Please, no more Marcus Thames in LF
Here’s a bit I wrote a few weeks ago with regards to Marcus Thames:
This season, as a left fielder, the 33-year old is projected to be 11 runs below average over 150 defensive games. He would cost a win, essentially. Of course, in a platoon with Brett Gardner, Thames’ time in the field would be limited, making for a much more manageable situation. However, would any lapse in defense between Thames and Gardner be worth Thames’ bat? What if the offensive upside of a platoon is marginal (this is very likely given the sporadic playing time for a right-handed platoon-mate)? I think a soft platoon might be worthwhile, with Thames seeing time against the Jon Lesters and Cliff Lees of the American League, however, beyond that, I am somewhat skeptical that a strict platoon would be beneficial for the Yankees (or beneficial to the point where the defensive gap is made up).
I think, at this point, it is safe to say that, with regards to offensive production, the platoon has worked out extremely well for the Yankees. Brett Gardner is currently hitting .340/.436/.404, while Marcus Thames is battering left-handed pitchers to the tune of a .500/.563/.857 line. Basically, the Yankees are receiving stellar bat work from left field.
However, with that said, defensively, the platoon has been an noticeable problem, as Thames seems to allow more runs than he actually produces. For instance, in yesterday’s game, Thames’ poor reaction to a sinking liner from Brandon Wood cost the Yankees a pair of runs and, once he gathered the ball, his ensuing overthrow to the Yankee infield also ended up represented on the scoreboard (the throw allowed a runner to move to third, and that runner subsequently scored). This is but a lone example, however, it has been drawn from a pool of instances where Thames has botched plays that Gardner would have made had he been in the outfield. Of course, Thames cannot be blamed for this. He simply plays where he is told to play. I wonder when Joe Girardi will realize that Gardner, even against a good southpaw, is likely saving more runs for the Yankees with his glove than Thames will produce with his bat.
I think it’s time to award Gardner with the everyday keys to left field and relegate Thames to pinch-hitting.
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