Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 2/27/13
The Rays are a franchise that thrives on x-factor type players. Who would have expected that Fernando Rodney would set the record for the lowest single season ERA of all-time in 2012? Who would have expected that a career bench player in Jeff Keppinger would get significant playing time in 2012, and have the best season of his career at age 32? And by the same token, who would have expected that two of the four Rays players that made at least $5 million in 2012 would combine for just over one win of value, and that the other two wouldn't be Rays in 2013? That all just emphasizes the fact that the Rays are all about the x-factor. My x-factor for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 is James Loney. What the hell, James Loney? James Loney sucks! His career-best season was 2.4 fWAR, and he'll be 29 in May. Last season was the worst year of his career, split between the Dodgers and Red Sox. But the Rays are doing something with Loney that the Dodgers never did throughout his career, and they probably should have: they're going to platoon him. For his career against right-handers, Loney has a .790 OPS and a .146 ISO. Those are pretty solid numbers, even if they're not great for a first baseman. But against lefties, Loney's OPS drops to .658, and his ISO falls to .107. The Rays just need to find a capable platoon partner for Loney. They're currently going with Shelley Duncan, who doesn't possess significant splits against either handedness, but does hit lefties better than Loney does. Just because the Rays don't have an ideal platoon partner for Loney right now doesn't mean that the ideal is giong to fail. But the Rays are in a tough spot, because they also have a DH in Luke Scott that can't hit lefties, and a second baseman (Kelly Johnson) that struggled against southpaws in 2012. There's a significant possibility that the Rays will have at least one player in the lineup at all times that needs to be platooned, but can't because of injuries, roster crunches, or the lack of someone who can play the necessary position. If Loney wants to make the team's decisions easier going forth, him smashing the hell out of right-handers will do a lot of good for the Rays prospects at contending in 2013, because if they need to worry about giving him, Scott, and Johnson all caddies against lefties, it could be a rough year. Rays on TOC End of Season Postmortem 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer 2013 Burning Question This Is My Nightmare 2013 X-Factor [follow]
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run

Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

Steve Smith has microfractures in back, out for Week 5

Cowboys want Brandon Weeden to attempt longer passes


Nebraska captain tells crowd 'I'm sorry we suck'

Report: Dolphins could fire some coaches if team loses to Jets

Georgia fans get #FireRicht trending on Twitter

Mark Fox paints body, wears shoulder spikes in student section

WATCH: Nick Chubb ties Herschel Walker's record

WATCH: Ohio St. WR penalized for 'throat slash' celebration

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

What to watch in CFB Week 5

Starter strategies for final, tie-breaker and wild card games

Five outrageous predictions for NFL Week 4

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker