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

WATCH: Ducks score controversial goal

Report: Ray McDonald arrested for violating restraining order

Braves, Dodgers complete six-player swap

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

Report: Tom Brady suspension appeal date not set yet

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Are the St. Louis Rams setting up Nick Foles for failure?

LeBron: Didn't see Cavs reaching Finals at start of season

Pete Carroll: Communication with Russell Wilson is ‘great’

Mike Zimmer: Adrian Peterson can play for Vikings or not at all

RG3 misses 'having fun playing football' after two tough seasons

Houston mayor's office weighs in on Kaepernick Instagram post

Jared Dudley: 'Melo is most overrated player in NBA

Garrick Sherman bashes NCAA in epic drunken Twitter rant

Adrian Peterson denies reports that he wants to be traded

Report: Bulls players told Tom Thibodeau will not be back

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders "gets it"

Bucs DE George Johnson is a dog show enthusiast

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Propaganda season begins with SEC spring meetings

Indians support Aviles, ailing daughter by shaving heads

McIlroy will donate his winnings if he wins Irish Open

Carlos Gomez on tiff with Bumgarner: 'He's not my dad'

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

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Star player missing OTAs? Keep calm...

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

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.