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Splitsville Pt. 3

It looks like we are going to beat this horse until its dead. Then we're gonna pick it back up and beat it some more.

Most of the talk of the past two days has been the Rays left handed splits. The acquisition of Matt Joyce just added more fuel to that fire. R.J. and Mr. Glass did a good job of showing where Joyce ranks among some of his lefty counterparts throughout the majors. The hard part is we just don't have enough real data on him to make a fair comparison. He doesn't have much experience against LHP at the major league level and it is tough to rely on minor league data. Will he be .720 OPS against LHP? Maybe. Will he be a .520 OPS like Gabe Gross? Unlikely, but we really don't know. What we do know is the Rays have at least seven starters we can pencil in as of today (Pena,  Iwamura, Crawford, Upton, Longoria, Navarro, Bartlett) for next year and they have enough data that we can take a look at them.

One trend I noticed is a lot of the Rays hitters had down seasons against southpaws. Nobody knows why, but of the six (Longoria excluded) returning starters, only Jason Bartlett had a rise in OPS vs. LHP. In fact, the other five starters (Pena, Iwamura, Crawford, Upton, Navarro) saw their LHOPS drop by 44 points or more off their career number. 




























The Rays may solve their struggles against lefties simply by having a few of their own hitters having better seasons. I'd also like to remind you that the Rays had 1679 team at-bats vs. LHP. That sounds like a lot, but not in comparison to the 3862 at-bats they had against RHP. Yes, they did struggle against LHP, but 70% of the time they are facing a right hander and they finished 7th in the Majors with a team OPS of .778 against righties.

Still, the Joyce acquisition has some saying the Rays must now go out and sign a right-handed DH. While it would be nice to have a little more balance I don't think it's necessarily a must. The Rays will have Willy Aybar, who had a .794 LHOPS in '08 that matches his career LHOPS at .794. The Rays also have Ben Zobrist on the bench, who by fluke or not, had a LHOPS of .804 last year.  Even if the Rays don't end up with Milton Bradley and settle on the left-handed Jason Giambi, I'd certainly welcome a guy who owns a an OPS of .854 against lefties over the course of 1868 at-bats.

And finally, the '08 Rays split 262 at-bats against lefties between Jonny Gomes, Gabe Gross, Eric Hinske, and Justin Ruggiano. Their respective LHOPS's last season: .705, .585, .488 and .461. Matt Joyce may be great against lefties at some point in his career, but right now he doesn't need to be great to be an upgrade over what we had last year.

Oh, and the kid plays pretty good D on top of that.