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The Rays are full of contact and power

Big Swingin' Dickerson
Big Swingin' Dickerson
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the off-season, Ryan Pollock at SB Nation's Orioles site Camden Chat set about making sense of the team's roster, focusing on contact and power. Keen hitting is the bedrock of every Orioles roster, but these two tools in particular are a renewed focus for the 2016 Rays.

The additions of Corey Dickerson and Steve Pearce, as well as decent hitting role players Logan Morrison and Hank Conger, show a desire to have players with power on the Rays, something the team had let slip out of focus.

Tampa Bay also made a change in approach last season to more contact and aggressive swinging, something that nearly helped the Rays over the hump and into the playoffs as the pitching lagged through injury. The hope is that the aforementioned additions, the returned health of some key contributors (Desmond Jennings, James Loney), and the new approach can coalesce into success at the plate.

So where do the new-look Rays stand?

This was Pollock's approach in his analysis of contact (as judged by Contact%) and power (as judged by ISO):

I gathered Contact% and Isolated Power (ISO) data for all non-pitchers with at least 250 total PA in the years 2012-2015. I chose this threshold to minimize survivor bias; if I only showed qualified players, the Contact and ISO numbers would be artificially boosted, since only players good at one skill or the other stick around to qualify for the batting title.

I then compared each metric to its average to create a "+" score where 100 is average, every point below 100 is 1% worse than average, and every point above 100 is 1% better than average.

Pollock then took his findings and dropped it into a graphical representation, finding the 2016 orioles to be a high power, low contact offense.

The Rays are a different breed, but look to be productive in their own way -- particularly big swingin' Corey Dickerson. One tool tends to be average, and the other above so for the Rays starting position players.

The only players at or below 100 in both categories are Rene Rivera and Brandon Guyer. Here's a table of all Rays players who qualified for Pollock's analysis.

Name Contact+ ISO+ Percentile
Corey Dickerson 98 167 98.1% (!)
Steve Pearce 98 149 93.9%
Evan Longoria 98 135 86.5%
Kevin Kiermaier 102 120 77.2%
Logan Morrison 105 110 69.1%
Steven Souza 89 128 65.9%
Brad Miller 100 105 58.2%
Hank Conger 96 108 57.2%
Desmond Jennings 101 101 55.3%
Logan Forsythe 106 95 52.8%
Nick Franklin 91 103 44.9%
Brandon Guyer 100 93 42.8%
Rene Rivera 92 94 35.4%
James Loney 112 71 27.7%

Again, not every player on the Rays is covered here. This analysis implemented a 250 PA threshold between 2012-2015, which eliminates guys like Curt Casali or Tim Beckham from consideration.

Most remarkable here are how high Corey Dickerson scores among hitters (he distorted early attempts at building the graph of players above), and how low Loney falls, as it includes his successful seasons at the plate beyond his poor 2015.

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Let's jump into some player comparisons:

Name Contact+ ISO+
Carlos Correa 102 166
Mark Teixeira 102 163
Paul Goldschmidt 98 168
Corey Dickerson 98 167
Bryce Harper 95 163

Among baseball players with at least 250 PA since 2012, Corey Dickerson is 12th in the majors by percentile rankings, ranking 18th overall by merely ISO+.

The top ranked players by percentile are Encarnacion, Ortiz, Bautista, Trout, Cabrera, Stanton, C. Davis, Correa, F. Gutierrez, Teixeira, Goldy, and then Dickerson.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Andrew McCutchen 99 150
Carlos Quentin 96 152
Steve Pearce 98 149
Todd Frazier 96 148
Raul Ibanez 96 146

Pearce has been utilized advantageously when healthy, which helps his numbers along. When he is in the lineup for the Rays, expect him high in the order.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Travis Hafner 97 136
Stephen Piscotty 98 135
Derek Dietrich 99 133
Evan Longoria 98 135
Adam LaRoche 98 133
Mitch Moreland 96 135

This is not a ringing endorsement for Longoria's contact and power, the latter of which may be a declining asset.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Jayson Werth 103 123
Travis d'Arnaud 102 123
Neil Walker 103 119
Kevin Kiermaier 102 120
Justin Morneau 103 118

Here's a better feeling comparison. The Outlaw has contemporaries in a wide range of ages and players, but clearly projects as a potent MLB bat. Let's hope that continues.

Name Contact+ ISO+
A.J. Pierzynski 107 110
Alex Rios 107 108
Scott Rolen 106 109
Logan Morrison 105 110
Yuniesky Betancourt 105 109
Chris Coghlan 103 110

Logan Morrison slots in here alongside one player who could have been a similar acquisition target this off-season: Chris Coghlan. The defensive skill set differs, but the bat profile is similar.

For a more apt comparison, here is Morrison alongside two players he may effectively replace in the Rays lineup:

Name Contact+ ISO+
John Jaso 103 113
Logan Morrison 105 110
Asdrubal Cabrera 102 111

All three batters are closely ranked in the top third percentile, at 178, 184, and 195 overall.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Ian Desmond 94 127
Nolan Reimold 91 128
Jason Kubel 91 128
Andrew Brown 89 128
Steven Souza 89 128

Souza has struggled with contact, but his strength has come through. However that mere difference of five points from Desmond is a difference of 50 slots in the overall ranking (157 vs. 204).

Name Contact+ ISO+
Derek Norris 101 106
Paul Konerko 102 103
Brett Lawrie 101 104
Brad Miller 100 105
Wilson Ramos 100 105

The research did not rank players by position, but this is a respectable mark for a short stop. He places quite close to Conger, and four slots below Chase Headley by percentile (both 58%).

Name Contact+ ISO+
Dexter Fowler 98 108
Chase Headley 97 108
Will Venable 97 108
Hank Conger 96 108
Ryan Flaherty 96 107
Wil Myers 95 107

Now this is an impressive ranking for the switch hitting Conger. He will be difficult to demote at the start of the season, something the Rays are considering given his lack of experience with the major league pitching staff when compared to Rene Rivera and Curt Casali. Only Rivera is out of options among the three.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Matt Dominguez 103 102
Eric Hosmer 103 101
Chris Parmelee 101 102
Desmond Jennings 101 101
Alejandro De Aza 101 100

Jennings appears far down the list, but at a major league average mark overall since 2012. He's played through knee injuries, but his defense has been superb. Being average in contact and power is just fine.

Name Contact+ ISO+
J.J. Hardy 108 95
Juan Rivera 107 93
Zack Cozart 107 93
Logan Forsythe 106 95
Jason Kipnis 105 95
Gerardo Parra 104 94

This is where Logan Forsythe's career of not-great plate appearances catches up to him in the aggregate. However, his contemporaries of Kipnis and Parra make his percentile ranking (52.8%) not such a poor look.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Sean Rodriguez 92 105
Nick Castellanos 92 105
Kyle Blanks 91 103
Nick Franklin 91 103
Drew Stubbs 90 105
Addison Russell 90 105

Franklin has one stellar season to his name, but still profiles respectably.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Rajai Davis 102 94
Austin Jackson 102 94
Lorenzo Cain 101 95
Brandon Guyer 100 93
Brennan Boesch 100 91
Steve Tolleson 99 91

Overall, the bench player Guyer files in with an eclectic group of hitters. Cain is what he hopes to be.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Delmon Young 94 95
Kristopher Negron 94 95
Jackie Bradley Jr. 93 97
Yasmany Tomas 93 91
Rene Rivera 92 94

Rene Rivera completely revamped his swing this off-season, and only has one season of cuperior hitting to his name. A journeyman, these are not encouraging comps.

Name Contact+ ISO+
Darwin Barney 114 73
Nori Aoki 114 71
Erick Aybar 112 71
James Loney 112 71
Casey Kotchman 111 71

And finally, there's Loney, whose doubles-hitting game is not the end of the world when productive, but it does showcase him to be heavily weighted toward one side of the scale.

Thanks to Pollack for pulling the numbers. Thanks to the Rays for landing Dickerson and Pearce. This could be a very fun season.