Laynce Nix is a 31-year-old journeyman outfielder who in his life has never received a major league contract. So, of course, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. just signed him to a 2-year deal.
But that’s not what has me worked up this morning. What has me worked up is something that Philadelphia Daily News beat writer David Murphy wrote about the signing. Murphy anticipates the Phillies will platoon Nix and recent acquisition Ty Wigginton at first base.
Here’s what Wigginton and Nix did last season:
Wigginton vs. LHP in 2011: 127 PA, 108 AB, 28 H, 3 2B, 5 HR, 17 BB, 2 HBP, 25 SO
Nix vs. RHP in 2011: 320 PA, 297 AB, 78 H, 13 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 19 BB, 1 HBP, 71 SO
And here’s what Murphy says we can expect from them in 2012:
Combine the 2011 platoon splits of the two players and the result is a .262/.324/.462 line with 21 home runs and 96 strikeouts in 447 plate appearances.
Although that still presents a drop-off from Howard’s production, it is not as steep as you might think. In 644 plate appearances in 2011, Howard hit .253/.346/.488 with 33 home runs and 172 strikeouts. Extend the Nix/Wigginton production over 644 plate appearances and they finish with 30 home runs and 138 strikeouts. So you would actually get better contact and roughly equivalent power at the expense 13 fewer times reaching base.
This is the part where I remind you that the Phillies signed Howard to a six-year, $135 million contract extension in 2010, despite the fact that he was already in decline and already under contract through 2011. But hey, it’s not like players of Howard’s caliber grow on trees. It’s not like you can just go out and assemble a platoon of crappy roll players and replace Howard’s production for a fraction of the cost.
Oh wait. I guess you can.