Since Cody Ross graduated high school in 1999, he hasn't been able to choose where he worked. He was traded twice, waived, and sold. He played for four different major-league teams and seven different minor-league teams before he was 25. When he finally latched on with the Marlins, they waived him after five seasons because they didn't want to pay for the salary he'd get in his last year of arbitration.
This is why Ross charged into free agency with a certain amount of zeal and optimism. After being told "go here" and "go there" for over a decade, after going from Erie to Toledo to Detroit to Las Vegas to Los Angeles to Louisville … he finally got to choose. And when the offseason started, he was looking for a three-year deal. You know, a little security. This desire was met with guffaws and chortles from the baseball world. Cody Ross was not a three-year-contract kind of guy.
So he waited. And waited. November passed. December passed. Spots filled up. Teams rounded out their rosters. Where Ross was once looking for a multi-year deal, now he was just looking for a place to play. At the end of January, he signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox, where he was going to split time with Ryan Sweeney. After all of that waiting, he was going to be a platoon guy again.
Which is what he should have been this whole time, of course. There are platoon guys, and then there's Cody Ross:
|vs RHP as RHB||1904||.252||.313||.415||.728|
|vs LHP as RHB||751||.286||.355||.587||.942|
The Red Sox haven't had the luxury of using him in a platoon role, as just about their entire outfield has been hit by a car this year. Literally hit by a car. This isn't a metaphor. The odds are staggering. So Ross has had to play more against right-handers than left-handers. How's that going this year?
|vs RHP as RHB||152||6||.243||.316||.434||.750|
|vs LHP as RHB||67||9||.328||.410||.836||1.246|
He's a caricature of himself, turning into the greatest hitter on the planet against southpaws. I'm not going to suggest that he's the best thing that's happened to the Red Sox this year -- David Ortiz is probably the winner there -- but the things that have gone right for the Red Sox make for a pretty short list. Considering all the things that have gone wrong for the team this season, it's pretty impressive they're as close to the second Wild Card as they are.
A big part of that is Ross. The difference between this year and the rest of his career? Probably nothing. We're still dealing with sample-size shenanigans. No one's that good against lefties.
But that isn't to say we shouldn't pay attention to Ross; he's finally found a home that suits him. Look at those career splits again. They add up to a .262/.325/.464 career line. Not bad. Now remember that he's played the vast majority of his home games at Joe Robbie Stadium and AT&T Park. Those parks aren't friendly to right-handed pull hitters, especially one whose power comes when he pulls the ball.
Fenway is his perfect fit. And with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back, the Red Sox can finally use Ross as they intended, splitting his time in right with Ryan Sweeney. A lot of teams made a lot of moves over the offseason, but few made more sense than Ross with the Red Sox. Now that just about everyone's healthy, we get to see the outfield the Red Sox designed. To this point, at least, a third of it worked out just about as good as they hoped.