Moving on Up

I am happy to announce (a day late) that I am moving over to DraysBay and my first piece went up yesterday and I will have another going up today at 1pm.

I will still use this site for some smaller pieces, research, and other tidbits but most of my work will be there and my other site MLBdirt.


April 8, 2011 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

The Not-So-Pretty Early Numbers

Runs Scored (6) – 30th

AVG (.138) – 30th

OBP (.237) – 30th

SLG (.260) – 30th

OPS (.497) – 30th

wOBA (.222) – 30th

wRC+ (35) – 30th

fWAR (-0.7) – 30th

K% (25.2) – 28th

The “power” hitters on the team (Evan Longoria, Manny Ramirez, Dan Johnson, Matt Joyce) are hitting a combined .064/.137/.106 in 47 at-bats.

B.J Upton has been on-base 4 time and been caught stealing or thrown out 3 times.

Starting pitchers have a combined 5.06 ERA and only one Quality Start.

April 6, 2011 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Jaun Cruz, Please Do Not Ditch the Slider

(St. Pete Times Photo)

When I learned that Juan Cruz was going to be taking the last spot on the Rays’ roster I was excited. I have always been a fan of his and have always loved his numbers out of the bullpen, which includes an absurd 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings.

In his career, his slider has easily been his best pitch. His wSL is +18.2 and the only other pitch that has been worth more than league average is his change-up thanks to a -6.6 wFB over the past two seasons. Even with age catching up to him and the fact that his BB/9 have always been high there is still reason to believe he can be a solid reliever in the Majors with that slider of his, especially as the 12th pitcher on a roster.

The problem is that last year, albeit in a very small sample size, he seemed to ditch his slider in favor of a cutter. He only threw 109 pitches last year but 30.6% were cutters and only 13.9% were sliders. His highest percentage of cutters previous to this was in 2009 when he threw 7.6% cutters and from 2007-2009 he threw his slider 24% of the time or higher. His cutter, again, in limited duty, was worth -2.0 wCT and his slider was worth +0.9 in even less duty.

I do not know if this is a growing trend for him but for the Rays’ sake let’s all hope he sticks to the slider.

*****As a side note, in the middle of writing this article I was reading Tommy Rancel’s post The Process Versus Mark Reynolds and thought you all may want to read it too because Juan Cruz may be our best option against right-handers with that slider of his.

April 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

2011 Rays Projections: Evan Longoria

Last in my running posts of position player predictions, and definitely not least, is All-Star and face-of-the-franchise Evan Longoria. In all honesty, Longoria was a little harder to predict than some. Sure, he’s going to be an All-Star again and contend for the AL MVP award, but what made it hard was the fact that he has some trending numbers.

In each of his first three seasons in the Majors Longoria has seen an increase in AVG, OBP, and wRC+ which coincided with his increase in BABIP each season and his increase in BB and decrease in K rates each season. The odd part is that his SLG has decreased in each of those three seasons along with his ISO and HR/FB rates even though his FB rate has increased. Very odd that he has had so many stats increase and decrease in each of his only three seasons.

What makes it hard is that if you follow the trends you get some weird numbers. Do you buck the trends and change some calculations or go with the trends? I bucked the trends. There is no way they all continue in one direction. But I can see some of them, especially the AVG and OBP going in that same direction. His wOBA in those three seasons has been consistent; ranging from .373-.380 so that is a good sign of his consistent productivity.

With that, here is what I came up with:


March 31, 2011 at 10:52 am 2 comments

2011 Rays Projections: Johnny Damon

After his worst season since 2001, 37 year old Johnny Damon signed a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $5.25M with another $750K in attendance incentives. A large reason his numbers, especially on the power side, were down was because he posted a career low (since records were taken in 2002) HR/FB rate of 4.8%, almost half his career mark. That could be fluke or sign of age catching up to him. I think it’s somewhere in-between.

Damon’s patient eye and good on-base skills have still been solid and age has yet to fully catch that aspect of his game but I still see his 2010 as more his norm going forward than his 2009. With Joe Maddon, the master of the match-up, now Damon’s manager, we should see Damon in more situations to help him rather than hurt him and I think we will see a slight bump in his totals from 2010 but not a major one. Take a look:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .276
 OBP  .354
 SLG  .422
 OPS  .766
 Plate App.  587
 At-Bats  519
 Hits  143
 Homeruns  13
 Doubles  31
 Triples  3
 BB  64
 SO  86
 SB  16
 UZR  +0


Not exactly the numbers I want from my starting leftfielder but still not bad. That should be good, depending on how much time he spends at DH, for 1.5-2.0 fWAR. Damon also brings with him a certain style and relaxed flow that should be good for the clubhouse, and yes, the fans. Yes, I know intangibles are mocked in the stat world I live in but I do believe there are some that are legit and Damon possesses some. Are they worth a ton? No, but they do help. Damon should easily pay for his own contract with his numbers and then some but don’t look for a return to his 2009 form.

March 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

2011 Top 175 Prospects

Be sure to check my full top 175 prospect list over at

Here are my Rays rankings in the top 175:

7. Jeremy Hellickson (RHP – TB)
15. Matt Moore (LHP – TB)
21. Desmond Jennings (OF – TB)
39. Chris Archer (RHP – TB)
74. Hak Ju Lee (SS – TB)
81. Alex Torres (LHP – TB)
87. Jake McGee (LHP – TB)
102. Alex Colome (RHP – TB)
108. Josh Sale (OF – TB)
132. Justin O’Conner (C – TB)
169. Robinson Chirinos (C – TB)
173. Alex Cobb (RHP – TB)

And for those wondering, Tim Beckham did not make my top 300.

March 23, 2011 at 10:08 am Leave a comment

2011 Rays Projections: Ben Zobrist

I won’t bore you with a long post about how Ben Zobrist will bounce back because quite frankly I already wrote it.

Bottom line was that Zobrist was still swinging the same percentage of time but he was letting more strikes in the zone go by and swinging, yet making weak contact, at more balls out of the zone. This is easily fixed, especially by a guy that works as hard as Zobrist and the projections show a big bounce back. Take a look:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .272
 OBP  .376
 SLG  .449
 OPS  .825
 Plate App.  627
 At-Bats  530
 Hits  144
 Homeruns  19
 Doubles  29
 Triples  4
 BB  92
 SO  106
 SB  22
 UZR  +11


My gut had him in the .270/.380/.470 range with the article I wrote about him bouncing back and the projections are a little short but not too far off. Zobrist bouncing back is a key component to the Rays’ 2011 success and my money is on him doing so and possibly eclipsing the above projections.

March 22, 2011 at 10:31 am 2 comments

2011 Rays Projections: Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson may be the toughest Ray to project.

Johnson has never had 500 plate appearances in any Major League season and will be 31 on Opening Day. Is there a reason he has not hit the 500 PA mark? Is he what he is, an incredibly patient hitter that is more of a Quad-A player than a Major Leaguer? Perhaps, but the Rays seem set to give him more PAs in the Bigs to be sure he isn’t more than that.

In Triple-A last year he hit .303/.430/.624 with 30 bombs and a .445 wOBA. in 2008 he hit .307/.424/.557 with 25 bombs and a .425 wOBA. Those numbers, especially the power, have never translated to the Majors.

In 1429 career PAs Johnson has hit .243/.343/.419 and been worth 3.0 fWAR. Those are not numbers that scream out starting firstbaseman, especially in the AL East. What the Rays see, though, is his career 13.3% BB rate, huge power potential, and the fact that his career .250 BABIP has nowhere to go but up. What my projections see is about what you get, with minimal upside, but there is some.

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .235
 OBP  .340
 SLG  .442
 OPS  .782
 Plate App.  427
 At-Bats  362
 Hits  85
 Homeruns  19
 Doubles  18
 Triples  0
 BB  60
 SO  82
 SB  0
 UZR  -2


The only reason I had him at -2 UZR is because he is going to play some 3B and he is well below-average there. If he were strictly playing 1B/DH then he’s be at zero or maybe +1 UZR.

The fan in me wants to say that Johnson finds his niche in the Majors this year, the naysayer in me wants to say that he’d be lucky to get 300 PAs, the realist in me ran the numbers and came up with the above predictions. Like it or leave it, they are not your typical firstbaseman but they are probably better than what Casey Kotchman would do.

March 21, 2011 at 11:26 am 1 comment

Why Not Leadoff With Manny Ramirez?

(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

It doesn’t matter where I hit. I’m Manny Ramirez, so it doesn’t matter.” – Manny Ramirez on (Ian Browne, 05/15/2005)

Rays manager Joe Maddon had new offensive weapon Manny Ramirez in the leadoff spot yesterday to get him at-bats in early before the weekend. This launched a run of jokes and actual misunderstandings about what a leadoff hitter should be when it was announced.

A lot of tweets joking about Manny’s ability to bunt for hits and steal bases were made, and it got me realizing that a lot of people do not understand what a leadoff hitter should be.

This same kind of thing happened last year when Maddon decided to bat John Jaso in the leadoff spot. You would have thought people actually believed that Joe Maddon lost his mind and needed to find it. Maddon proved to be correct when Jaso finished the season leading all players with a .380 OBP from the leadoff spot.

In a twitter conversation with R.J. Anderson and a few others there does appear to be growing concern among some that Jaso could see some regression if he does not learn to hit for higher than a .270 AVG that is loaded with mostly singles. If he cannot then Major League pitchers will catch on and do nothing but throw him strikes, forcing his hand at putting more balls in play (career .281 BABIP) and reducing his walk rates, which he lives by. If this happens he may be dropped to the bottom of the Rays order.

B.J. Upton has the leadoff spot against left-handers secured but struggled mightily against right-handers. So who will leadoff against right-handers if Jaso does regress? Ben Zobrist is a great option but why not Manny?

Over the past three seasons Manny Ramirez has posted a .428 OBP against right-handed pitchers as opposed to a .396 OBP against left-handers, not that there is anything wrong with that. Last year was his worst of the three seasons and he still posted a .404 OBP against RHPs.

Many’s power is on the decline with his ISO going from .270-to-.241-to-.162 from 2008-2010. Why not utilize his best weapon right now? Contrary to popular belief and what Mitch Williams may say on MLB Network, the leadoff spot is not reserved for speedy slap hitters who force the thirdbaseman in because their bunt is more potent a weapon than their power. The leadoff spot is meant to give high percentage on-base players a spot where he can get the most chances to get on-base.

Maddon’s decision to bat Manny leadoff was said to get him early at-bats but who knows, maybe we will see Manny bat there in the regular? If there is a manager out there that will bunk conventional wisdom it’s Joe Maddon and Manny was right in 2005, it doesn’t matter where he hits, and that includes leadoff.

March 12, 2011 at 9:02 am 3 comments

2011 Rays Projections: Sean Rodriguez

Rays manager Joe Maddon loves versatility and the good thing for him is that he has it. Sean Rodriguez is one of the most versatile players on the team. In 2009 he saw action at every single position except catcher and posted positive UZRs at all positions except thirdbase. In fact, he was listed as the team’s emergency catcher. He possesses very good instincts and range and a has great arm for a middle infielder.

No one has ever really doubted his fielding ability. He has a career UZR of 8.0 in just under 1500 innings, or roughly one full 162 game season. He has played exceptionally well at secondbase and shortstop and will be the team’s shortstop in most games against left-handed pitchers.

Rodriguez has also always shown that he can hit for power, especially for a middle infielder. While his ISO was league-average last year his ISO in the minors in 2008 and 2009 were an outstanding .339 and .314 . Will the power translate to the Majors? Rays fans are hoping so but there are few things holding him back.

What’s holding Rodriguez back is his lack of discipline and pitch recognition. He walked only 5.6% of the time (2.9% against right-handers) in 2010 and had a wSL of -7.0 and wCB of -4.3, while swinging at 30.4% of pitches outside of the strike zone. If Rodriguez is to take his game to the next level he needs to learn a little patience and pitch recognition.

With that, here are my 2011 projections for him:

 Stat Total
 AVG  .259
 OBP  .315
 SLG  .435
 OPS  .750
 Plate App.  495
 At-Bats  451
 Hits  117
 Homeruns  15
 Doubles  28
 Triples  3
 BB  33
 SO  126
 SB  16
 UZR  +7


These projections equals roughly a 2.5-2.7 fWAR player and the Rays will be pleased if he posts numbers similar to these in 2011 especially knowing that Rodriguez has the ability and the playing time coming his way to eclipse these totals.

March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

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