Everybody Loves Rays: Desmond Jennings

???????????????????????????????????== The RH Outfielder the M’s are Missing? ==

If David Price is shooting too high in terms of Rays return in a major deal involving Nick Franklin, how about Desmond Jennings?

Commenter andrewlong7 posted the question, and it’s worth pondering.

It’s pretty obvious to see that in the post-Franklin Gutierrez world, the Mariner outfield is LH-heavy.  Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley and Logan Morrison all hit lefty.  Abraham Almonte is a swich-hitter, but stronger from the left side.

Only Corey Hart and his suspect knees is a full-time RH hitter.

And, of course, the infield tilts LH as well — but Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Brad Miller aren’t likely to go anywhere, and Justin Smoak is another switch-hitter better from the left side.

So there’s a need for another RH hitter, and the OF is the best place for one.  [That’s why the part-time role for Guti was a good fit.  But that’s by the boards now.]

Enter Desmond Jennings?

He’s split time between center and left for the Rays, and Tampa Bay has some flexibility since Ben Zobrist can move around the diamond.  If Franklin goes back to Florida (he’s a native of the Orlando area), then he could man second and Zobrist could fill the OF spot vacated by Jennings.

In theory.  Just blogger noodling at this point.

But is he worth fussing over?  Yes.

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Here’s the spreadsheet.  As always, the “%+” columns are keyed to the 10-year MLB average, which is set at 100.  I have now started highlighting those columns in blue, for some contrast.  The final three columns are the “designer” stats, indicating non-random plate skills (PSA+) and non-random offensive production (Conv+), and the combination thereof (Comp).  More here.

Year Age PA HR%+ BB%+ K%+ XBH%+ PSA+ Conv+ Comp
2010 23 24 0 99 107 107 92 100 92
2011 24 287 129 129 86 103 114 107 121
2012 25 563 86 97 82 89 85 90 75
2013 26 602 86 127 94 109 112 105 118

What we see is that Jennings had a very nice rookie year, struggled a bit the next season, and then came back strong in 2013.  If you’ve been following us at all, you know we jump all over guys who get XBH and walks without striking out a ton.  Well, that’s Jennings.  Does that make him a star? No.  But he’s shown he can be a very productive part of an everyday lineup, and even his “down” year wasn’t too bad.

And … those numbers only show what he did at the plate: Jennings had 20, 31 and then 20 steals.  He’s an asset on the basepaths.

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What’s he worth?  He’ll be arbitration-eligible in 2015 and the two years after that.  Same status as  Ackley, and a year behind Saunders and Morrison.  I think it’s worthwhile to get a RH hitter into that mix.

But would the Rays give him up?  Probably not,  unless it were the right deal.  Certainly not for Franklin alone.

If there is a mega-deal in which an offensive player comes back to Seattle, however, then absolutely Jennings is the one I’d target.

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One thought on “Everybody Loves Rays: Desmond Jennings

  1. Thanks for breaking it down for me. I don’t know how much the M’s brass has shifted their thoughts with the latest Walker news (no one knows outside of about 5 people Z trusts, I’m guessing) but if this option were available, I’d be very interested.

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