It’s no secret that the Rays “offensive attack” has focused more on the former and less on the latter thus far. So far they’re 26th in runs (47), 29th in batting average (.221), 20th in on-base percentage (.306), and 25th in slugging percentage (.353). Gross. Ineffective. Flaccid. These are just a few of the words that can describe the Rays team offense after two plus weeks.
You can make a litany of excuses. Maybe we’ve faced good pitching? Maybe we’ve played in parks that aren’t conducive for offense, including our own. Maybe guys are being asked to face pitchers where the match up is not ideal? Well we can use the latest iteration of the match up tool that adjusts for park factors. The idea here is to compare the player’s actual wOBA to what we would project using the match up tool and we can also use these figures to calculate wRAA and expected wRAA to see how all of this accrues:
(Note: I have not adjusted for Pinch Hit opportunities which would drive the xwOBA down ever so slightly. Also, I have used The Book’s linear weights.)
While the offense, in total, has been deplorable there have been a few shining spots. Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, and Evan Longoria have performed well and you can throw Sean Rodriguez in there, too, albeit in a handful of plate appearances. Each of these guys has outperformed expectations, which may lead to thoughts of regression, but if you think these guys have overachieved what about the guys that have had performance issues so far?
Wil Myers and David DeJesus should have similar results based on the pitchers they’ve faced, and they have so far. The only thing is that each is around 70 points of wOBA below where you would expect. These two, alone, have combined to cost the team six runs compared to average when they should be basically at the average. James Loney and Yunel Escobar are guys that don’t have quite the gulf between actual and expected, yet they’re two everyday guys that we should expect to see better performance from going forward.
Overall, the team has a wOBA of .307 when we should expect a basically league average .314. That’s a difference of about 3.5 runs compared to the average. Coming into the year we thought this would be a good offense. So far it should have been around average, but they’ve been worse than that with a couple of culprits to point the finger at, but over the course of the year you should see guys perform more to expectations. All this to say that team offense should improve upon what we’ve seen even if the team isn’t some world beater that we might have expected in the doldrums of winter. The sooner the better.