Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Where Do We Go From Here (Outfield/DH Edition)?
Picking up from the prior post, here’s a look at how the Yankee outfield and DH spots project heading into 2011.
wOBA: weighted on-base average
BR: Linear weights batting runs
BRAR: Position-adjusted batting runs above replacement level
Def: Projected defense in terms of runs saved above/below average
We start in LF. One note about wOBA here is I do NOT include SB/CS, so when you compare them to Fangraphs you’ll see a big gap for high SB guys. I do this because I like to look at platoon splits a lot with wOBA and base running has no impact there. Figure you should add between .015 and .020 points to any guy who’s likely to steal 30-50 bases at a high success rate.
BR and BRAR do include SB/CS though, so that’s the main thing to look at here.
Anyway, I think Gardner’s offensive projection is a bit pessimistic, but I also think his defensive projection is a bit optimistic. His MLEs still drag his offensive projections down a bit, but that’s starting to become less of an issue. He projects to be a bit above average overall as a LF.
The problem the Yankees have right now will become apparent as we move around the OF though, and that’s the fact that they don’t really have any great options for fourth OF. I’ve listed the non-starting OF on the 40 man roster in this depth chart. Melky Mesa’s got the tools to be a prospect, but not the performance to this point. He still strikes out way too much to be an MLB hitter (297 times in 943 AB the past two seasons at Charleston(A) and Tampa(A+). He’s also 24, which means he’s probably not young enough to expect enough improvement to become an MLB player, although you never know.
How about center field? Funny you should ask.
Curtis Granderson’s projection combines pretty good offense and defense and makes him almost 3 wins better than a theoretical replacement level CF. If his hot end to the season was the result of the changes in his swing, he may be able to exceed that projection, but even if he doesn’t that’s plenty good.
Gardner’s the actual #2 CF, but since I already gave him 550 PA in LF I’m only giving him 50 in CF. Golson is the only other OF on the 40 man roster who has played much CF. From what I’ve seen and from what the scouting reports say, he definitely has the glove for CF. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even have the bat for backup catcher.
Then we have right field.
There’s nothing wrong with Nick Swisher in RF, but as with LF we see the problem once you get past him.
So we’ve identified fourth OF as a possible place for an upgrade. So how should the Yankees approach it?
Obviously, the first thing you’d look for is offense. So what outfielders are available that project to outhit Messrs. Curtis, Russo, Mesa and Golson?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Yankees aren’t going to go for Randy Winn 2, Electric Boogaloo. Delwyn Young is a switch-hitter who can also play bad defense at 2B/3B and corner OF. He’d probably outhit the other fourth OF candidates on the Yankees, but once you factor in defense I don’t know that he’s much of an upgrade. I suppose his defensive flexibility makes him useful in an emergency, but I don’t know if it’s enough to make him someone the Yankees should consider.
Brad Hawpe looks like he can hit, but he’s absolutely horrendous defensively and I am very skeptical of trying to figure out how a guy who’s spent most of his career in Colorado will hit elsewhere.
Hmm, I’m drawing a blank here. Damon Johnny? That name sounds familiar for some reason.
Honestly, none of the lefty hitting OF excite me and they don’t really address the platoon issue that I’m going to talk about after I get through this list.
Obviously Manny Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez would be nice additions to any team’s offense, but they’re probably likely to get full-time jobs and as Type A players they’d cost you a draft pick. I’d ignore Jermaine Dye’s projection since he didn’t play last year, and he’s a bad enough defensive OF that he probably gives away any offensive value.
That brings me to Scott Hairston. He is a right-handed hitting OF who can play all three OF spots, although he’s primarily been a LF. Given the construct of the Yankee OF, adding a RHB makes sense.
|Player||Pos||Bats||Projected wOBA||Vs L||Vs R|
Hairston would project as the second-best Yankee OF vs. LHP, which would allow you to stick him in LF when you want to rest Gardner or Granderson, with Gardner moving to CF on the days you want to rest Granderson. Over 200 PA, the difference between Hairston and Granderson’s wOBA vs. LHP is about 8.5 runs, which is a bit less than one win.
I wouldn’t be opposed to the Yankees bringing back Marcus Thames if they can’t get another RH outfielder, but he really shouldn’t be in the OF and I don’t know if he’s going to be needed enough at DH to warrant the roster spot.
Speaking of DH.
I restricted DH to 725 PA because the ludicrous interleague play that still infests MLB means the Yankees will have to allow their pitchers to strike out three times a game for nine games.
Jorge Posada’s bat still projects very well as a catcher. Unfortunately, as a DH it’s nothing special. A lot of catchers end up hitting better when not catching so Posada may be able to beat that projection, although I actually think his projection is too optimistic. Given his contract, the Yankees probably aren’t going to look for someone else to be their primary DH and are probably going to hope Posada can hit reasonably well. I hope he does, especially if this is his swan song. He’s been criminally underrated and should probably be a Hall of Famer, but I think he’s a long-shot.
The Yankees will also probably use DH to give some of their players a half-day off, so I threw a few of those guys in there. For the hell of it since I’m sure someone will ask, if the Yankees signed Manny Ramirez here’s how he’d project.
I think he’d probably end up closer to that 35% projection but that’s still about a one win upgrade on Posada. I don’t know if he’s worth the headaches and the drama that will come with him though, and I’m personally not a fan of the guy so I’d rather not see him in pinstripes.
Unless he’d sign for $4M for a year.
So if the Yankees add Scott Hairston they can probably improve by another win. That probably moves them into about 90 win territory.
But the real improvements to the team are probably going to have to come from the pitching staff, which will be the subject of the next post in this series.
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