Player A: .293 BA .356 OBP .757 OPS
Player B: .251 BA .306 OBP .704 OPS
Who do you want starting in center field for your team?
Player A: -5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) .915 Revised Zone Rating (RZR) -11 Outfield Arm Runs Saved (rARM)
Player B: 33 DRS .944 RZR 6 rARM
All info via fangraphs.com
How about now?
If you didn’t figure it out from the title, Player A is Jon Jay, and Player B is the Cardinals’ new toy in the outfield, Peter Bourjos. Based on those stats, which you would prefer start probably depends on whether or not you want offense or defense from the centerfield position.
1. Start Bourjos, Jay becomes fourth OF
I am of the belief that given the lack of defense from the corner outfielders, it is more important to the Cardinals to have defense in CF. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig may possibly combine to be the worst defensive set of corner outfielders in baseball this year, but they may also be the best offensively. As an everyday player Bourjos is a potential Gold Glover in center field. The firepower of Holliday and Craig as well as Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, and Jhonny Peralta should more than make up for the drop in offense. Jay would easily become an above average bench player, and if Bourjos offense slips too far, could step in as the starter.
2. Start Jay, Bourjos is 4th OF
We’ve seen this before. If Jay is able to return to his form from 2010-2013 he will be a solid, .300 hitting center fielder. He won’t get any assists, or make many spectacular plays, but he will make all the simple plays, and hit a consistent .300. The Cardinals won a World Series with that in center, and were two victories away from another. So why change?
3. Platoon – Jay against RHP, Bourjos against LHP
This is the option that I can’t wrap my head around. I’m old school in the sense that I believe in a player getting into a rhythm playing every day. There is no stat to back this up, but there is something to be said about a player keeping his timing and momentum by being in the lineup on a daily basis. Not to mention that statistically, it wouldn’t even make sense to platoon them. While Jay’s little to begin with pop completely disappears against left handed pitching, he still hits for average and gets on base at a higher rate than Bourjos does against lefties (.269/.343 compared to .256/.301). Take your pick, Bourjos or Jay, but the platoon idea needs to be shot down.
So what will the Cardinals do come April? Should they stick with the solid, but not spectacular that has gotten the job done before? Or should they unleash their new toy, the one that will catch any fly ball hit from here to Cincinnati? Honestly, there is no wrong answer in this case. The rest of the Cardinals roster would make them World Series contenders if they had Shane Robinson patrolling center this year. My vote is to start Bourjos. There is an old adage that says it’s better to be great at one thing than mediocre at many. Jon Jay is a good center fielder, one that would start for a lot of teams in MLB, but there is nothing that he is GREAT at. The reason the Cardinals traded for Peter Bourjos is because he is GREAT defensively, possibly the best there is. I say let that greatness shine, but don’t hesitate to use your insurance policy.
It’s not crazy, it’s sports
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