Rounding out the start position players, we’ve now come to right field. Unlike the other two outfield spots, where we can’t be yet confident in total production, Cody Ross has proven that he is who he is. And next year likely isn’t going to be any different.
Starter: Cody Ross
Bench: Brett Carroll
Cody Ross had been relegated to a platoon role his first two and the start of third season as a Marlin. In late May of ’08, he claimed the starting CF gig with strong performances and continued that production to the end of the season, finishing with a 3.8 WAR. ’09 saw him starting the entire year, and while he kept the same basic offense (.345 wOBA to .342 wOBA), he saw a massive drop in defense (+14.1 positional defense to -8.2) which dropped his WAR to just 1.9.
Cody Ross will start the year in RF and should continue to stay there. While his UZR paints a decent picture as a corner outfield (+3.4/150 in his career), other metric paint a better picture. His unweighted average between UZR, Plus/Minus, and TotalZone paints him as a +10.02 fielder in 150 games. Considering his unweighted average in CF has him at +0.03, and his UZR there has him at -0.1, and the positional adjustment is slightly less than 10 runs per 150 games, I believe it’s fair to call him +0 in CF and +10 in a corner. His defense was also well regarded by scouts both while he was a prospect and present day. However, the fact remains he was bad last season and a weighted projection Michael did earlier this offseason calls for him to be just a +1.8 runs defensively. With how big of a gap there is between the two, it will most certainly be something to monitor next season.
Offensively, with Cody Ross finally facing the proper amount of RHP he saw a drop in both power and walks, though he mostly made up for it by upping his BABIP and lowering his strike outs. Considering how much he still hacks and the fact he does not display an above average BABIP skill set, both of those should go back down towards his career rate. But his power and walks likely will stay static from last season due to his increased usage against RHP. My .341 wOBA prediction for him is the most pessimistic one I’ve seen for him, but that still has him as an above average hitter.
Projection: 600 PA, about 2.5 WAR.
That’s while being a +6 defender. Going higher towards 10 pushes him towards 3 WAR, while going lower towards average pushes him towards a 2 WAR. I’ll draw the line in the middle and ask for a 2.5 WAR.
The biggest problem is Cody’s big split. So far in his career he has shown he can absolutely mash left handed pitching but that he’s a below average hitter against RHP. If we assume his split continues, that would put him at just a .319 wOBA next season v.s. RHP. As a +6 defender, that would make him worth just 1.0 WAR in the ~114 games against RHP while the average player would be worth about 1.5 WAR. The Marlins currently have no better options than Cody for RHP, and he’s still far, far from an embarrassment. And he more than makes up for it against RHP, makes his production as a whole at worst average.
However, it’s also a small sample size. Going by the article here on estimating a hitter’s platoon split, our estimated split for Cody is 8.1% compared to his career 16.5% split. Based off his .341 wOBA projection, we get a wOBA against RHP of .330 and a 1.44 WAR which would put him right on average.
Quick fun fact: Cody Ross has been traded three times, two of those times for another player. Both of those players (Steve Colyer and Ben Kozlowski) were pitchers and amassed a total of just 65.3 MLB innings before being out of baseball by 2008. Hopefully we do not suffer the same fate if/when we trade Cody.