As Tommy showed yesterday, the offensive additions are better against righties. What Tommy did not show, is the new balance. Both Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford had larger platoon splits than their spiritual successors. Crawford’s wOBA versus lefties over the past several seasons sits around .310, while Damon’s is near league average. Ramirez’s bat can bang both hands, while Pena was vulnerable versus lefties. The overall results create this look:
Those are park-adjusted numbers and prorated to 500 plate appearances. This is to show the contributions of the players over the same time. Being healthy and staying in the lineup is a huge part of contributing, but everyone reading this should know to adjust for potential health issues with Ramirez (and Pena to an extent). Damon, meanwhile, has at least 600 plate appearances in each season since 1998 started.
An interesting dynamic, which is difficult to account for, is the increase in contact ability. Ramirez struck out 157 times in nearly 900 plate appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers while Damon has struck out 188 times over the last 1,239 plate appearances. Pena struck out 158 times last season in fewer than 600 plate appearances. This results in an increase in batting average. Over the last three seasons, the new pair has recorded 833 hits in 2,813 at-bats while the old pair recorded 813 in 3,094 at-bats.
That’s a .296 average versus a .263 average, equivalent to roughly 17 hits over 500 at-bats. A higher batting average does not mean an improved offense, but hitting for contact is a good skill to possess, just not as good as the batting average worship would leave one to believe. The old pair had seven more extra base hits, but remember, this is in 281 additional at-bats. On a rate basis, the new pair actually has a higher percentage of XBH/AB. The new pair also had 11 more walks.
By now, the point is obvious. The new pair look like upgrades to the offense based on recent history. The refrain “past success does not guarantee future success” will be commonplace from now until the end of the season, but for now, past success suggests the Rays’ offense is at worst equal for this tradeoff, and at best, possibly the finest in franchise history.