MLB Hot Stove: Breaking down platoon OF market after A's sign Matt Joyce
Part-time players can make a huge difference if employed correctly
The Oakland Athletics have agreed to sign outfielder Matt Joyce to a two-year, $11 million deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. There's no doubt this could be filed as a non-sexy move, notably at this point in the offseason, but Joyce could be very useful.
Coming off a terrible 2015 season, the former All-Star hit .242/.403/.463 (131 OPS+) with 10 doubles and 13 homers in only 231 at-bats last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates . He's absolutely a part-timer and his career splits show why. The lefty-swinging Joyce hits .252/.353/.449 against right-handers and .185/.265/.310 against Southpaws.
So he'll provide good on-base and decent power chops against right-handers, in all likelihood. This is sometimes how clubs not looking to spend big money have to operate. Instead of grabbing one bigger name player, put together a tandem.
For example, let's say the Seattle Mariners eventually settle into a Danny Valencia and Seth Smith platoon in left field. That doesn't sound too appealing to the masses, but Valencia is a career .321/.373/.500 hitter against lefties while Smith hits .272/.355/.472 against right-handers. Platooning them is tantamount to that being one starter and that's a damn good one at the plate.
Here are some other veteran outfielders in free agency who could make nice platoon pieces for 2017:
[Please note that we're obviously excluding players who will be everyday starters, are switch-hitters or have somewhat even platoon splits]
Brandon Moss - He hit 28 homers last season, 25 of which came against right-handers. Sure, he doesn't play nearly as much against fellow lefties, but Moss slugged 150 points higher against righties.
Chris Coghlan - His overall line in 2016 looks bad, but the Coghlan hit .252 with a .391 OBP for the Chicago Cubs . His career OPS is 148 points higher against righties.
Colby Rasmus - He could still find everyday work, but if not, Rasmus has great power against right-handers, with 124 of his career 156 homers against them. He gains 119 points of OPS, too.
Ryan Raburn - Against Southpaws, Raburn gains 15 points of batting average, 47 of OBP and 96 of slugging.
Desmond Jennings - Probably more a "change of scenery" hopeful after the Tampa Bay Rays released him, Jennings has hit .264/.346/.431 against left-handers in his career. That's certainly workable if a team has a left-handed counterpart.
Justin Ruggiano - Hoping for some power against a lefty? Ruggiano might be your man. In 499 career at-bats against Southpaws, he's hitting .275/.338/.527 with 39 doubles and 27 homers.
Drew Stubbs - How about some speed? Stubbs can fly. He's also a career .272/.348/.444 hitter against lefties.