Ever since the signing of Garrett Jones to be the primary first baseman there has been an ongoing discourse in the Marlins blogosphere regarding the need for a platoon partner. Jones has a well chronicled history of failure when facing left handed pitching. Our own Daniel Z did an outstanding job of breaking down the issue and some of the proposed solutions just today. The Marlins appear to be looking outside of the organization to address the issue with the signings of veteran right handed hitters Reed Johnson and Ty Wigginton over the last week.
For some reason, however, nobody seems to mention the lefty masher the Marlins already have on the roster as a possible solution to the problem. Ed Lucas hit a robust .330/.374/.509 against lefties last season, good enough for a .381 wOBA and 143 wRC+. That wOBA and wRC+ ranked in the top 20 in the National League for batters with at least 100 plate appearances versus LHP.
Lucas was a rookie last season and did his damage in just 116 plate appearances, so I can understand that there is concern that the performance could be nothing more than a small sample size fluke. This concern prompted me to take a look at how he fared against left handers in previous seasons. Lucas is a 10 year minor league veteran so there is a long track record, but I concentrated on the last 5 seasons which were all spent in AAA and the majors. Here are the promising results:
|5 Year Total||699||.325||.383||.567||.242||30||41.2%||9.0%||13.9%|
In what is roughly a full season worth of plate appearances in the majors and the top levels of the minor leagues, Ed Lucas hit like an MVP. Considering he is not known as a power hitter, he quite impressively had a .500+ slugging percentage in 4 of 5 seasons with 3 seasons of .200+ ISO. Consistently low K%’s coupled with the elevated slugging shows that he has had no trouble making hard contact, though a declining BB% is a bit concerning.
As an added plus, defensive metrics showed Lucas played an above average third base last season along with positive values in limited time at first, second, shortstop and the outfield. Adding him to the lineup at third and sliding Casey McGehee over to first against lefties might also provide a boost to the defense.
It’s clear to me that Lucas possesses the skills the Marlins seem to be searching for this offseason – a lefty masher with defensive versatility. After many seasons in the minors, Lucas was given a chance to prove himself in 2013 and against left-handed pitching, I think he did just that. Hopefully, the Fish realize what they have in Lucas this spring and give Easy Ed a chance to be the much needed platoon partner against southpaws.