Matt Joyce was one of the good remaining options on the free agent market that would not break your bank. Even after recently signing Corey Dickerson, the Marlins saw more room to improve their 2020 outfield depth and inked Joyce to a major league contract.
Take a quick look at the veteran outfielder and maybe there’s not much to fall in love with. But if you go deeper, you will applaud this addition.
We’ve found four great, interesting statistics about Joyce that will make you eager to see him on the field already.
1. Platoon specialist: In his career, Joyce has been used almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers (specifically in 86.6% of his plate appearances) and there’s a good reason for that. The Tampa native has a lifetime .252/.354/.452 (122 wRC+) slash line against righties, along with 178 doubles, 133 home runs, and 416 runs batted in. These numbers contrast to the ones he’s posted when facing lefties: .188/.272/.309, with more strikeouts (163) than hits (92).
Even Joyce himself acknowledges that he doesn’t expect to be a regular starter this season (via MLB Network Radio). Rather, the Marlins will put him in the most comfortable matchups possible.
2. Good at walks, too: The 35-year-old only took 238 PA last year in 129 games (39 starts) as a member of the Braves, but he got the best out of those. He was patient and good at pitch selection, qualities that resulted in a nice walk rate of 16.0% (38 BB). That mark would have been the highest of the 2019 season for the Marlins.
Without playing every day, Joyce has 493 bases on balls since 2010, which ranks 36th among all major leaguers in that span.
3. Fastball killer; breaking stuff...not so much: The newest Fish LOVES fastballs. He registered a .347 average, a .602 slugging percentage, nine doubles, and all of his seven homers in 2019 against that pitch.
Although it was a different story when pitchers used breaking balls: .167 AVG, .188 SLG. That scenario has been the same for—at least—the last four years. Since 2016, Joyce has killed fastballs (.306 AVG, .570 SLG) and has been completely stopped by breaking stuff (.127 AVG, .194 SLG).
4. OBP machine: Put it all together and the Marlins have a new valuable weapon to plug into their lineup. Among all the men with at least 200 plate appearances in 2019, there were only five players with an on-base percentage higher than Joyce’s .408:
- Anthony Rendon
- Yordan Álvarez
- Alex Bregman
- Christian Yelich
- Mike Trout (duh)
That beautiful .408 would have led all Marlins players last season. Magneuris Sierra (42 PA) had the highest OBP in the team and then there was Jon Berti’s .348.