In 2009, with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft, the Yankees – or should I say the Nationals – ultimately chose Jamie Hoffmann, a well-regarded defensive outfielder from the Dodgers organization. Prior to that pick, though, it was rumored by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo that the Yankees could acquire touted outfield prospect, John Raynor, from the Marlins. The Yankees, of course, did not pick Raynor, opting for Hoffman instead and, with this post, I ask, “Why?”
Here are Jamie Hoffman’s career minor-league numbers via Baseball-Reference:
Comparing the two is a fairly straightforward exercise. With regards to Hoffmann-over-Raynor, Hoffmann, at 25, is about eight months younger than Raynor. More substantively, however, Hoffmann’s previous two seasons in Triple-A have been very good offensively whereas Raynor’s one season in Triple-A was an extremely weak campaign. Also, furthering Hoffmann’s cause, from what I can tell, he is a better defender than Raynor, although he does not appear to be significantly better based on scouting reports for both players as well as their respective TotalZone ratings. Thus is the case for choosing Hoffmann over Raynor. He’s a bit younger (it’s barely noteworthy), has had more success at an advanced level (Triple-A), and wields a better glove, yet Raynor’s glove is still pretty good.
Now, with regards to Raynor, who was selected second in the Rule 5 by the Pirates, though Hoffmann has had more recent offensive success, Raynor’s career numbers appear to be better than Hoffmann’s. He has more power – not much more, but more – and is a more patient hitter, although, he does strike out more than Hoffmann does by a considerable margin. Raynor’s stolen base success rate (83%), as compared to Hoffmann’s (68%), suggests that the former Marlin is a better base runner and a better base stealer, as well. In fact, he has been referred to as one of the fastest players in the minor leagues by Project Prospect. Raynor, in a sense, is similar to Hoffmann in that their tools are comparable, however, if one were to select Raynor over Hoffmann, they would basically argue that he is a more well-rounded hitter – despite the poor showing in New Orleans – and is a better runner.
When considering the aforementioned pros and cons for both players, it could be a tossup, really, with regards to who seems like a better fit for the Yankees, especially if the team is merely looking for a bench outfielder. However, the Yankees’ needs this season extend beyond that. As stated by Chad Jennings, the Yankees, in part, acquired Hoffmann because they were in search of a “right-handed outfielder who could hit lefties.” But, after glancing over Hoffmann’s and Raynor’s stats, it appears as though Hoffmann does not really fit that description.
His minor-league career line against lefties is .287/.362/.390. Conversely, Raynor’s is a robust .327/.392/.475. Given that the Yankees, in preparation of losing Johnny Damon, seemingly selected Hoffman to be a right-handed outfield option to compliment Brett Gardner and even Curtis Granderson, I wonder, why didn’t they go with Raynor, instead? Granted, Raynor didn’t do much against southpaws in 2009 – .653 OPS in Triple-A – while Hoffmann mashed against them – .974 OPS – nonetheless, Raynor’s poor season and Hoffmann’s exceptional season versus left-handed pitching both appear to be aberrations with Raynor likely to rebound. And, frankly, if the Yankees actually believed in Hoffmann’s abilities against lefties, they would not entertain signing a player like Reed Johnson, as they are now.
Basically, I’m not sure why the Yankees chose Hoffmann over Raynor, who they were rumored to have interest in just prior to the Rule 5. Raynor seems like he would have been a better fit for the team given their immediate needs.