Originally posted on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 12/29/12
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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rams owner buys massive 520,000-acre Texas ranch

Cam Newton explains why he did not dive on fumble

George Karl’s agent rips Kings, wants broadcaster reprimanded

WATCH: Popovich has funny reaction to New Hampshire results

Suns vets pull packing peanut prank on rookie Devin Booker

Teammate gives Manning final completion ball from Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss Football cited in 13 of 28 department violations by NCAA

Larry Sanders to consider NBA comeback after other interests stabilize

The NCAAB power rankings

SEC begins crying foul over Jim Harbaugh’s spring break plans at Michigan

Marc Gasol reportedly out indefinitely with broken foot

Patriots waive Montee Ball despite never officially re-signing running back

WATCH: Blackhawks coach walks out of press conference

Greg McElroy: Cam Newton 'quit on his team'

Tennis umpires secretly banned over gambling issues

WATCH: Dancing Kentucky fan slides down rail, fails

Clemson LB has great response to NFL draft analyst's criticism

Former Aggies QB Kyle Allen reveals culture problems at Texas A&M

Roy Williams collapses during game vs. BC

Panthers TE Greg Olsen shaves off his playoff beard

Derek Fisher thanks Knicks in statement

Miami Heat to honor Shaq by retiring his number 32

Oakland Raiders release Nate Allen

B.J. Penn announces he will return at UFC 197

Bring back the Dunk Contest

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker