A couple of seasons ago, the Marlins Franchise seemed so deep in first base depth that they decided to move one of their top hitting prospects to left field, just to get his bat into the starting lineup. That prospect was Logan Morrison.
After enduring a couple of tough and injury filled seasons with LoMo, the Marlins finally decided to move on from their once promising, young prospect. They did so without ever getting much from the player they once held in a very high regard.
Instead, the Marlins signed former Pirates first baseman, Garrett Jones, to a 2-year contract, to be their new every day first baseman. The main reason for the Marlins choosing Jones over Morrison for the upcoming season came down to one thing, consistency. Jones has hit 20 or more home runs in three of his previous five seasons. He has hit at least 15 home runs every season since 2009.
The the team seems committed to Jones being the every day first baseman, despite his weak platoon numbers against lefties for his career.
This is what co-editor Chris Logel wrote of Jones in his first base season preview a month ago:
To say that Jones struggles against left-handed pitching would be a gross understatement. last year he hit .095 against LHP and posted a slugging percentage of .143. He didn’t fare much better against right-handed pitching either, posting an OBP of .295. Pittsburgh used him almost exclusively in a platoon situation, sitting him when they faced a left-handed pitcher.
For Jones to be successful with the Marlins, manager Mike Redmond will need to employ his services much the same way. In a best case scenario, Jones will post numbers closer to his career averages against RHP, and utilize spacious Marlins Park to shoot doubles into gaps. Jones should hover around 15 home runs on the year.
Despite the evidence pointing the other way, the Marlins seem content on running Jones out there on an every day basis, even against left-handed pitching. This dampens our best case scenario for Jones over the course of the season, as he is unlikely to have much success against lefties.
In over 2,000 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Jones owns a .271/.337/.480 slash line with a wOBA of .355. If Jones is going to have a successful hitting campaign with the Marlins, the team will need to protect him, like other teams have in the past, against lefties. Jones has only had 526 career plate appearances against lefties in his career.
The best case scenario for Jones would likely be the projection that the ZiPS projection gives him for the 2014 season:
Even the most optimistic projection for Jones for the 2014 season does not seem that rosy. The sad part, of course, is that even this season would be a major improvement over the production the Marlins got from Logan Morrison and others at first base last season.
The Marlins will likely need the platoon of Jones and newly signed Jeff Baker for them to get the most they can out of first base. Tune in later to see the worst case scenario and the season projection for Garret Jones.