Danny Valencia: Blue Jays Year in Review


Danny Valencia joined the Toronto Blue Jays just prior to the July 31st Trade Deadline in a deal that sent C Erik Kratz and SP Liam Hendriks to the Kansas City Royals.  Valencia was targeted by the Jays for his ability to hit left-handed pitching, which had become an area of great need on the roster.

Landing with the Blue Jays is the most recent stop on what has been a whirlwind ride for Danny Valencia.  Originally drafted in the 19th Round out of the University of Miami by the Minnesota Twins, Valencia would make his big league debut in 2010 and be named to Baseball America’s 2010 All-Rookie team.

When his play quickly declined in 2011 and 2012, Valencia was shipped to the Boston Red Sox in a minor deal.  Later that same year, he was flipped to the Baltimore Orioles for cash, before being traded to the Kansas City Royals just a year, later in December of 2013.

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Since arriving in Toronto, however, Danny Valencia seems to have found a role that he is comfortable with.  He worked in a platoon role at 3rd/1st Base, as manager John Gibbons looked for opportunities to use him against left-handed pitching.  Valencia delivered, but does he possess a complete enough game to fight for a role larger than a platoon partner in 2015?

The Good

Valencia’s ability to hit left-handed pitching is his meal ticket, and he did not disappoint in his brief time with the Blue Jays.  If paired properly in a platoon, Valencia could provide one half of a very productive position on the diamond.

These numbers are clearly encouraging.  With his BA and OPB quite similar to his career totals, Danny Valencia’s career .502 slugging percentage against lefties suggests that there is room for added power within his game.

Valencia was very effective in the starts he received against lefties, and allowed John Gibbons to get Adam Lind out of the lineup without shifting the rest of his roster too much.  He also holds great value off of the bench, as left-handed relievers were often the Blue Jays kryptonite in 2014.

The Bad

With those numbers agains left-handers, you can guess why Valencia is not an MLB All-Star: right handed pitching.  Much like his potential platoon-mate in Lind, Valencia struggles greatly to produce enough contact or power against pitchers of the same hand.

Danny Valencia was given every opportunity to develop a better approach against right-handers, but the ugly K:BB ratio suggests that he is still a long way from that.  This leaves Valencia in a group of “half-players” under control by the Toronto Blue Jays.  This is fine on a healthy roster, and can actually be quite a luxury, but 2014 often found the Jays forced to field a roster with holes due to players with glaring weaknesses in their games.

That being said, Danny Valencia was not brought in to hit .290 from both sides of the plate.  If he were able to become even an average hitter against right-handers, that would be a huge bonus, but there is a lot of work to be done.

The Future

There are quite a few possibilities with Danny Valencia in 2015, which is a good thing.  He could see time at First Base in a platoon role with Adam Lind, but the Blue Jays may want some more power to come from that position, if possible.  Valencia is also a prime candidate to see time at 3rd Base if the Blue Jays are tempted to shift Brett Lawrie to 2nd Base either long-term, or on a game-by-game matchup basis.

Valencia is unlikely to be the driving force behind the Blue Jays in 2015, but he could prove to be a useful piece of the puzzle.  The bottom of Toronto’s 25-man roster was disastrous at times in 2015, so the addition of names like Valencia will add stability and valuable situational hitting.