at second base. One thing that helps here is that there is less need for Johnson to get used to his new double-play partner as he and Yunel Escobar have played together before.
  • Shortstop is interesting. Hak-Ju Lee has the most playing time, but it is almost exclusively late in games. Meanwhile, Tim Beckham is getting more looks early in games.
  • Are we heading towards a Matt Joyce-Kelly Johnson platoon in left field? It sure looks that way. And while Johnson is a lefty like Joyce, he fairly even splits in his career (.339 OBP vs RHP, .336 OBP vs LHP).
  • There was some question during the winter about whether Desmond Jennings would stay in left or move to center.  Jennings has yet to play in left field this spring.
  • Is Ben Zobrist going to become a full-time right fielder? He has started one game at second base and one at shortstop. But he has been the main right fielder and Joe Maddon looks to have plenty of other options at second base.
  • Jack Cust is getting a lot of playing time at DH.
  • Not much yet to distinguish Jeff Niemann and Roberto Hernandez in the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation.
  • In our last opening day projection, we had the final two spots in the ‘pen going to the loser of the final rotation spot (Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann) and Jamey Wright. A couple of other names that appear to be in the mix would be Brandon Gomes, JD Martin, Juan Sandoval, and Josh Lueke.
  • For a team without a lot of questions, that seems to be a lot of unanswered questions. Anything else stand out to you guys?
 
 

9 Comments

  1. Lane Meyer says:

    In the absence of an expanded roster it might be nice if rosters could be expanded for the FIRST month of the season too in order to allow players (mostly pitchers) to get to full strength in terms of playing deep into games. My suggestion is an exemption to allow 3 additional roster spots for the first month, 2 of which must be devoted to pitchers.

  2. Gus says:

    Looks like Anderson may have logged the most innings on the squad, albeit quite a few in the late innings. Still producing, so you have to think they’ll get him some more at bats earlier in games.

    Meyers not playing any CF is maybe a bit disappointing. But he’s playing quite a bit too (good thing the arb clock doesn’t start in spring training).

  3. Dave L says:

    1) I would say the white shaded cut off of the 40 man is dead on with none of them having a chance to make the opening day roster barring injury

    2) Cust getting zero playing time in the field eliminates him being on the opening day roster and reduces him to the cheap .Matsui role (in theory not in history) role of power booster to a stalled injured offense.

    3) My theory of Zobrist being the everyday 2nd baseman due to his being by far the best defensive 2nd baseman on the roster has gone straight down the toilet.

    4) The only guy in the Rays org who thinks Myers is a centerfielder is young Wil himself.

    5) Could Giminez be Longos backup at 3rd and not Roberts? He looked comfortable in the game I saw him live last weekend.

    6) Anderson getting more at bats than anybody means he is being given ample chance to prove he belongs on the 40 man.

    7) Vogt, ,Duncan and possibly Chirinos are headed for DFA off the 40 man when the year starts to be replaced by the better of Cust, el Cubano, Bourgouis or Fontenot.

    8) Like Cork convinced and corrected me last week no need to add Myers as an injury addition later is better use of the roster

    But hell its only 10 days in

  4. Alex says:

    Vogt may be taken off the 40 man for Cust, but Leslie Anderson won’t be out on the 40 man. He was DFA 2 years ago for a reason. They aren’t going to put him back on despite the hard on most fans have for him. He’s not good. He has a slow bat.

  5. CJ says:

    Leslie Anderson isnt a slow b at ALEX your a fool if you think that when a guy hits th average he has a AAA and big league spring training! !

  6. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    It’s become beyond obvious that they value Gimenez and are determined to carve out a niche for him. In that same vein, I’m marginally surprised that they haven’t tried him over at 1st.

    Who would you rather have waiting just the outside the 40 man roster bubble Thompson or Anderson (stop and think before you go crazy about how amazing Anderson is)?

  7. MarkE says:

    Interesting that, in your “Notes on the table…”, you didn’t mention Wil Myers. This guy has been one of the most asked questions in ST. And, according to your table, he has played more innings than anyone, in any position. With 60+% of those innings being in the early innings of games. His early inning games outnumber many of the roster players. This gives me hope that we’ll see his power bat in the lineup early in the season.

  8. Bill says:

    Seems to me that its too early to apply playing time to roster and positions yet. I think some of the playing times we’re seeing early to mid ST are driven by the need to do more evaluating. I would think starting mid to late next week that playing times will be more predictive of the organizations leanings. Not saying its useless at this point, just not as indicative as some of the conclusions being drawn imply.

  9. Jim says:

    The more you see this team unfold the more confusing it gets. Too many 2B, LF, and COF types yet limited numbers at CF, 1B, and SS. Versus right handers we have a solid lineup with the positions up for grabs. Jennings, Joyce, Johnson, Longoria, Escobar, Zobrist, Loney, Scott and the catcher of the day. That leaves the other catcher, and 3 players as reserves and potential platoons against lefties. Ideally we have 3 platoons types on the team to replace Joyce, Loney, and Scott who are all weak against left handers. Fuld is not a really a potential platoon but he is our best backup at center. Rodriguez is weak offensively but is our best (aside from Zobrist) backup at short. His career numbers vs lefties would enable him to be a serviceble platoon it he could find an unoccupied position. Roberts is a potential platoon versus left handers but doesn’t really give you the 1B or SS abilities you would like on the bench.. Loney needs a platoon at 1B but Duncan is the only one seeing any time. So aside from the catcher, who don’t you keep? You get to keep 3 of Fuld, Roberts, Rodriguez, and Duncan. If that is not bad enough,, there is a good chance that Myers and/or Guyer work their way onto the team this year. They are both potentially strong bats especially versus left handers. So which 1 or 2 players go when and if that happens. Ideally you end up with 3 platoons types on the team to replace Joyce, Loney, and Scott who are all weak against left handers. Also those platoons should be able to provide backup at CF, 1B, SS, and DH. Offensively my favorites are Myers, Guyer, and Roberts but someone has to pick up 1B skills at a minimum. All in all it is a good problem to have and Joe is just the guy to figure it out

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