Tampa Bay Rays should bring back Luke Scott

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Is Luke Scott worth the $5M gamble that the Rays would have to take to keep him in 2013? I believe so.

Luke Scott's 2011 season was cut short by shoulder surgery and the Rays took a gamble hoping that he'd be healthy come spring training and supply a powerful bat to the middle of their lineup. He was brought along gingerly during the spring and it appeared that their patience had paid dividends as Scott opened the 2012 season on a tear. In 19 April games he hit .266/.319/.594 including 5 home runs in 69 plate appearances. The only negative in his opening month was a strained hamstring that cost him 4 games. The remainder of the season was a roller coaster with periods of good and bad resulting in a slash line of .229/.285/.439, a wOBA of .310, and a wRC+ of 99.

Scott began to struggle in May hitting .216/.288/.371 with only 4 homers in 111 plate appearances. His struggles continued into June and on June 9th he landed on the disabled list due to back spasms causing him to miss 17 games. Prior to going on the disabled list he was mired in an 0-12 stretch which extended to an 0-41 streak which included striking out 13 times while walking only once. He finally broke out of his slump on July 6th by belting a 2-run homer off Indians starter Justin Masterson who spoke after the game about giving up the hit:

"I was just trying to be friendly," said Masterson, trying to be facetious. "I saw Luke Scott was struggling quite a bit. So I figured: 'What the heck, let's give him an opportunity to get out of that.' I mean, he's a good guy. We don't want any trouble. I gave him a nice pitch to hit. It's just people helping people. I'm a giving individual." - mlb.com

The home run off Masterson seemed to be the antidote to Scott's problems as his bat warmed up over the next 10 games hitting .385 (15 for 39) including 3 homers. Unfortunately the injury bug would short circuit the momentum as he strained his oblique forcing him to the disabled list where he missed 28 games. He returned in mid-August and struggled through most of the remainder of the month and into early September but picked it up down the final few weeks and began to once again resemble the old Luke Scott but this time it was the season end and not an injury that halted progress in its tracks.

The numbers suggest that he lost control of the strike zone in 2012. Prior to 2012 his walk rate was in the range of 9.9% to 12.5% but this dropped to only 6.1% in 2012. A possible reason for the drop in walks was his abnormally high amount of swingsoutside the strike zone. His career range was 19.9% to 27% but in 2012 this jumped to 33.9%.

Shortly after the World Series ends the Rays are going to have to determine whether or not they are going to pick up his 2013 option valued at $6M or if they are going to buy it out at $1M. The Rays and Scott could also come to an agreement on a contract extension which could include a lower base salary in 2013 in exchange for a guaranteed extra year in 2014. If the Rays and Scott can't come to an agreement on a contract extension I'd like to see the Rays gamble on paying Scott the $6M in 2013..

The Rays will be seeking offense this offseason and will look for help at first base, outfield, and designated hitter. With a full offseason of baseball conditioning Scott may be able to help in all three areas something he was unable to do in 2012. As for the lack of plate discipline? Hopefully, this was simply been a function of pressing too hard or possibly compensating due to various injuries that may have lingered even after he returned to action. Ideally the Rays work out an agreement to keep him at a lower dollar figure but even if they are unable to restructure his contract I believe they should gamble the $5M on Scott rebounding in 2013.

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