Previous entries in my position-by-position comparison of the 2014 and 2015 Indians:
After moving through seven positions where the primary players were returning from last year (though in some cases hoping for more health, production or both), we finally get to the one spot the team made a significant effort to upgrade this off-season. Of course, we thought that was true about RF last year too, didn't we?
A reminder: I pulled a list of every player who took the field in that role for the Indians in 2014, listed their wOBA and UZR/150, and the percentage of the team's PA they took in that position.
For the 2015 stats, you are seeing ZiPS projections for wOBA and my projection for UZR/150 based on what the player has done in the past. The 2015 playing time projections are also mine.
For wOBA, the 2014 numbers are position specific (meaning, for example, that in this post you're seeing what Santana did only when he was playing first base), while the 2015 numbers assume the player has the same wOBA regardless of where they play on the diamond. UZR/150 is always position-specific.
The Indians Total line is the pro-rated average of the guys who played (or will play) the position based on playing time; the AL average line is exactly what it sounds like - the average production for the league at the position.
|Player||14 wOBA||14 UZR||14 PT||15 wOBA||15 UZR||15 PT|
The Indians made what looked like a smart buy-low decision last year, bringing in David Murphy as the strong-side of a platoon partnership with Ryan Raburn. They combined to take 80% of the PA the Indians got from RF, and the results were...not ideal.
Murphy was just a tick below average with the bat, but Raburn was more than a tick below average. And as bad as we remember Raburn being, literally every other player who made an appearance in RF last year was worse. And the picture was no prettier on defense.
Enter Brandon Moss. Moss is coming off a hip injury, but looks to be a huge boost to this offense. And while he is not a great defender, by any means, the team defense in RF was so bad last year, it looks like he'll help there, too.
Assuming Raburn is on the roster (and it looks like he will be), I still see him and Murphy getting the lion's share of the reserve duty in RF. And don't be surprised if my estimate of split is backwards - Raburn can play lefty-killer for Moss just like he was supposed to for Murphy last year, relegating Murphy to end-of-the-bench duty.
The end result is a big improvement, from a decidedly below average position to a position that is enough above average offensively to balance out the still-below-average defense.
Am I too optimistic? Is Moss's hip going to sap his power and limit his value?