Last year, behind the efforts of Carlos Pena, the Rays managed a measly .683 OPS from their first basemen. Granted, that is not park adjusted. However, adjusting it for the park only bumps it to a .719 OPS. Last season, the AL combined for a .731 OPS. So from an offensive minded position, the Rays received below league average production.
This season, the Rays have handed the first base position to James Loney. When a first baseman is better regarded for his glove than his bat, there is normally an issue. Loney, in his career, has a 103 wRC+; last year, it was 70. First base is a position from which teams expect offensive production, yet the Rays appear to be in line for league average offensive production. Any way in which the Rays can maximize their offensive output from the position, in my opinion, is an option worth exploring. One of these routes is a platoon at first base.
The Oakland Athletics received a .801 OPS from first base last year through effective platoons. For his career, Loney possesses a 111 wRC+ against RHP while only a 77 wRC+ against LHP. According to Whelk's regressed splits tool (bookmark it if you have not already), Loney has a regressed split of .13419. For comparison's sake, Joyce has a regressed split of .18896.
Bill James projects Loney to have a .319 wOBA this year. Plugging that into Whelk's tool, we can see that Loney should be projected to have a .330 wOBA against RHP and a .287 wOBA against LHP, a figure far below average. While a .330 wOBA against right handed pitching is not a gaudy number, it is solid enough when combined with his plus defense. On the other hand, his .287 wOBA puts him in below replacement level range, something the Rays can ill-afford or hide with their solid rather than spectacular offense.
Tampa Bay: Platooning at First Base
D-Rays Bay | Jan 28