Could Corey Patterson Be Useful?

When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Corey Patterson earlier this offseason, it was thought of as little more than a Minor League depth addition.  The speedy outfielder who never lived up to expectations as the third overall pick in the 1998 amateur draft has spent time in five different organizations since 2008, all while inspiring healthy doses of hilarious derision from Walkoff Walk.

However, after the Vernon Wells trade, the Blue Jays suddenly find themselves with a gap to fill in center field.  Assuming that Jose Bautista plays third base to at least begin the season, the Jays only have three outfielders on the active roster with Major League experience: Rajai Davis, Juan Rivera and Travis Snider.  Despite some bad defensive numbers last season, it’s expected that Davis would play center, with Rivera and Snider positioning themselves in the corner spots.

Unfortunately for Toronto, Davis doesn’t exactly frighten right handed pitchers unless they’re terrified of gaining confidence.

Last season:

412 PA, 3.9 BB%, 16.8 K%, .309 OBP, .357 SLG, .080 ISO, .295 wOBA.

Career:

941 PA, 4.9 BB%, 17.6 K%, .321 OBP, .375 SLG, .098 ISO, .308 wOBA.

In comparison, Patterson, a left handed batter who is probably more at home in one of the corner outfield spots, but can still play center, looks like this against right handed pitching.

Last season:

253 PA, 6.7 BB%, 22.9 K%, .341 OBP, .449 SLG, .159 ISO, .344 wOBA.

Career:

2900 PA, 5.1 BB%, 21.8 K%, .303 OBP, .422 SLG, .160 ISO, .311 wOBA.

Looking only at Patterson’s 2010 numbers, Blue Jays fans could be forgiven for being somewhat enthused at the prospect of turning metal from the Minor League contract scrap heap into a useful vehicle, but I think you have to look past the 253 plate appearances toward the 2900 throughout his career if you’re interested in a better indicator of future performance. Patterson’s .349 BABIP against RHP last season contributes more than a little to his modest success last season.

The former Cubs draft pick would contribute little more than a small increase in power over Davis while giving up both defense and speed to his potential platoon mate. Considering how the Blue Jays lineup hit last season, power numbers may be the one area in which Toronto can afford to give something up.

The Blue Jays under Alex Anthopoulos have been stealthy with their deals, and so there’s no way to know if they’re looking at making further additions, but if the team were to start the season with the roster they have right now, three regular outfielders in Davis, Rivera and Snider would be my choice as the way to go.

Another interesting option is Darin Mastroianni who can cover a lot of ground in center field and act as a back up second baseman, but the right handed hitter has never played above Double A, where, over the last two seasons, he’s gotten on base more than 38% of the time.  He’s never going to win a home run derby and he hits better against lefties, but Mastroianni has proven himself to be no slouch against right handed pitching.  Last season, again at Double A, the 25 year old had an OBP of .381 in 454 plate appearances against righties.

Comments (11)

  1. You know, I’d actually be a lot happier with a platoon of Patterson and Mastroianni in the outfield in place of Juan Rivera. I don’t even care how stupid that is.

  2. Looking at the lineup right now I think Patterson would make a decent fourth outfielder, but I wouldn’t want him getting regular playing time.

    I remember reading somewhere recently that the Jays’ front office think Mastroianni can be their Brett Gardner. Looking at his minor-league numbers, they might have something there. I still think he’ll spend most of the year at AAA unless he has a great spring.

  3. It’s not as easy as throwing two sets of platoon splits together, it just doesn’t work that way. I’m not very good at explaining, but read The Book if you really want to know why. You’ve gotta regress those numbers (especially for Patterson) and at that point I’d probably rather Davis’ glove/speed/modest upside (think 2009) than anything Patterson is capable of.

  4. Did you even read what I wrote, or just look at the splits I set up?

  5. Loved the “unless they’re terrified of gaining confidence” line. Kudos.

  6. I could go around this like a Whirlpool stuck on spin cycle. Instead I’m gonna try to simplify. Snider is in left every day. EVERY DAY..
    Maybe the best defensive RF in the league, per the Jays manager, is pencilled in at 3rd. How stupid is that? Bautista plays in right every day. EVERY DAY. I don’t care if AA has tot ake a second job selling ouzo on the Danforthto pay for it, just go get a big league 3rd baseman, he doesn’t have to be a star. Or start Lawrie. Or even start EE now that he is healthy. Leave Jose alone. Let him save a ton of runs with his arm, he wants to play there for all the right reasons. He knows that he helps his team win out there. He is all about winning, so management better be too, on this one.
    I like Patterson off the bench. I like Davis off the bench even more. I like Rivera bought out or traded.
    I really like the idea of letting Darin Mastroianni getting to more balls than Davis and Patterson put together,an OBP that should shame both of them, and as good or better a base thief than Davis.
    2012 is the prize. 2011 is a year to roll the dice, see what we have.
    Darin Mastroianni is 25 going into the season with upside. Davis and Patterson, though interesting bench pieces, they are who they are. And that isn’t big league starters.

  7. Interesting article Parkes, good work.

    The Gardiner/Mastroainni comparison I like.

    Also: Anthopolous continues the Ricciardi trend of creating good competition in ST between vets/young players. Catalanotto, Bordick, Downs, Myers etc are examples of guys brought in basically because no one else wanted them, ended up being productive in a Jays uniform.

  8. I found some good ones here as well.

  9. My opinions may possibly have changed, but not the truth that I’m appropriate.

  10. I’ll be back as you update.

  11. Thanks for fantastic information, this is incredibly helpfull to me. I will rear next week to find out something totally new.

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