Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jenkins: Should he be platooned?


Jenkins (MJS/Emmanuel Lozano Photo)

In today's Journal-Sentinel, Drew Olson continues the paper's look at the Brewers Position-by-Position, with RF and Geoff Jenkins being the subject. Jenkins underproduced last year for a corner OF, especially one being paid $8 million. The numbers weren't terrible (.264/.325/.473, 27 HR, 93 RBI), and he did play excellent LF defense. However, his BB rate is pretty much awful for a power hitter (46 BB / 617 AB), and he K'd a career high 152 times. However, I think the major issue with Jenkins last year was his abysmal performance vs. LHP. His .215/.286/.380 line was downright pitiful, wheras his numbers against RHP were quite good - .281/.338/.505. In my opinion, the team needs to do what is right and platoon Jenkins, at the very least against the most difficult LHP of the league. My proposed line-up would look something like this:

2005 Proposed Line-up vs. LHP (applicable 2004 numbers in parentheses)
1. Clark - CF (.250/.368/.326, 15 BB, 1 HR)
2. Spivey - 2B (.279/.426/.558, 10 BB, 3 HR)
3. Overbay - 1B (.298/.357/.523, 13 BB, 5 HR)
4. Lee - LF (.308/.385/.551, 19 BB, 10 HR)
5. Helms - 3B (.306/.398/.444, 11 BB, 1 HR)
6. Branyan - RF (career 195 AB- .236/.305/.523, 17 BB, 15 HR)
7. Miller - C (.290/.358/.387, 12 BB, 2 HR)
8. Hardy - SS (full AAA stats, 101 AB, .277/.330/.495, 9 BB, 4 HR)
9. Pitcher

Granted, one-season splits are essentially useless, but most of the players produced at about their career average in 2004, and Branyan had only 30 AB, thus the inclusion of his career #'s vs. LHP. I could not find Hardy's split stats from Indianapolis, so his full stats will have to do, regardless he is hitting 8th so it's not a major issue.

Now, back to Jenkins. For his career has put up a shoddy line vs. LHP: .256/.313/.424, 25 HR, 40 BB in 746 AB's. The simple black and white truth is that Jenkins cannot hit lefties. Yet, for some reason (the aforementioned $8 million salary?), the Brewers seem to not care. What they essentially have in the 5 spot in the order against southpaws is a blackhole from which virtually zero run production will come. There is absolutley ZERO reasons for Jenkins to start vs. LHP - the question is not even debatable. Platooning in general has become a lost art, even as the rest of the game has become overspecialized. What happened to the days of a Matt Stairs, who would just crush RHP, then take the day off against lefties? I think we need a return to those days again. The platoon is a cheap, effective way to get solid production out of two marginal players becoming one. This seems to be an attractive option for any team, particularly a small-market one like the Brewers.

Notes:
My line-up vs. RHP would not include Helms. Branyan would be the everyday 3B, but would move to the OF in place of Jenkins, with Helms sliding in at 3B. The batting order would be unchanged, aside from the substitution of Helms in Jenkins' 5th spot. Helms has consistently raked LHP, with career numbers of .253/.338/.470, 13 HR, 37 BB in 296 AB - much better than Jenkins. Many Brewer fans hate Wes Helms, but no one can objectively look at this situation and say that Jenkins is the better hitter against southpaws.

Now, on to some other tidbits in the rest of the article. There is one real dandy comment by Yost in regards to Jenks. Yost says the following: "In my mind, Jenkins is a Jim Edmonds-type hitter when he gets going. I think he's a real force." This has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. Jenkins=Edmonds? I doubt it:

Edmonds' Career (5090 AB): .294/.384/.544, 734 BB, 302 HR
Jenkins' Career (2965 AB): .279/.344/.507, 250 BB, 149 HR

Edmonds is across the board a better player than Jenkins, as evidenced by his 25 point advantage in AVG, and roughly 40 point advanatages in both OBP and SLG. Edmonds lowest OPS over the past three seasons is .981, while Jenkins has posted a high of .913, which is his only OPS over .800 in this time frame. Also, Edmonds BB total last year (101) is about the same as Jenkins over the past two years combined (104). So, Yost was pretty much dead-wrong about Jenkins/Edmonds. They pretty much have absolutely nothing in common.

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