Last night, Matt Joyce homered off a southpaw for the second time this season.
Those two home runs came in the span of just 12 at bats against port-siders and followed a mutli-hit game against yesterday’s left-handed starter (Joyce’s second career multi-hit game against a LHP, first since he came over from Detroit).
Joyce’s bomb didn’t come off just any lefty. It came off CJ Wilson, who had not allowed a home run by a left-handed hitter in three years and, based on his career splits below, is not a “reverse split lefty.”
|vs RHB as LHP||281||1730||1511||200||388||86||4||36||1||2||187||326||1.74||.257||.344||.390||.734||590||49||17||7||8||7||20||.304||116|
|vs LHB as LHP||265||690||602||70||111||17||2||9||0||1||62||180||2.90||.184||.276||.264||.540||159||17||16||4||6||1||10||.243||60|
So, Joyce made the obvious point when asked if he is ready to play everyday: “I don’t know what else you’ve got to do.”
Neither do I, and maybe Joe Maddon agrees. Joe was typically tongue-in-cheek when asked if Joyce was now the Rays’ everyday rightfielder, saying that Joyce has earned the right to play “a little more often” against left-handed pitching. But, his presence in the lineup the last two nights speaks volumes even if Maddon’s deliberate approach is driving everyone nuts.
I presume, Maddon isn’t committing to Joyce in an effort to protect him psychology. Joe has to know that Matt Joyce, while a good hitter, is not going to win the AL batting title. He is certainly an improved hitter ( including a newfound command of the strike zone) but his BABIP is over .400, showing that he is getting some good luck hitting balls, you know, where fielders ain’t. If Joyce starts to struggle against lefties, Joe knows he’ll have to go back to the platoon and, if he publicly commits to Joyce as an everyday player now, the move back to the platoon will look like a demotion, something that might be difficult on the psyche of a young Joyce.
Either way, an everyday Matt Joyce is good for this club. It gives Joe more options to solve the Rays’ offensive problems elsewhere because it takes one position off the plate of the Zorilla. (may we see, perhaps, an outfield of Zobrist, Upton and Joyce?)