Addressing Yankee trade rumors: Cody Ross

Along with Dan Haren, the Yankees have been linked to Cody Ross, among other players. Ross is a 29 year old outfielder on the Florida Marlins, who will be owed around $1.5mil the rest of the season, and is arbitration eligible after the season for the last time before he hits free agency. Why are the Yankees interested in him?

Cody Ross would be an ideal platoon partner with Curtis Granderson. Granderson has always struggled against lefties as he has a .268 wOBA in 786 compared to a .377 wOBA in 2384 PA against righties. Ross on the other hand has a .398 wOBA in 595 PA against lefties and a .317 wOBA in 1439 PA against righties. On the surface, they seem like a perfect platoon. I mean, their wOBA difference against LHP is 130 points while their difference in wOBA against RHP is 60 points. Bat Curtis and his .377 wOBA against righties, while you bat Cody Ross and his .398 wOBA against lefties.

Well, its’ not that easy.

In order to fully evaluate whether the Yankees should trade for Ross, you need to regress to the mean to find their true platoon skill. So here is what I did step-by-step:

1) Find the observed platoon split. To do this, subtract Granderson and Ross’s wOBA against lefties from their wOBA against righties. For Granderson it would be .377-.268 and for Ross it would be .398-.317. So Granderson’s observed performance is 30.8% (.109 difference/.358 total wOBA x 100). Ross’ observed performance  is 23.6%.

2) Regress to get an estimated platoon skill. The formula is (observed performance x PA against LHP + league average platoon split against LHP x 1000)/(PA against LHP x 1000). For Granderson it would be (.308 x 786 + .086 x 1000)/(1786). For the league league average platoon, I used the average from 2007-2009 that was used in the article I linked to above. So Granderson’s estimated platoon split is 18.4% and Ross’ platoon split is 9.8%

3) Now we must center the split. To do this I used the formula x = (1-Percentage of PA against LHP) x Estimated platoon split percentage. That gives you the percentage you discount against LHP. To figure out the percentage you discount against RHP the formula is y = Estimated platoon split – x. So Granderson’s split against LHP is -13.8% and 4.6% against RHP. Ross’ split against LHP is 6.9% and -2.9% against RHP.

4) Now we figure out how well each of them will hit against lefties/righties the rest of the season. To do this, I used their ZiPS projected wOBA for the rest of the season. Against lefties, Granderson is expected to have a .297 wOBA. I did that by subtracting .297 and his overall expected wOBA, which is .344. .297-.344 gives you -0.047. I divided that by .344 to get -.137 or 13.7%, which is just about his estimated platoon split against LHP (we found it to be 13.8%). Against RHP Granderson should have a .360 wOBA. Ross’ wOBA against LHP should be .369 and his wOBA should be .327.

As you can see, a platoon of Cody Ross and Curtis Granderson would be quite useful. There is a wOBA difference of 72 points(!) between Ross and Granderson when it comes to facing LHP. The same difference between the two for RHP is a less staggering 33 points. Ross is a solid fielder, so when he starts he can play a respectable left field while Bret Gardner patrols center.

The question remains though- is Cody Ross worth acquiring for 2010 and 2011? Obviously the lineup would improve with a platoon this year. But even with Granderson playing everyday the lineup is still really good. Any added advantage is nice, but not necessary with this lineup. They can stomach a game or two a week with Curtis playing against lefties. Sure in the postseason they could face Cliff Lee, David Price, Jon Lester, and/or Francisco Liriano, but Cody Ross isn’t coming free. Reports are stating the Marlins want a hefty return for Ross. While the idea of a platoon is intriguing, I wouldn’t give up anything more than a middling prospect that has no future with our big league club anyway. Moreover, Granderson will paid $8.25mil in 2011 and $10mil in 2012. That’s a lot of money to pay a platoon player. Besides, even though Granderson has been in an extended slump, he hits well enough against righties and has a good enough glove that he deserves to be an everyday player.

If the Yankees trade for Ross, I’ll be content, but I wouldn’t make it a priority.

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One Comment on “Addressing Yankee trade rumors: Cody Ross”

  1. brad rabern Says:

    I think Lance Berkman could be had much cheaper (in terms of prospects) and be just as effective in the Yankee line up.

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