Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 11/15/14
2e

 

Team BABIP

The Tampa Bay Rays may very well get to opening day with a team payroll of around $70M which is quite admirable for a team that competes with the likes of the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Maybe that is why I find it fascinating to watch how the Rays operate.  The opportunity to get a glimpse of the collective thought process may be rare, but it seems that such an opportunity has been afforded to those following closely enough to notice.

Ask yourselves why a team that plans to spend around $70M would dedicate over 10% of that amount to a free agent who hit .225 last season and costs twice as much as the guy he will replace.  Seriously give that some consideration.  Casey Kotchman played 1222 1/3 innings at 1B for the Rays last season and committed 2 errors.  The only other guy to give the Rays double digit games at 1B last season was Dan Johnson, and he hit a paltry .119.  On the other hand, Kotchman hit .306/.378/.422/.800 with 10 hr and 48 rbi.  Despite the really solid season (2.9 WAR), Kotchman was not invited back to the Rays and found employment with Cleveland ($3M for 2012).

Obviously the Rays are looking for more power at first base, and they secured it in the form of Carlos Pena for $7.25M.  The same Carlos Pena hit .225/.357/.462/.819 last year for the Cubs.  Of Pena’s 111 hits 28 were home runs, though.  Pena possesses an abundance of power – the application of which he finds to be somewhat of a challenge  at times.  Basically, he makes contact with the ball with a great infrequency.  Pena struck out 161 times in just 493 at-bats in 2011.  That practically makes him the left-handed Mark Reynolds who struck out a league-leading 196 times last year.

The all-or-nothing approach combined with a good eye for pitches outside the zone makes him strangely yet ideally suited for the Rays.  As a team, the Rays need more offensive punch, and they must absolutely be efficient with the scoring opportunities they have.  They finished 15th in all of baseball with 707 runs scored last season.  The ranking seems respectable until you realize that their division competition includes the 1st (Boston – 874), 2nd (Yankees – 867), and 6th (Toronto – 743) most prolific scoring offenses in the game.  The Rays ended the 2011 season 10th in the league in home runs, and again they trailed the Yankees (1st), Red Sox (3rd), and the Blue Jays (5th).  The Rays simply lack the “big bombers” the competition has.  No problem, right?

If you truly believe that a walk is as good as a hit, then Pena is your guy.  He walked 101 times last season which helped prop up his on base percentage at .357.  That sounds relatively unspectacular, but a guy named Albert Pujols only topped that by 9 points.  Sure, Pujols hit 37 hr to Pena’s 28.  Pujols also collected 99 rbi versus Pena’s 80.  However, Pujols did also hit into 29 double plays while Pena only hit into 6.  On average, Pujols will cost the Angels roughly $24M per year for the next decade.  Pena will cost the Rays $7.25M for just one year.  In this apples versus expensive oranges comparison, I find it difficult to imagine Pujols will really be worth over 3x what Pena will be worth.

The actual apples to apples comparison pits Kotchman versus Pena.  The cost differential between the two players theoretically buys more power which translates to lineup protection as well.  The intangible value of having someone that opponents “fear” in the batter’s box may not be some intangible after all.  The Rays have basically placed a dollar value on it.  It is not so much “bang for your buck” as it is the “Carlos Pena Effect”.

FYI – Carlos Pena’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in 2011 was .267 while Pujols had a .277 BABIP.  Kotchman will make less in 2012 than either player, and his BABIP was .335.  The lesson here?  As Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler famously said, “hit ‘em where they ain’t”, and there “ain’t” nobody playing on the backside of the bleachers.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

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

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

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.