Hanukkah Comes Early

With the acquisition of David DeJesus going official in the last hour, the signing of Delmon Young to a minor league contract, and the DFA of Jason Bourgeois the Rays have pretty much emptied the box of pieces in order to build their September puzzle. It’s unlikely you will see Young called up before roster expand on September first and the same can be said of Luke Scott who is currently on the DL (again). Once these guys are called up it’s going to be extremely exciting to watch how Crazy Joe Maddon uses all these guys, because there’s some pretty wide platoon splits with the new additions to go with a roster already chockfull of platoonability. Here’s a look at each player’s relevant information and, most importantly, their regressed split:

Players are ranked from largest split to smallest. This should not come across as some sort of condemnation, but rather a wide platoon split can be quite useful for a team with defensively-flexible players that can mirror the wide-split guys. The biggest offenders are Matt Joyce and the freshly minted David DeJesus. Their regressed split is nearly identical, but they go about their success in different ways. Joyce is a walks and power guy while DeJesus combines the walk with more of a spray approach that leads to a higher average at the expense of some of the power. Additionally, he brings an averagish glove in center that plays up in the corners. These are good problems to have.

Our other new/old addition in Delmon Young also presents a bit of a split issue though not quite at the magnitude of Joyce/DeJesus. Young’s career numbers are actually pretty similar to Desmond Jennings, but of course Delmon has no position so the discerning manager is less likely to put up with his same-handed inadequacies. Still, a bench bat that hits lefties will prove very useful as the Rays attempt to run down the Red Sox while playing a more difficult schedule. Now that we have an idea of each guy’s splits and overall projection let’s combine the two to get an idea of who represents the best matchups against each type of pitcher. Starting with the southpaws:

In 2013 the league-average batter has a wOBA of .314 so we can easily compute the wRC+ for these guys to give a bit of a different context for how each player compares to the league average. Evan is the stud here, no surprise, but then it’s a bit of a drop off to a cluster of relatively similar players. Ben Zobrist has a wOBA of .277 against lefties this year which is just so far from what you’d expect that you can’t help but wonder when he’s going to get that part of his game clicking. Then we see Delmon Young slotting in as the third-best bat against lefties. If you didn’t think he’d be a worthwhile addition well check yoself because if he never sees a glove this is a solid move for the bevy of lefties the team will surely face down the stretch both to start a game and in those late-inning, high-leverage moments. You should be mostly familiar with the rest of these guys, but we already see how DeJesus’s wide splits show up against same-handers. He’s decidedly below average against lefties, but as mentioned, the glove may assuage some of those fears. As an upgrade on Sam Fuld he will surely fill the bill. Let’s look at projections against righties:

There are more guys average or above against righties than lefties, but we don’t see that monster bat like we do with Longo against southpaws. Instead, the Rays just zergrush opposition pitchers rolling good hitter after good hitter with few gaps. Here’s where we see where DeJesus can make a real impact. He’d be our 4th best bat, right now, and he projects slightly better than Scott while being able to field a position. I hope Scott’s ok as we could use all the good bats we can, but my guess is he won’t feel better until September 1st at the earliest. Delmon projects as a league average bat against righties, so that’s also a pleasant surprise.

Basically, the Rays have just added a .340ish wOBA to the lineup every single day and that’s a good thing. As rosters expand the name of the game will be depth and having an answer to whatever the opposition throws our way. These extra above-average bats can only help and by all accounts the price is nice, too. Coach Maddon should be salivating and marking the days until the calendar flips and he gets a chance to mix potions in the chase for not only a pennant, but a World Series win. Happy hunting, fellas.


About Jason Hanselman

Rays fan.
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