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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:

Here are John Raynor’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.

Photo via the Daily News

14 Responses to “Why did the Yanks take Hoffmann over Raynor in the Rule 5?”

  1. Good post/comparison of the two. Hopefully the Yanks scouts have seen both play in person and the numbers simply aren’t representing something that the Yanks really like in Hoffman.  (Quote)

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  2. Hofman divided his times as a hockey player.Yankees may feel he has a steeper improvment curve and higher upside.His best baseball may be in front of him while Raynor is what he is.  (Quote)

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  3. I don’t think either one of these guys is going to be the reason we repeat this year. Anybody heard from Damon lately?  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    hoffman is our LF guy, lose bruney in a trade not to play him???  (Quote)

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  4. Let Johnny Damon ride off into the sun set already.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    second that motion  (Quote)

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  5. raynor has better career minor league numbers, but hoffman has done much better at the AAA level and he’s improving while raynor seems to have been regressing. plus if either one plays much at all it for the yankees it will be as a right handed hitting platoon with gardner and the splits for raynor .653 OPS and hoffman .974 OPS are like night and day. I think they are still looking for that “right-handed outfielder who could hit lefties.” and hoffman will just be a backup. like someone said “I don’t think either one of these guys is going to be the reason we repeat this year.”  (Quote)

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  6. Hoffmann is more ready to be a full time big leaguer and part of the deal being a Rule V draft pick is they have to be on the 25 man roster all year. So while Raynor may be the better prospect, Hoffmann has a better chance of sticking around all year which makes it the better pick.  (Quote)

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  7. “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”

    Assuming the Yankees even considered Raynor, I think the important part is the “has had more success at an advanced level” bit. They were Rule-5ing a guy they felt could help them compete this year, as you are forced to do under Rule 5: You can’t send him to AAA for further seasoning, at least not this year. If Raynor is ill-equipped to handle AAA pitching in 2009, is it reasonable to expect him to perform adequately against major league pitching in 2010?

    This is less of an issue for the Pittsburgh Pirates for two reasons. They can afford to give a guy who’s going to bat .190 against major league pitching 500 plate appearances because it’s not going to cost them a playoff spot. They already suck. Plus, if he fails to develop as expected in 2010 they can always send him back to AAA in 2011 if they need to.

    Fundamentally Hoffmann is more “major-league ready” than Raynor. The Yankees are not in a position to Rule-5 a player for as a pure talent-grab, while the Pirates are.  (Quote)

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    Chris H. Reply:

    I think that’s the best way to look at it Garrett. The Yankees just wanted the player that was proven at a higher level so they picked Hoffmann. It makes sense, although I think Raynor could have provided anything Hoffmann will provide. But, as Steve essentially said, the role is a limited, so it’s not that big of a deal.  (Quote)

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    john Plevel Reply:

    your an idiot chris. yes we get that you like Raynor more then Hoffman. But for the most part all the info you gave us said that Hoffman is the better player. The only plus side to taking Raynor in this situation is that he is faster. big f**** deal.  (Quote)

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    Chris H. Reply:

    Name-calling is the last refuge of the man with no argument. Anyway, I also implied that Raynor was the better hitter. Well, no, scratch that, I explicitly said that he was a more well rounded hitter (and I said that he hits lefties better than Hoffmann, which is key). You seemed to miss that, though. Reading helps, man.  (Quote)

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  8. Take the inflation due to the high altitude of AAA Alb and I doubt Hoffman’s #’s look one bit better than Raynor’s.  (Quote)

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