So, the fifth starter battle might be more important/more interesting, but I do love the bench battle that is going down. In order to examine this topic thoroughly, we must first acknowledge the most important aspects of the bench bat (emphasis on bat). Most of the attributes that will win the job will be a reflection of Wilson Betemit's weaknesses
-Betemit is slated to get the at-bats vs. RHP as the DH, and with good reason. His career slash line against RHP is .281//349/.474 (.824OPS) across over 1500 ABs. Against LHP he is at .228/.285/.352 (.637OPS) over 500+ABs. So Lefty Crusher is the most paramount element. http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...etemwi01.shtml
-It would be preferable if the bench bat was capable of backing up the corners, both OF and IF. Betemit is a butcher at 3B, I don?t trust him at 1B and of the 67 innings he's played the outfield, its not been pretty.
-The ability to pinch hit is key as well, facing tough LHP as the game gets into the late innings.
-Options are swanky too.
So the candidates:
Conor Jackson (Age 31 in May): http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...acksco01.shtml
-Jackson's career slash is .271/.351/.407 (.757OPS) over nearly 2200 ABs. He didn't play MLB ball last year and hasn't posted a respectable OPS since 2008 when he showed a .823OPS. He does have a career .283/.381/.436 (.818OPS) against LHPs (756ABs) with more BBs than SOs (99/83) and has held his own against RHPs (.265/.337/.394/.731) over 1542ABs.
-He has played both corner OF positions, with most his action at LF with decent FLD% numbers, but obviously FLD% is barely a snapshot. His most extensive fielding is at 1B with good % numbers and a smidge at 3B (only 31.2 innings played)
-In 65 Pinch hitting ABs, he only has a .185/.321/.323(.644OPS), though has walked more than K?d (13/7) and has 3 HRs
-No Options (not on 40 man roster/MiLB deal); Likeliness to be claimed if DFA'd: Moderate
Steve Pearce: (age 30 in April) http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...earcst01.shtml
-Pearce has limited MLB ABs (624 spread over 6 partial seasons) and sports a slash of .234/.309/.369 (.677OPS). He shows a .266/.343/.464 (.807) line against LHPs vs. a .214/.287/.310 (.597OPS) against RHPs. Both those lines are against less than 400 ABs a piece.
-Like Jackson, he has played all 4 corners, with less defensive prowess however according to FLD%. His action at 3B is even more limited than Jacksons and under a .900 FLD%
-As a PH, he has slashed a .177/.261/.290 (.551 OPS) over 62 ABs, with 3 HRs
- No Options (not on 40 man roster/MiLB deal). Likeliness of being claimed if DFA'd is High
Lew Ford (age 37 in August): http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl...fordle01.shtml
-Lewwww sports a .268/.345/.399 (.744 OPS) across 1585 ML ABs, though only 71 ABs since 2007 (all with the 2012 O?s). Over his career, Ford has a .252/.324/.411 (.734 OPS against LHP and a .277/.356/.393 (.749OPS) against RHPs.
-Ford is strictly an OF, but his benefit is his ability to play CF in an emergency.
-As a pinch hitter, Lew has excelled. He has a .323/.475.581 (1.056OPS) over 31 ABs, with 2 HRs and 8BBs vs. 9Ks.
-No Options (not on 40 man roster/MiLB deal). Likeliness of being claimed if DFA'd is Low
In sum, of the 3 main candidates, (I exclude Russ Canzler because there is no way I can see Buck taking him over these 3 after his weak ST showing), its hard to choose. Jackson looks the most complete, but its been awhile since he's actually done anything productive. All 3 are wildcards and it will be interesting to see how they are utilized. My wildcard is Ryan Flaherty who can play all over the place and there has even been talk about him serving as the emergency Catcher (Kevin Millar anyone?). A lot of this has to do with the OF situation in regards to Reimold and Markakis's health. If both are still aching come the regular season, I could see Chris Dickerson as a dark horse due to being a true outfielder with offensive strengths, but he's not much against LHP (.661 OPS against LHP vs. a .778 OPS against RHP over 79 ABs and 439 ABs respectively. All MLB stats). A lot of this stuff is small sample size but it is still interesting to me to examine.
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