Tampa Bay Rays: 1B platoon projects to hit 30 home runs

Ji-Man Choi (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Ji-Man Choi (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays have options when it comes to lineup construction in 2020. We take a look at one potential platoon at first base.

We will take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays POTENTIAL platoon at first of Jose Martinez and Ji-Man Choi. There are a lot of variables and it’s not set in stone that these two will be the primary options there. The point is, the Rays have a lot of great options and we’ll merely look at one possibility.

Nate Lowe could end up being a factor, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo may not be a fit at third or in the outfield and could end up finding himself at first. Yandy Diaz might find himself splitting time with Ji-Man Choi again. It all depends on how things shake out during the spring.

For the sake of this article, we’ll take a look at what a platoon between Ji-Man Choi and the newly acquired Jose Martinez might look like.

Whether this ends up being the platoon or not, it is a small demonstration of the platoon-ready firepower the Rays have stocked their arsenal with. They may not have many flashy names that will single-handedly challenge 30 homers and 100 RBI, but the production from their platoon usage has a chance to be very good.

I’ll get into the numbers in a bit, but Martinez should find a way into the lineup on most days as he hits well against both right and left-handed pitchers.

Ji-Man Choi

Ji-Man Choi is not allowed to hit against left-handers. He has a career slash against LHP of .185/.288/.296.

On the flipside, Choi has been a righty killer throughout his career with a .258/.358/.486 slash and a home run every 18.75 at-bats with a run batted in every six at-bats.

Last season he was even better against right-handed pitching with a .277/.394/.492 slash and in his limited chances against lefties he was in line with his terrible career numbers.

Based on his career homer and RBI per at-bat rates, if Choi gets 400 at-bats against righties then we are looking at a 21 home runs, 67 RBI season out of the first baseman.

Jose Martinez

Jose Martinez is a player that hits both righties and lefties well. He has a career .288/.350/.426 slash against right-handed pitching. He is out of this world against lefties with a .331/.405/.570. The DH should allow the Kevin Cash to get Martinez’s bat in the lineup more often than now. He could certainly provide relief at first for Choi on days the Rays face a right-handed starter. That is assuming they trust his glove enough.

Let’s say he picks up 150 at-bats filling in for Choi at first. Based on his career ratios against lefties, he’d add an additional nine home runs and 46 RBI.

Should the platoon end up being Choi and Martinez at first base, the production from those two projects to be a .300 average, 30 homers, and 113 RBI over 550 at-bats at from first base.

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Our platoons are very good at doing the splits! What do you think the best combination of players will be at first this season?