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Day and Night: Do the Rays Have a Partying Problem?

Let's talk about the Rays and day games.

There seems to be two view points on the topic depending on who you talk to. One group insists the Rays struggle because their players are young and - apparently - like to take in the night life more than other teams' youth. The other labels the struggles as random fluctuation, after all, check out the American League average which shows players perform slightly worse in days than night and we're talking about 30% of the team's total plate appearances.

The first group has a logical point. You would suspect young players as the least likely to have self restraint over their liquor or smoke intake, but is it true? The Rays have the third youngest group of batters in the A.L., older than only Minnesota and Cleveland. Kansas City and Texas aren't too far behind the Rays either. Check the ranks (by OPS) in day and night games for these five teams:

Team/Day Rank/Night Rank






So, one moves down, three teams move up, and one doesn't move at all. How about for the five oldest group of hitters?






Two stay the same and three move down.

If you were basing decisions on player age and ability to play in day/night games off this sample - and you shouldn't - then you would prefer young players because 70% of their plate appearances come at night. The flawed assumption is that the players who struggle in day games are the youngsters. Here are the team numbers from the last two seasons:


09 Day BA OBP SGL K% BB%
Rays 0.255 0.331 0.417 24.3 9.3
AL Avg 0.264 0.335 0.426 20 9
09 Night BA OBP SLG  K% BB%
Rays 0.272 0.356 0.469 22.2 11.1
AL Avg 0.268 0.336 0.433 19.4 8.7
08 Day BA OBP SGL K% BB%
Rays 0.253 0.336 0.417 23.3 10
AL Avg 0.265 0.335 0.418 19.9 8.8
08 Night BA OBP SLG  K% BB%
Rays 0.263 0.342 0.425 21.6 9.9
AL Avg 0.269 0.336 0.421 18.6 8.5


You would expect Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton to struggle the most, right? After all, they're the young studs in town. The guys who have the gold diggers flock them and envious males buying them rounds deep into the night. Well, not quite, let's look at the bottom five of the day splits from this year:

Gabe Gross (68 PA) .522 OPS

Dioner Navarro (96 PA) .534 OPS

Michel Hernandez (43 PA) .593 OPS

Gabe Kapler (82 PA) .594 OPS

Pat Burrell (100 PA) .602 OPS

Not quite the young guys you were expecting right? I mean, does anyone see Gabe Gross doing anything unholy? B.J. Upton is next at .715, then Carlos Pena at .724. How about last year?

Gabe Gross (92 PA) .551 OPS

Carl Crawford (129 PA) .584 OPS

Jason Bartlett (130 PA) .711 OPS

Evan Longoria (144 PA) .736 OPS

Willy Aybar (124 PA) .738 OPS

And the top five performers?

Rocco Baldelli (44 PA) 1.116 OPS

Cliff Floyd (64 PA) .928 OPS

Jonny Gomes (59 PA) .926 OPS

Carlos Pena (184 PA) .872 OPS

B.J. Upton (181 PA) .832 OPS

So, we have the guy with the muscle disorder, two guys infamous for clubbing, the Rays leader in : )% and the notorious youth.

Over 300 day plate appearances Evan Longoria has a .757 OPS. Does that mean he's smoking too much weed, or drinking too much beer? No. It could simply be a deviation, much like his .793 OPS in 361 plate appearances during innings 1-3. I believe it was Mitchel G. Lichtman who wrote that baseball fans feel the need to explain every slight variance - I'm guilty of this myself - and I think that might be what comes into play here. Offenses go through peaks and valleys; this case just happens to involve a day/night split instead of June/July.

Do some players drink too much? Probably. Does it show up in the numbers this easily? Almost certainly not. That or, you know, Gross, Crawford, and Bartlett should work on becoming better role models for the youth. Oh, and how dare Gross and Ben Zobrist have a baby, do they know how much rest they'll lose because of it?