When the Rays traded Delmon Young away this offseason, many analysts saw this as a Young for Garza trade with some spare parts going each way. I have said from the beginning, that the piece that made this trade work for the Rays was Jason Bartlett. Bartlett gives the Rays a heck of a defensive shortstop, while also giving the team a guy who is capable of getting on base at a decent clip and stealing thirty bases.
As this season has started, Bartlett's glove has already made an impression on Rays fans. After having to watch Brendan Harris let ball after ball go out of his range, we now have someone in Bartlett, who has seemingly taken away the hit up the middle. Combine him with Akinori Iwamura who has made the switch from 3B to 2B seem completely natural, and the Rays have the best middle infield defense in team history.
Offensively, Bartlett hasn't been able to put things together. He is hitting to a pathetic OBP of .224, while only getting two extra basehits. This inability to get on base has led to only one stolen base, and he has really not provided anything to this team offensively thus far.
While watching the game last night, we got to see Bartlett ruin our best scoring chance of the evening. With bases loaded and one out in the 2nd innning, Bartlett hit a line drive right at Robinson Cano. The ball barely bounced before Cano grabbed it and resulted in an easy, inning-ending double play. This situation has become far too familiar in watching Bartlett this early in the season. Time after time seeing him hit the ball hard only to turn into an out.
This has led me to take a look at the numbers to see whether or not Barty has been unlucky. This far into the season, Bartlett's LD% is .211. By adding .120 to his LD% we find that .331 is his xBABIP. Comparing this to his BABIP of .231, we can see that Bartlett has had .100 of bad luck. This is also with the aforementioned play from last night not being scored as a line drive, as going into last night his xBABIP was above .360. This high amount of bad luck shows that Bartlett is due to turn things around with the bat.
I know some Rays fans may be getting a bad taste in their mouth when Bartlett comes to plate, but I am just asking for you to exude a little more patience. I still feel he was the most important part of that trade, and as the season progresses I think others will tend to feel that way as well.