Where Ramirez needs to improve in 2011

Our regular statistical survey on some of the notable baseball moves from the past week

What are the biggest areas to watch for new Tampa Bay Rays DH Manny Ramirez in 2011?


RamirezTwo things to track, based on the data provided to us by Inside Edge (which does video review for every major league pitch) are his performance against breaking pitches, and his production against pitches that are thrown in areas in which he has a history of driving the ball.

The biggest area of decline for Ramirez has been in how he fared when a right-handed pitcher threw him a curveball or slider.

Last season, Ramirez missed on 49 percent of the swings he took against those pitches from right-handers, a significant jump from how frequently he missed in each of the prior three seasons (28 percent in 2007, 34 percent in 2008, 35 percent in 2009).

That led to him hitting .140 in at-bats that ended with a breaking ball from a righty, a figure 86 points below league average and 96 points below what he’d done in 2009.

One particular area of the strike zone Ramirez struggled with was on pitches located in the middle of the plate, and those that came middle-in.

Inside Edge charts a stat, “Well-Hit Average,” a rating based primarily on line drives and deep outfield fly balls. From 2005 to 2009, Ramirez’s Well-Hit Average on pitches charted by Inside Edge was .199 on pitches over the middle of the plate, and .114 against pitches that were middle-in. Both of those are significantly better than league average.

In 2010, those numbers dipped to .127 and .075 respectively, partly explaining the struggles he had last season.

-- Derek Czenczelewski

Damon, Pavano contracts in perspective

At the moment, Johnny Damon’s $5.25 million salary makes the highest-paid player on the Tampa Bay Rays for 2011. He’s the only player on the team slated to earn at least $5 million next season.

A search of Cot’s Baseball Contracts shows that every team has at least one player earning at least $5 million in 2011.

The Royals are the only team without a player whose base salary is $5 million, but newly-signed Billy Butler’s $3 million salary and $2 million signing bonus put that deal at the $5 million mark for this season.

Did You Know?
On Vernon Wells/Juan Rivera

A check of the stats of recently swapped outfielders Vernon Wells and Juan Rivera shows that over the last two seasons, their production is an almost perfect statistical match. -- Jon Costa

The two-year, $16.5 million contract that Carl Pavano inked with the Minnesota Twins is nearly an unprecedented free agent signing for the franchise.

Not only is it just the third multi-year free agent contract given to a pitcher by the team, but it’s also only the second time that Minnesota has spent at least $10 million on a free agent pitcher over the last 20 offseasons.

In 1995 the team handed Rick Aguilera a three-year $9 million contract , its longest for a pitcher and their only previous multi-year deal.

In 2004 the Twins gave Brad Radke a two-year, $18 million dollar deal, its largest contract given to a free agent pitcher.

-- Katie Sharp

Boyer suited for ROOGY role

Over the last few years, statisticians have referred to left-handed specialists as LOOGYs (left-handed one-out guys). Now, we’ve begun to see the term ROOGY (for right-handers) tossed around a little bit. The pitcher for whom it may be the best fit is recently-signed New York Mets reliever, Blaine Boyer.

Biggest Differential
Opp BA vs LHB/RHB (2010)

Right-handed hitters hit .198 against him last season. Left-handed hitters drilled him for a .352 opponents batting average. Among those who faced at least 100 hitters from each side of the plate, no pitcher last season had a wider gap in opponents batting average between righties and lefties than Boyer did, 154 points.

The pitcher on the opposite end of the spectrum was Angels righty Scot Shields. Right-handed hitters batted .333 against him. Left-handers hit just .172, an unusual 161-point difference for a right-handed pitcher.

-- Mark Simon