Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting At Least Some Contribution

Last night, the Dodgers put together a lineup that consisted of:

Abreu .319
M. Ellis .336
Kemp .452
Ethier .365
Kennedy .286
Loney .269
Cruz .278
A. Ellis .351

Maybe you will notice the bottom of that lineup looking pretty atrocious. That number next to their names are their respective wOBA's. Besides the issue of putting a guy with a .351 wOBA 8th behind guys that cannot even crack .300, your other problem is something more troubling. Using their career BABIP, this is what their wRC+ should be at:

Abreu 91
M. Ellis 101
Kemp 188
Ethier 111
Kennedy 81
Loney 92
Cruz ---
A. Ellis ---

Cruz and Ellis do not have enough data yet for this kind of analysis, so they are left out of it. Besides, there is no other possible replacement for them. For Abreu, I could not use his career BABIP since he has not even been at that level since 2006. Without doing real math, I eyeballed his BABIP at this point of his career to be about .310. I was generous with Kennedy and gave him a BABIP of .290. It did not help him much, though.

So what, Tony? You might ask. We know the offense is terrible. And yes, it really is. The first problem would be lineup construction, since you generally want decreasing wOBA to optimize run production with minor tweaking for your power guys (in other words, you do not want Kemp leading off since he would drive in nobody). The more important problem, in my mind, is that you are playing people that have no business ever starting. Specifically, I am thinking of three people (Abreu, Kennedy, and Rivera, who did not start yesterday, and one still special exemption).

Bobby Abreu was signed for his bat, and for his bat only. He's no longer the base stealer that he once was, and he does not even really try for them anymore. His fielding is quite atrocious, yet he has been lucky this year in that regard as the small sample size makes him look not so bad according to UZR. However, we all know the real defensive value. While with the Dodgers, his wRC+ has been 102. However, you expect it to be at 91, in other words, below average. So you have a player that is a terrible fielder, is no longer a good baserunner, and is a below average bat. So then, why would you ever start him? And no, he does not have much of a platoon split this year. He's just been bad. He has racked up a WAR of 0.5, and is expected to regress. Not good. My choice for left field would have to be Tony Gwynn Jr. He is not going to get you anything with the bat. However, he will at least give you great fielding and good baserunning. There is no expected regression with him, which is good. He will be a marginal improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. Then you still have the hope that he can learn how to walk again. In San Diego he peaked at a 12.1% walk rate. Since coming to Los Angeles it has has not topped 6.8%.

Adam Kennedy was signed for some reason. That is really all I can say on the subject. He has not topped a WAR of 1 since 2009 when he was 33. Do we really expect him to do that at age 36? Jerry Hairston, on the other hand, hasn't not topped a WAR of 1 since 2009. Again, this is basically a marginal improvement, but it is an improvement nontheless. Adam Kennedy has no reason to still be playing.

Juan Rivera is not a good fielder. Juan Rivera is not a good batter. Juan Rivera is not a good baserunner. Juan Rivera is supposed to be a good platoon guy. A wRC+ against lefties does not strike me as platoon-level. It strikes me as decent, but not good enough for a guy who cannot field. Furthermore, the last time he topped 100 wRC+ against lefties besides last year was 2009. He is just awful this year. For all the nonsense Loney gets, at least he can field his position. Sure, he has a negative WAR, but he is looking to improve his offensive numbers. The issue here is that Rivera has been even more negative. It's awful that the decision is between below replacement and really below replacement, but that's what the situation is.

Finally, there is the one guy who is known for his glove yet has a bat. I should support him, too, right? Juan Uribe has been so bad with the bat that his inflated defensive numbers do not make up for it. He still has a negative WAR. Enough already. There should be a simple rule in baseball. He who does not have an OBP above .250 shall not swing the bat.

So I'd like to see this lineup at some point (wRC+).

A. Ellis 123
M. Ellis 113
Kemp 193
Ethier 133
Hairston 120
Loney 68
Gwynn 60
Cruz 74

Oh well. I guess I forgot the speed at the top. I must not want to win. 

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