Trade analysis: Joyce for Jacksonby Victor Wang
December 11, 2008
With a lot of big signings and trades the past few days, the Tigers and Rays quietly made an interesting trade. The Tigers attempted to improve their rotation by obtaining Edwin Jackson while the Rays got themselves a right fielder by acquiring Matt Joyce. Jackson had a decent year last year on the surface, winning 14 games while putting up a so-so ERA. Joyce surprised many with his power after he was called up, putting up an impressive isolated power of .240. What is the fantasy outlook for these two guys for next year?
Analysis: Edwin Jackson
YEAR AGE TEAM IP ERA xFIP TRA* K/G BB/G GB% BABIP HR/FB% 2006 22TB 36.3 5.45 5.5 5.11 6 5.5 52.1 0.346 6.3 2007 23TB 161 5.76 5.02 5.66 6.6 4.5 45.1 0.351 11.1 2008 24TB 183.3 4.42 5.16 5.51 5.3 3.7 39.1 0.301 10.8
You can see that despite those 14 wins last year, Jackson does not have that great a skill set. While he has been making progress with his walk rate, his strikeout rate took a big dip last year as well. That didn't harm him last year pitching in front of an improved Tampa Bay defense. We'll talk more about Detroit's defense a little later. xFIP and TRA* are not big fans of him, which can be expected from a pitcher with a poor skill set. Another concern is Jackson's declining groundball rate. Jackson also got lucky with his strand rate of 76.1 percent; expect that to regress.
Jackson has also seen his fastball velocity decrease his last three years. Without a great secondary pitch, this can partially explain his decrease in his strikeout rate. Jackson is going to either have to improve his secondary pitches, pick up a new one, or have another big drop off in his walk rate to make any gains in his skill set.
Last year, Detroit had one of the worst fielding teams in the league while Tampa Bay had one of the best. With Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez slated to play the corners next year, it would be best for Jackson to try and get his groundball rate back up. The Tiger's infield defense should be improved with the addition of Adam Everett, assuming he's healthy, and Brandon Inge now playing third base full time. Detroit probably won't have as bad a defense as they did last year but Jackson is still downgrading defensively by going to Detroit.
Given his mediocre skill set and worsened defense, I would try and avoid Jackson next year. Best case he lucks out a league average ERA, worst case he blows up. There should be much better options available in your league. And if Jackson is the best starter left at your draft or auction, ignore hime, take a highly skilled reliever, and wait to pick up or trade for a starter.
Analysis: Matt Joyce
YEAR AGE TEAM PA CT% UBB% ISO GB% FB% LD% SB/CS HR/FB% 2008 23DET 277 76.5 11.2 0.24 35.2 35.2 18.40/2 14.3
Joyce showed some pretty good power skills, with a good flyball rate and very good .240 isolated power. The power looks legitimate as he hit only one just enough home run. While he hit only one no doubt home run, the rest of his homers were in the plenty category. Also, Baseball America reported that Joyce has "the power to hit 20-25 home runs annually."
Despite the power, Joyce will struggle to hit for a good average unless he improves his contact rate. He was also platooned in Detroit, reflecting his struggles with lefties in the past. Despite having the speed to play center, Joyce has never had high base stealing totals in the minors and you should not expect many from him now.
As of now, Joyce should be Tampa Bay's starting right fielder. However, their is a chance he gets platooned with someone like Jonny Gomes. While Joyce did have a solid debut, we only have 277 plate appearances of major league data on Joyce. And despite performing well in the minors in 2008, he didn't really do anything that impressive his previous two years.
Given the uncertainty around Joyce's projection, I would say to only pick him up as a late round pick or $1 gamble. There are going to be a ton of safer outfielders available to take. Best case Joyce hits something like .275 with 25 home runs, worst case he kills your batting average.
Victor Wang's work on OPS has been featured in SABR's By the Numbers magazine, and was the 2007 recipient of SABR's Jack Kavanagh Memorial Youth Baseball Research Award. He can be reached via email here.
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