The numbers on Ramirez for Bay

If the rumor is true, our new left fielder starting August 1 could be Pirates outfielder Jason Bay. While he doesn’t come close to the hitting ability or power of Manny Ramirez in his prime, the 29-year old is still a good hitter (.282/.376/.516 lifetime) and has been viewed as a more balanced and complete player, with excellent outfield instincts and a very strong arm. Let’s see if that view holds water.

At the plate
Bay has hit .284/.377/.523 this season with 20 HR and 62 RBI. How similar is that to Manny’s production this season? Let’s take a look at some of the more familiar sabermetric measures:

       Ramirez      Bay
OPS    .932         .900
OPS+   142          137
EQA    .307         .322
RC/27  7.82         7.85
WPA    3.99         3.92
BRAA   27.33        25.45
P/PA   3.94         4.12

So despite Manny’s edge in batting average, this looks like it’s close to being a wash. This is a quick and dirty comparison, but I think it’s conclusive enough that there won’t be a precipitous drop-off. He may even do a couple of things better than the 36-year old version of Manny. Bay is exactly the type of patient, OBP-oriented hitter the Red Sox brass love. He won’t hit 30 HR every year, but he’s good for about 25 HR on average, and if his knees hold up, he could play in left for several more years.

In the field

Here’s where I was really surprised. Bay has always been an above-average left fielder, and was a total rock star in 2006, saving the Pirates 22 runs over a replacement free agent and 11 runs over an average left fielder. To my surprise, Bay’s actually been way BELOW average as a fielder since 2007 (I guess I just don’t get to see the Pirates play enough). This season, Baseball Prospectus has him at an astounding 18 runs below average in the field! In contrast, Manny has actually been 2 fielding runs above average this year. One comforting thing is that Bay’s RZR of .862 is right around where it has been since 2005. Ramirez is at .814, the best of his career by a huge margin (can you say contract year?).

For Bay, everything seems to trace back to his having arthroscopic surgery on his knee after the 2006 season. Bay has not been the same in the outfield, and that bothers me; and it might also be affecting his hitting. 2007, the year after the surgery, was his worst year by far, as he hit just .247/.327/.418. All of this concerns me, and I sure hope that the Sox do their homework on Bay’s knees before pulling the trigger.

2 Responses to The numbers on Ramirez for Bay

  1. Pingback: Done deal: Manny a Dodger « Red Sox Talk

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    In terms of what to expect, think of Jason Bay as a more consistent J.D. Drew-type of hitter (without the big platoon split). Bay has hit lefties and righties pretty equally well over his career.

    A more involved analysis post is on the way!

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