Found December 29, 2012 on Pirates Prospects:
Mlb-pirates-tigers-jun
Garrett Jones is currently projected to be part of a platoon at first base. — Image Credit: Mark Olson For the third year in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates are projected to enter the season with a platoon at one of their positions. Right now we’re assuming that will be Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez at first base. This could change if Jones is traded over the off-season. In 2011 the Pirates went with a platoon of Jones and Matt Diaz in right field. On paper it looked like it would work. Diaz had a history of success against left-handers, and Jones was successful against right-handers. Jones did his part in the platoon, hitting for an .808 OPS against right handers, and struggling with a .460 OPS against left handers. The problem was that Diaz saw some major struggles against left handers. In 2012 Jones moved to first base and platooned with Casey McGehee. McGehee was a similar situation as Diaz, although McGehee was coming off a down year against lefties. After a .947 OPS in 2010 against lefties, McGehee hit for a .413 OPS in 2011 in 124 at-bats. In 2012 both players did their parts. McGehee hit for an .807 OPS against left-handers, while Jones hit for an .888 OPS against right-handers. The problem this time was that Jose Tabata and Alex Presley both struggled in the outfield. That moved Jones to right-field and gave McGehee everyday playing time and 200 plate appearances against right-handers, with a .616 OPS. In his career, Jones had a .279/.348/.504 line against right-handers and a .198/.237/.353 line against left-handers. Sanchez has a .291/.385/.484 line in his career against left-handers and a .248/.314/.398 line in his career against right-handers. If you combine those career ratios, and give Jones 425 plate appearances and Sanchez 125, you get a .282/.356/.500 line. On paper, the combo looks good. By comparison, current free agent Adam LaRoche had a .271/.343/.510 line last year with Washington. LaRoche had more slightly power, but the Jones/Sanchez line above had the slightly better OPS due to the on-base percentage. Mike Napoli had a .227/.343/.469 line last year, and a .259/.356/.507 in his career. The Jones/Sanchez combo is better than the 2012 Napoli. The career Napoli has slightly better power, and the same OBP, edging Jones and Sanchez out by seven OPS points. He also comes with injury concerns. The key here is that this is on paper. As we’ve seen the last two years, the on paper predictions don’t always play out. With all of the outfield options the Pirates have (Starling Marte, Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and now Jerry Sands), I don’t think they will run into last year’s problem with Jones having to move to right-field and Sanchez playing first base every day. If they did, the Pirates could bring up Clint Robinson. That might not be a favorable situation, but if Jones is needed in the outfield then Clint Robinson’s inexperience will be the least of the worries for the Pirates. It’s more likely that the Pirates could run into a 2011 situation. In that year Diaz failed to live up to his platoon splits. The right-hander in a platoon gets significantly less playing time, which can lead to small sample size variations. Diaz struggled in 2010 against lefties, so there were signs that he might have been on the decline. Sanchez didn’t have his career numbers in 2012. He had a .729 OPS in 96 at-bats. I don’t think that’s a sign of a decline, but it is a sign that a small sample of at-bats can bring a variation of numbers. I’ll also point out that Sanchez improved across the board after coming to Pittsburgh. That included his splits, which went up to a .799 OPS against lefties in an even smaller sample of 42 at-bats. Another big thing to consider is that platoons don’t work out perfectly. Jones isn’t going to get all of his plate appearances against right-handers. Sanchez isn’t going to get all of his plate appearances against left-handers. To factor that in, I gave each player 100 plate appearances against their platoon opposite. Adding those (very poor) results to the combined numbers above gets a .269/.339/.472 line. That’s if each player stays healthy, plays around their career averages, and gets around that playing time (425/75 R/L for Jones, 75/125 R/L for Sanchez). Getting a combined .811 OPS isn’t bad. Last year the MLB average at first base was .766, and the NL average was .761. The more I look at Jones, and the more I look at the makeup of the team, the more I think the Pirates should just keep Jones. That’s a bigger topic, and probably something I’ll look at over the weekend. Links and Notes **The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. Order your copy today! **Update on the Pirates Prospects Job Postings. **Winter Leagues Recap: Four Hits For DeJesus.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Why I like Mark Melancon

The biggest reason I’m OK with the Joel Hanrahan trade is the inclusion of reliever Mark Melancon. The other three guys are pretty big question marks, although I think Jerry Sands has a good chance of at least being decent in a platoon-ish role. Still, Melancon is just as (if not more) valuable than Hanrahan in my eyes, largely because he’s under team control through 2016 and...

First Pitch: The Pirates Payroll and a Realistic View on Salary Dumps

When the Pirates make a move that cuts salary — such as what happened in the Joel Hanrahan trade — you hear the usual “salary dump” cries. Technically the move was a salary dump. The Pirates saved about $6.5 M in the move. Dumping salary might have even been a key reason to make the move. The Pirates recently signed Francisco Liriano to a two-year, $12.75 M deal. So the salary...

Pittsburgh Pirates: Reviewing Neal Huntington’s drafts- 2008

If only they’d kept Littlefield locked up on draft day; Image credit poetry in pros The slow months of the offseason provide a nice opportunity to reflect back on the organization’s draft choices over the past 5 years, and gauge their levels of success.  Assuming the GM reigns in October of 2007, current GM Neal Huntington had adequate time to prepare for his first draft the...

BUCN: The Story of the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates

This is a documentary on the Pirates’ 2012 season by Greg Allison, a fellow die-hard Pirates fan. Greg worked like crazy on this thing trying to capture the Pirates fan experience all season, and he did a great job. Check it out! Click here to view the embedded video. Click here to view the embedded video. Click here to view the embedded video. Here’s Greg’s website for the documentary. 

Winter League Recap: Two More Hits For DeJesus

In Winter League action from down in Puerto Rico last night, Ivan DeJesus went 2-for-4, with his 24th RBI. He raised his batting average to .358, giving him a six point lead in the batting race with two games left on the regular season schedule. DeJesus has 49 hits, four more than anyone else in the league and his .910 OPS ranks him third overall. His RBI total ranks him first on...

Winter Leagues Recap: Four Hits For DeJesus

In Winter League action from last night in Puerto Rico, Ivan DeJesus had four hits, including his third home run and eleventh double, as his team lost 11-9 in 15 innings. He drove in three runs and scored three times, including the game tying run in the bottom of the ninth. DeJesus batted lead-off and played second base, where he also made his fifth error of the season. He is now...

Grilli’s Fastball Keys Resurgence

Jason Grilli was just a guy Neal Huntington plucked out of the Phillies’ minor league system back in 2011, yet another nebulous asset added in the Pirates’ attempts to rebuild on the cheap. Two years later, a 34-year-old once with little but gas and a prayer could be Pittsburgh’s opening day closer. He turned 2011′s resurgence into a full breakout relief season in 2012 ...

Update on the Pirates Prospects Job Postings

About a week and a half ago I posted a few job openings on the site in preparation for next season. I’ve received a large amount of responses so far, and I’ve gotten back to some of you. With the holidays and the Joel Hanrahan trade I haven’t had a chance to get back to everyone yet. I’m hoping to do that this week. As I mentioned in the original posting, I’m not going...

McKenry seeks consistency

Pirates catcher Michael McKenry put up solid numbers in a reserve role in 2012 batting .233 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI. McKenry who will back up recently acquired Russell Martin told PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko that he hopes to build off last season.

News and notes

Some news and notes as we head in to the new year… MLB Network did a nice feature on Roberto Clemente, commemorating the 40-year anniversary of his death. Beyond the Box Score posted an extensive analysis on the Bucs’ “strategy” this year against the running game. Very interesting stuff. Tim of PiratesProspects seems to think a Garrett Jones / Gaby Sanchez platoon would...

The Buccos Bullpen Shuffle

The Pirates completed a trade on Wednesday that sent Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt to the Red Sox for Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus. The deal increases organizational depth for the Pirates and gives them a solid reliever in Melancon. The deal also effectively makes Jason Grilli the new Pirates closer. Grilli, who was recently re-signed to a very affordable...

MLB Network Remembers Roberto Clemente

As we approach the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente‘s tragic death, MLB Network has an awesome 12 minute feature on the Pirates’ legendary right fielder. Being alive to witness Clemente play is one of the biggest wishes I have always had. Anytime I see something like this it always stirs up emotions in me, so I can’t even imagine what it does to those who actually experienced...

First Pitch: 13 Boom or Bust Players Who Could Make a Difference in 2013

The 2013 roster is starting to take shape. There are still a few off-season questions that remain unanswered. Will the Pirates trade Garrett Jones? Who will win the 5th starter job? Will the Pirates add any free agent relievers? Will they add any more free agents, period? One thing that is already apparent is that the roster will feature a lot of boom or bust players. I was listening...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.