Rays Attempt To Jump Start Season With More Spring At-Bats

The Rays have openly admitted that they must get off to a better start in 2010. Blame it on the "championship week" celebrations, the tough schedule, or the a-a-a-a-never mind, the 2009 team found themselves in an early hole and were never able to dig themselves out.

With the focus on a good start, Joe Maddon wants to give his regular players more at-bats in the spring in hopes of knocking some of that early season rust off. Plans call for everyday players to get around 60 at-bats with that number jumping to 70 or more in some cases.

During the opening month of the 2009 season, the Rays had a team weighted on-base average of .351. That's pretty decent and was sixth best in the league. However that wOBA did not translate into runs as the team scored just 110 runs; eight best in the league.

Looking at individual cases, many of the teams most important players got off to good starts.

Here is the wOBA breakdown for March/April 2009.

Longoria

0.476

Zobrist

0.416

Bartlett

0.402

Pena

0.400

Crawford

0.340

Burrell

0.338

Upton

0.284

Navarro

0.202

minimum 50 plate appearances

Outside of B.J. Upton and Dioner Navarro, the lineup did pretty well on a case by case basis. Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena got off to great starts.  Even Pat Burrell had a decent first month. We know that Upton did not have much of a spring training last season, and Navi was just being Navi. Hopefully a 100% B.J. Upton, and new backstop, Kelly Shoppach can pick up the slack from last season. Other than that, it's hard to see how most of the hitters can get off to a better start in 2010.

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