The Danny Valencia trade is looking like a good one right now as David Lough struggles along in Baltimore while Valencia is on the cusp of becoming the every day third baseman for the Royals. Valencia has had only one season as a regular player back in 2011, and since then he has mostly been relegated to hitting lefties because he crushes them. Can he hold down the fort at third while facing right handed pitching most of the time as last night indicated he might be asked to do?
Here are Danny’s numbers against right handed pitchers year by year:
I think we can safely ignore the numbers so far this year since it is only 22 plate appearances. Over his career that puts Valencia as a below average hitter against righties, but not a horrible hitter. His ability to crush south paws made it look like a perfect platoon situation as in his career he has taken opposite handed pitchers for a .329/.365/.512 ride. The problem is that Mike Moustakas can’t hold up the other end of the platoon. Moose, in his career, has hit .243/.295/.398 against opposite handed pitching which is only marginally better than Valencia who is facing same handedness against righties. This year even with the platoon advantage Moose is only hitting .161/.220/.348, which is significantly worse than Valencia should be expected to do.
So far this season in all of major league baseball 36.8% of ABs have come against left handed pitching and last year it was 40.4%, so if Valencia faces somewhere around 40% lefties his overall weighted numbers for his career would end up around .289/.327/.451 which would be quite respectable. This might be modified slightly by him taking rests presumably against right handed starters, but facing a right handed reliever more times late in games as the opposition tries to use his platoon splits against him. A league average third baseman so far this year has slashed .243/.310/.384, so he might even be better than most although those averages would come up without Moustakas in the sample. Valencia is also a slightly below average fielder, but by no means a huge liability defensively though will be a downgrade from Moose.
I fully support giving more playing time to Danny Valencia, which should not be a surprise. A league average player at 3B would be a huge upgrade and maybe give Moose some time in the minors to get right. Let’s hope that this can be a help to the struggling offense and get an extended look at third.