Sean Rodriguez, who will turn 27 in April, was acquired from the Angels on September 1, 2009 as the player to be named later in the Scott Kazmir trade. During his first two seasons with the Rays he has filled the role of super utility player by starting 118 games at 2b, 50 games at 2b, 19 games at 3b, and 8 games in the OF(4 in CF, 3 in RF, 1 in LF), and 5 games at 1b. He has also shown the ability to hit left handed pitching posting a slash line of .292/.375/.442 in 136 PA in 2010 and .273/.389/.475 in 2011. He also is a threat to steal bases tallying 24 stolen bases while only being caught 10 times.
In 2010 he had 378 PAs and hit .251/.308/.397 with an wOBA of.316 and in 2011 he was given more opportunity and in 436 PA he hit .223/.323/.357 with an wOBA of .303. His drop off in his numbers can be seen in his decrease BABIP which was .324 in 2010 but decreased to .268 in 2011. There was some positive trends in his game as his walk rate increased from 5.6% in 2010 to 8.7% in 2011 and he reduced his strikeout rate from 25.7% in 2010 to 20.0% in 2011.
Rodriguez has been very good at hitting left handed pitching. In 2010 in 136 PA he hit .292/.375/.442 with an wOBA of .360 and in 167 PA in 2011 he hit .273/.389/.475 with an wOBA of .377. His BB% increased from 10.3% in 2010 to 12.0% in 2011 while his strikeout rate decreased from 27.2% in 2010 to 16.2% in 2011.
He has struggled in his career in against right handed pitching. In 2010 in 242 PA he hit .229/.270/.372 with a wOBA of .283 and in 269 PA in 2011 he hit .192/.280/.286 a wOBA of .259. His BB% increased from 2.9% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2011 and his K% decreased from 24.8% to 22.3%.
At the end of the 2011 season Joe Maddon began to give Sean Rodriguez more time as the Rays shortstop. Defensively he committed 9 errors but 6 of them were of the throwing variety. He also began to show more patience at the plate as Tommy Rancel points out in his ESPNFlorida article titled Sean Rodriguez, Rays' 2012 Shortstop?
As Rodriguez’s playing time increased so did his discipline. Though still aggressive at the plate, his walk rate improved in each month of the season, culminating in a 9.6% walk rate in the month September. He struck out just 12% of the time in final month of the season – his lowest monthly rate since joining the Rays.
Spring training opened and Joe Maddon suggested that their was a competition for the Rays everyday shortstop between Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac. Both players have dealt with injuries this spring, Rodriguez with a tendon issue in a finger which may be inhibiting him at the plate and Reid Brignac with a plantar issue in his foot. Brignac's injury is the more serious of the two and has probably landed him on the disabled list to start the season.
This leaves Sean Rodriguez as the Rays everyday shortstop to start the season. He should know that his name will be in the lineup everyday regardless of a left handed pitcher or right handed pitcher is on the mound and should be able to be relaxed and comfortable at the plate as well as in the field.
Rodriguez will have an opportunity, much like the end of last year, to once and for all prove that he is an everyday player. He needs to continue to improve his on-base skills versus right handed pitching, be a smarter base runner, and remain focused on putting maximum effort into each groundball hit to him and converting them into outs.