For those of you who read this, and don’t know what OPS+ is, here is the definition from Hardball Times:“OPS measured against the league average, and adjusted for ballpark factors. An OPS+ over 100 is better than average, less than 100 is below average.”
Basically, it’s On Base Percentage combined with Slugging Percentage, adjusted to ballpark quirks. It’s a very, very solid method used to value a hitter’s overall offensive contributions–especially for hitters in the middle of a batting order.
The OPS+ statistics I’m going to use for all of these men are based on their last complete season played.
Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi have most likely seen their last days in pinstripes. Giambi definitely, Abreu most likely, unless he’s willing to accept a one or two-year contract. When these two players leave the Yankee organization, that’s going to take away a lot of production. A good way to measure any player’s production, is OPS+. Last season, Giambi and Abreu combined for a OPS+ of 255
There are three different scenarios I see happening here, as an effective way to replace this production. Two are plausible, one is improbable but possible
Plausible Combination Number One: Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui are a combined OPS+ of 267.
Plausible Combination Number Two: Manny Ramirez and Hideki Matsui are a combined OPS+ of 277
Improbable Combination: Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira are a combined OPS+ of 307
As you see, all three possibilities are actually an improvement over Giambi and Abreu.
Yes, I have taken into consideration that Manny Ramirez is aging, and that Hideki Matsui is coming off of knee surgery. But Jason Giambi is older than both Manny and Matsui, and Abreu is slightly older than Matsui. Jason Giambi is also the most injury-prone player out of all of them. Any combination of Matsui, Teixeira and Ramirez is an improvement in age, health and production over the combination of Abreu and Giambi.
With that said, I would much rather have Teixiera over Manny, for the simple fact that he’s younger and plays a dynamite 1st base. But I would gladly take Manny Ramirez as the Yankee DH if Teixeira wasn’t available.
I know a lot of people do not want Manny, because of his past problems with the Red Sox and his age. But If it came down to giving either Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu or Jason Giambi a three-year contract, who would you choose? I think the logical answer is Manny Ramirez. By the looks of his 2008 season, he isn’t slowing down much at all; as a matter of fact, his regular-season OPS+ of 164 is nine points above career average. I know, I know, all this jazz about Manny playing for his next contract could be true. But the thing to consider is that Ramirez grew up a Yankee fan, and had a vendetta against the Red Sox. When Ramirez is living a dream and out to prove something, he produces at a rate not even Albert Pujols can match.
I know there are holes in this plan, just as there are holes in any plans laid, but this is the best I could come up with. If you have any better ideas than what I have come up with, I’d love to hear them. I’m sure someon has a better idea than this.