Luke Scott has almost brought as much bravado to the Rays this season as he has with offensive power. He has filled the void of a home-run hitting DH that was missing on last year’s roster, and brought a whole lot of character as well. Scott was drafted by the Indians in the 9th round of the 2001 draft (after not signed as a Devil Rays 45th round pick in 2000), although he had Tommy John surgery and missed his first full season. He was eventually traded to the Astros, and made his major league debut at the age of 27. The Rays signed him to play DH after playing in the outfield for four seasons with the Orioles.
Scott strikes out a lot, doesn’t have any speed, and is not a good fielder; but boy, can he hit a ball a long way. He has averaged a home run about every 19 plate appearances in the minors and majors. His best season came in 2010 when he hit 27 home runs in only 131 games. In 2008 and 2010 he was 1st and 2nd in the AL in No Doubt homeruns. From 2008 to 2011, his homeruns traveled an average of 405 feet, further than Carlos Pena’s average.
Like many power hitters, Scott strikes out around 20% of his plate appearances, and has walked over 10% of the time every year of his career. His OBP last season was a disturbingly low .301. He has followed this pattern with a .304 OBP this season, thanks to 5.9 BB%. He is swinging at a lot more pitches this season than his career average. He is also swinging at 32.8% of pitches outside of the strike zone, much higher than his 26.8% career average; he is making much better contact on those pitches compared to his career average though.
Luke Scott is on pace to hit 35 home runs this season, assuming he can stay healthy. He is batting .247 – below his .263 career average – but his BABIP is only .239. Scott has played more than 132 games in a season only once, and last year played in 64 due to shoulder surgery. If he can stay at DH all season, his chancing of playing a full season are strong. However, if he continues to hit .125 against lefties, he may see his playing time limited to a platoon. Scott is prone to streaks, so Rays’ fans will have to take stretches of 0-4 games in order to enjoy his majestic bombs.
Scott is known as a brash, old school player who is not afraid to speak his mind. Last year he was very vocal in speaking his mind about President Obama’s birth certificate. Earlier this season he called Fenway park a dump and Red Sox fans ruthless and vulgar. Maybe it’s his Wolverine mutton chops, or the fact that he has two first names, but Luke Scott is a very likeable player – if he is on your team. He reminds me of Jonny Gomes, who was not afraid to back up his teammates, was a great cheerleader, and could hit the ball a long way. As long as Scott can continue to hit – and keep the fans entertained – then he will be a valuable asset for the Rays this year.