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Stop platooning Bradley Zimmer

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An open letter to Terry Francona.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Terry Francona,

Before I get started, please know that I am aware you will sweat out more baseball knowledge than I will ever have in my lifetime. Your understanding of the game and your passion for it are second to none, and I could not imagine a better leader for the team that I love.

Now with that said, come on for the love of everything please let Bradley Zimmer play baseball everyday. Platoons are enticing, I know. And with most of what you have been given in the outfield, it’s normally the right answer. Brandon Guyer is a great platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall. Abraham Almonte was a great platoon with Tyler Naquin. Austin Jackson is much better than we expected, but there’s no way he should ever be starting over Bradley Zimmer.

Platooning Naquin made sense, I will give you that. His minor league numbers show a guy who struggles to hit left-handed pitching. Here’s a full breakdown of his numbers against lefties, which I’m sure you have already seen, but bear with me I have readers to inform:

  • 2016 (AAA): 2-for-15
  • 2015 (AAA): 47 AB, .213/.269/.425
  • 2015 (AA): 37 AB, .324/.366/.405
  • 2014 (AA): 104 AB, .250/.319/.269
  • 2013 (AA): 31 AB, .226/.250/.355
  • 2012 (A-): 35 AB, .314/.455/.343

Minor league numbers aren’t everything, but he was platooned most seasons in the minors, with the exception of 2014, and it’s pretty clear why. He was never thought of as an option against left-handers in the system, so it’s not surprising he wasn’t in the majors.

Bradley Zimmer is a different story. Similar to Naquin, he struggles to make good contact against lefties, but he still maintains his excellent eye at the plate. Keep an eye on his on-base percentage through the years. While his average dips and dives at higher levels against southpaws, he keeps drawing walks. All while maintaining his speed and defensive acumen.

  • 2017 (AAA): 31 AB, .323/.389/.581
  • 2016 (AAA): 29 AB, .172/.314/.172
  • 2016 (AA): 84 AB, .179/.349/.274
  • 2015 (AA): 39 AB, .231/.362/.359
  • 2015 (A+): 73 AB, .315/.432/.479
  • 2014 (A): 0-for-1
  • 2014 (A-): 43 AB, .372/.509/.558

Now, of course, this isn’t about Zimmer versus Naquin. I assume you read the site everyday, but again I’ll link the other post about the subject here for readers who might miss it. No, this is about Zimmer versus Austin Jackson or Abraham Almonte when he returns. Zimmer should win out either contest every time.

Even if we get the worst of Zimmer against left-handed pitchers, he will draw walks and play better defense than either of Jackson or Almonte. And with Zimmer’s speed, taking a free base as opposed to a double here and there is not the end of the world. He’s going to strike out a lot, sure, but so are a lot of players in baseball nowadays. Zimmer is the more talented player, he plays better defense no matter the handedness of the opposing pitcher, and his goatee is fabulous. You can’t ignore these details forever.

You started Zimmer against a lefty on Sunday and it went pretty okay. He was 0-for-3, but drew a walk, and held down center field better than Austin Jackson could ever dream of doing. Now, I know the reason Zimmer was there was probably because Michael Brantley was resting and there weren’t any other options. Please just considering doing it again, even when there are other options.

I’m not saying you have to do this, or that you should even consider the word of some loser on his couch writing this while watching Tekken 7 tutorials like a professional baseball writer. Thanks for reading this, Tito. I’ve enclosed a handful of Double Bubble, but please don’t take that as any kind of bribe. Nor the briefcase of unmarked bills.

Thanks,
Matt Lyons
Guy who made the Tom Hamilton GIFs