Posts tagged ‘John Jaso’

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: Kelly Shoppach

Kelly Shoppach

Raise your hand if you were excited when the Rays traded for Kelly Shoppach by sending a PTBNL to the Indians. *raises hand* Ok, now raise your hand if you wanted to kick him off the team after the season ended with his horrible regular season and postseason performance. *raises hand again* Maybe I’m in the minority, probably not, because at the time most Rays fans just wanted to see someone, anyone, other than Dioner Navarro behind the plate in Tampa Bay and during the playoffs, even against left-handers, all we wanted to see was John Jaso.

Shoppach carried a very nice .208 ISO over in the trade but we were warned by Dave Cameron about his platoon split due to a lack of at-bats. Cameron wasn’t wrong but he wasn’t exactly right. Shoppach did have a horrible season with the Rays in 2010 but his splits against left-handed pitchers weren’t bad. He did hit .261/.369/.455 with a wOBA of .366 in 103 plate appearances against a pitiful .114/.232/.200 in 84 plate appearances against right-handers.

His career line against left-handers now sits at .286/.381/.568 with a wOBA of .404 in 361 career plate appearances. Cameron was right that he could not duplicate his splits against left-handers but he still holds very good value against them. Here are Shoppach’s projected totals for 2011:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .238
 OBP  .339
 SLG  .419
 OPS  .758
 Plate App.  245
 At-Bats  210
 Hits  50
 Homeruns  9
 Doubles  11
 Triples  0
 BB  28
 SO  87
 SB  0
 UZR  -2


Maddon is as smart as any manager at placing his players in the right environment to succeed. I expect to see Shoppach in the lineup against most left-handers and very few right-handers, only to give Jaso a day off.

Expect a bounce back from Shoppach because I find it hard for him to duplicate his poor performance of 2010 against right-handers and he has proven that he can mash against left-handers.

February 12, 2011 at 11:58 am 2 comments

2011 Rays Projections: John Jaso

John Jaso

Before the April of 2010 most people, Rays fans included, did not know who John Jaso was. And some of the people who did know who he was probably never thought he would be a Major League starting catcher, especially not for an AL East contender. Well, Jaso proved a lot of people wrong and has become a huge fan favorite for his hustle and style of play in Tampa Bay.

Jaso will open the 2011 season as the Rays starting catcher and most likely get all the leadoff at-bats against right-handed pitchers since Jaso led all Major Leaguers with a .380 OBP from the leadoff spot last year.

Some people may think that Jaso caught the league by surprise, which he did, but they may project a major decline thinking Jaso’s 2nd time around the league will be tougher than his first. I beg to differ. Here are my 2011 projections for Jaso:

 Stat  Total
 AVG  .271
 OBP  .367
 SLG  .377
 OPS  .744
 Plate App.  547
 At-Bats  454
 Hits  123
 Homeruns  6
 Doubles  24
 Triples  3
 BB  73
 SO  59
 SB  5
 UZR  -3


Jaso possesses a few skills that help transgress digression: patience, great eye, and firm grasp of the strike zone. We are not talking about some rookie that got lucky last year, although there are people that probably believe that is exactly what happened. Jaso has always possessed these skills and I see no reason why he cannot duplicate his 2010 season and have as much of a shot of outperforming it as he does underperforming it.

I do feel that I may be underestimating Jaso but I cannot put too much emotion, or gut, into these projections but I see no reason outside of injury that Jaso cannot put up these projected numbers and produce 2.6-2.9 fWAR or more.

January 31, 2011 at 7:54 am 2 comments

Jaso’s Rookie Season Deserved More Credit

John Jaso

I know, I’m a little late on this subject but hear me out.

The AL Rookie of the Year was announced on November 15th and it appeared that most people accepted Neftali Feliz as the landslide winner.  I’m not so sure he should’ve been the clear winner, at least not by the wide margin he won.  I feel compelled to make a case for John Jaso.  Should Jaso have won over Feliz?  Maybe not, but he should’ve stolen a few votes and made the race a lot closer.

If you take a quick look at Jaso’s stats, in 404 plate appearances he hit .263/.372/.378 with 5 homers and 4 steals.  Other than the OBP that looks very pedestrian.  Well, Jaso’s season was much more than pedestrian, you have to dig a little deeper… and I brought my shovel.

Stat Stat (AL Rank) AL Catcher Rank
BB/K % 1.51 (1st) 1st
OBP .372 (16th) 2nd
SPD Score 5.0 1st
BB% 14.6% (5th) 1st
O-Swing % 18.5% (4th) 1st
fWAR 2.5 5th
wOBA .341 5th
Triples 3 t-1st

What you get is a smart player who gets on base and runs those bases very well.  Remember, this is a league that had Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli, Jorge Posada, Matt Wieters, and a career year from John Buck

Jaso’s 1.51 BB/K rate actually ranked 1st in the entire Major Leagues.  The best stat, though, is not listed above; it is Jaso’s .380 OBP from the leadoff spot.  That, my friends, is the highest OBP from the leadoff spot in the entire Major Leagues, at any position!

Jaso also lead ALL catchers in Bill James baserunning at +17.  Mind you, most catchers finish with a negative.  That is huge value added.

Sadly, Jaso only received one 2nd place vote.  None others.  Brennan Boesch, who finished with 0.6 WAR in 512 plate appearances while hitting .256/.320/.416 as a negative-fielding corner outfielder, recieved three 3rd place votes.

Should Jaso have won the AL Rookie of the Year Award?  Tough to say, but he should have been given much more credit for his fantastic rookie season than he received.

December 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm 1 comment

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