Could Marcus Thames Be Dan Johnson's Dance Partner?

Last week we started to look at potential candidates that could help the Rays fill the void at DH in 2011. The first name we looked at was Magglio Ordonez. However, the likelihood of Ordonez being available at a price the Rays could afford is fairly low. Everything would have to fall just right for Maggs to end up in a Tampa Bay uniform next season. A player the Rays should look at, and would not break the purse strings to acquire, is Marcus Thames.

Everyone should be fairly familiar with Thames by now. If you're unaware of his time with the Tigers or his 2010 season with the Yankees, you may best remember him for hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw at the big league level, off of Randy Johnson no less. Next year will be Thames' 10th in the Majors in some capacity. He's never been a full time player; in fact he's never cracked 400 at bats in a season largely due to his butchery in the outfield . He is seen as a platoon player by many (and the numbers show it) yet he's gotten more career at bats against RHP than LHP. In fact, 2010 was the first time in five years his at bats vs LHP surpassed those vs RHP. Let's take a look at his career splits:

LHP: 750AB: .264/.333/.505  ISO: .241  wOBA: .359

RHP: 1011AB: .236/.296/.480  ISO: .243  wOBA: .331

Unlike the Ordonez scenario Thames would strictly be a platoon player at DH, likely sharing the dance floor with the left handed Dan Johnson. You can see Thames has a near 40 point drop in OPB against RHP, yet the power numbers remain fairly close. I'm not going to put too much stock into his 2010 season where his wOBA vs RHP was a staggering .382, far better than the .354 vs LHP. Even his numbers against LHP last season seem a bit inflated due to a BABIP of .370. Seeing as how he's a high strikeout power hitter, expect that number to drop back down around his .293 career average next season. If you're thinking Thames' good 2010 season was partly due to him playing a lot of games in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium, you'd be wrong. He had two more at bats on the road and put up a wOBA of .399 which dwarfed the .333 he put up at home.

As I mentioned before, it likely won't take a lot of money (in Rays terms) to sign Thames. A raise on the $900k he made last season seems likely, but the $2.275 he made in 2009 would seem to be on the high side of things. I suppose a team not as well versed in advanced metrics could just look at Thames' 2010 season and give him a bigger contract. If that happens then the Rays simply move on to the next option, whatever that may be. If a full time DH isn't signed, and there isn't a good indication that one will be, then a platoon is the smartest option. A team could do far worse than pairing Marcus Thames with The Great Pumpkin Dan Johnson.

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