While most people over-obsess about batting average, home runs, and ERA in the spring, 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 into total innings played in the early innings (1-5) and the later innings (6+). This is important because 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. These are the players that are most likely to be on the opening day roster. Players in white are players on minor league contracts with an invite to spring training. Maybe one or two of these players will make the opening day roster. Players in cross-shading are minor leaguers that have already been cut or were brought over from minor league camp to help fill out a game roster. This happens most often on split-squad days and travel days. These players have no shot to be on the opening day roster.
  • In the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, notice that both Nate Karns and Jake Odorizzi have only seen batters in the latter parts of games. On the other hand, both Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard have started games. We were projecting Odorizzi as the fifth starter. But this suggests that Bedard is the front-runner and Ramos is the next guy in if Bedard falters or isn’t healthy.
  • At catcher, Ryan Hanigan has received more playing time so far, but this may not mean much. Jose Molina knows the starting pitchers already and Maddon would probably prefer to rest him as often as possible early on.
  • We have been projecting both Sean Rodriguez and Logan Forsythe to make the opening day roster. So far, Forsythe has seen playing time at second base and third base. Hot Rod has seen time at second base, third base, and shortstop. It’s too early to draw conclusions, but it’s worth noting that Rodriguez has not played first base or the outfield yet.
  • On the other hand, Jerry Sands has seen a lot of time at first base and some time in both left field and right field. Most of that playing time is later in games. But it is worth keeping an eye on as he could take a spot from either Rodriguez or Forsythe especially if no other backup first baseman emerges.
  • David DeJesus has not seen any time in center field yet. You can make an argument that DeJesus is the superior defensive center fielder and Jennings has experience in left field. However, that does not even appear to be on Maddon’s mind.
  • Brandon Guyer is getting a lot of looks in left field and right field. As of now we have him projected to make the roster as a backup outfielder and occasional DH.
  • Will Myers is getting a lot of DH at bats early on. There is a psychological challenge to being a DH that young players often struggle with. This could be a sign that he will be the DH against lefties on a regular basis. That would mean just 90-100 starts in the outfield.
  • So far there appears to be a dead-heat between Ali Solis, Curt Casali, and Eddy Rodriguez to be the third catcher (first backup if somebody gets hurt).
  • It is still too early to look for any patterns in the bullpen.
 
 

3 Comments

  1. Chris Wise says:

    Thanks, Cork. Now I can start my “official” speculation on the Bulls roster. Last year this approach proved pretty accurate. Biggest loose end, for Bulls fans, are the opt-out guys. But most of those show up a month or so into the season.
    If I understood options better, that could play into the mix as well. But little evidence that the Rays let options status drive decision-making too much.

  2. Dave L says:

    Interesting.

    So if Myers is being groomed from the start to get used to a part time DH role, would that leave Guyer to play right against lefties? He’s the only other right handed batting extra outfielder.

    This strenghtens Guyers’ position to make the roster. Dejesus troubles against LHP are as pronounced as Joyces.

    Assuming a Myers DH against LHP, that still leaves LH bats Kiermaeir, Joyce or Dejesus to play the field and bat. Do they have that much concern about his defense?

    I definitely dont expect Odorizzi to make the opening day rotation unless Bedard and Ramos totally crap out or get injured. Expect some combination of the older 2 pitchers to muddle through Helli starts.

    The Rays always introduce a young starter into the rotation when he is ready, never because of necessity by default.

  3. ken says:

    Agreed Dave, Odorizzi appears destined for Durham regardless of his spring performance. Looks like a similar situation to last years Fausto/Archer status. Neither Bedard nor Ramos excite me. Guyer is a must look player short term. Still curious about the Franklin deal. Will the Rays pull the trigger? Long term, a nice player to have depending on what we give in return.

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