I wrote this as part of my Week In Review for RaysBaseball.com but I want to post it here to since what began as a simple paragraph looking at our starting second baseman turned into a full-fledged examination of him and what he can do for the team.
Nick Green has now been to the plate 155 times in a Rays uniform so we can at least start to get an idea of what he'll do for the team offensively. His power is about where it was last year, not going to scare anyone but enough to keep pitchers honest. After that horrid week his average is close to its 2004 level as well. The difference, and it's a big one, is his OBP which is 68 points higher than it was with the Braves despite only an eight point increase in batting average. He has already drawn five more walks than last year despite 135 fewer plate appearances. His pitches per plate appearance is way up this season, 4.12 as opposed to 3.47 in 2004, and he has increased his BB/K ratio from .19 to .50, a huge improvement.
Could this be a fluke? 4.12 is a rather high P/PA number, Green would be tied for 8th in the league if he qualified, but look at some of the other players on the list. Not all the guys in the top 20 are frequent walkers and not all of them are even good. P/PA obviously isn't a direct indicator of high walk totals but considering Green's approach at the plate I believe the increase in pitches seen will continue to translate into more walks. The P/PA number is pretty high but not so high as to be thought of as an outlier. We won't know until later in the season but at this point I'd be willing to say that I think this newfound on-base ability is for real.
So what exactly does this mean for the Rays? Well, Green's current .281/.380/.382 could be pretty similar to what he ends the season with. I think that power could increase a bit though if he continues to be patients, he'll be getting better pitches to hit and making better contact, something like .285/.385/.400 is easily attainable. Despite not being a really fast guy that steals bases like Crawford, Green would be a far better leadoff man because he actually GETS ON BASE. That will never happen with Lou though so the best we can hope for is him batting second, which should be done immediately. I have always favored Lugo there because he doesn't have much power and isn't a complete OBP hole but Green at this point is obviously a far better fit. Judging Green against those at his position, the average AL second baseman in 2004 hit .260/.319/401. Green might not have quite the slugging percentage (and is even farther from the raw power) but he would crush that OBP if he keeps this up. Combine that with his good defense at the keystone and the Rays might have themselves a solidly above average second baseman.
One last thing should be addressed and that's Green's splits.
Vs. Left: .354/.400/.463 (82 ABs)
Vs. Right: .236/.271/.352 (182 ABs)
Vs. Left: .458/.536/.667 (24 ABs)
Vs. Right: .240/.344/.317 (104 ABs)
Green is absolutely murdering left-handed pitching so far but he has more than four times as many at-bats against right-handers in 2005 so his overall numbers aren't being boosted nearly as much by batting against lefties like they were last year. He obviously won't do that well against lefties all year but I think the power against right-handers should come up some and at least he's still getting on base against them. I think both stat lines should move towards the overall line somewhat over the course of the season, resulting in similar performance but a less massive split. Regardless, Green isn't just a lefty-basher, as long as his power level gets back to normal against right-handers he isn't going to be a big liability in the lineup against them.
Poll attached, click on Entry Link below.
Will Nick Green maintain an OBP of .370 or above for the season and the near future?
This poll is closed
Need a larger sample size to decide