CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL... (08/05)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (08/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (08/10)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Preparat... (08/08)

August 5, 2011

Prospectus Hit and Run

Vortices of Suck, Part II

by Jay Jaffe

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, we continue the hunt we started on Wednesday, rounding out our "all-star" team of players who have produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a soft breeze running through their team's bank account. These are the Vortices of Suck.

Left Field: Luke Scott (.263 TAv, 0.4 WARP), Felix Pie (.203 TAv, -0.5 WARP) Nolan Reimold (.271 TAv, 0.5 WARP), Orioles
What began as a promising season in Baltimore has become another nightmare. Where the Orioles were 30-31 as late as June 10, they've gone 13-33 since, a pace that equates to 46 wins over the course of a full season. The growing pains of a promising pitching staff have been the primary focus of their troubles, but the offense has been nothing to write home about, ninth in the league in scoring at 4.11 runs per game, and an even sorrier 11th in True Average. Nowhere have the O’s gotten worse production relative to the defensive spectrum than in left field, where the above trio and friends have combined to hit .201/.271/.333. Coming off a career-best season in 2010, Scott has made more headlines this year via his mouth and his guns rather than his hitting. He battled back spasms and a partially torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder, going on the disabled list in early July; after returning for one game, he realized that surgery was a necessity, finishing him for the season. Reimold, who's never been able to match his solid 2009 rookie campaign, has done most of his damage—at .221/.310/.416, more to the Orioles' offense than to opponents—in Scott's absence, and Pie has hit just .188/.234/.231 while spotting in left field, and just .220/.255/.280 overall.

Remedy (?): With one more year of arbitration eligibility, Scott figures to be back next season, if not immediately because of the time it takes for such injuries to heal (ask B.J. Upton, or this reporter, another labrum repair vet). That doesn't mean the O's don't have other options. As Jason Parks wrote yesterday, they have a decent left-field prospect in L.J. Hoes at Double-A Bowie, and is there anything Camden Yards couldn't use besides more Hoes? (Sorry.) A third-round 2008 draft pick whose conversion to second base didn't take, Hoes is a contact hitter with good on-base ability but not a big power threat; he's hitting .326/.389/.455 at Bowie after a slow start at High-A Frederick. He might be worth a September look, although pulling him into the poisonous nightmare that is the Orioles' present otherwise makes no sense. In the meantime, the team should see if Reimold can rediscover some of his lost promise; while he's 27, he's not even arbitration-eligible until after next season.

Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez (.187 TAv, -0.2 WARP), Michael Saunders (.182 TAv, -0.3 WARP), Mariners
We can debate whether this duo has actually been worse than Replacement Level Killer Alex Rios (.197, -1.5); the two guys above are a combined 14.5 FRAA better in the field. However, there's no getting around how awful they've been at the plate, combining to hit .197/.238/.249 with two homers while playing center field, which makes Ryan Langerhans' performance in that role (.152/.364/.424 with three homers—out of five hits in all—in 45 plate appearances) look like Mickey Mantle. The hope was that Gutierrez would rebound from the mysterious stomach ailment that wrecked his 2010 and recover the 2009 form that saw him hit .283/.339/.425 while playing outstanding defense. But even after finally being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (skip the jokes, please) and missing the first seven weeks of the season—a span during which Saunders put the knife in his once-vaunted prospect status—Gutierrez has been completely inept at the plate, with just seven extra-base hits in 225 plate appearances.

Remedy (?): Thanks to the utter ineptitude of Ned Colletti*, the Mariners lucked into Trayvon Robinson at the trading deadline because the Dodgers tried to sidecar onto a deal for Erik Bedard. Helped by the hitter-friendly Albuquerque environment, Robinson hit .293/.375/.563 with 26 homers but just nine doubles before being traded; he doesn't have that much power, and out of concern for his subpar throwing arm, the Dodgers viewed him more as a left fielder. It makes sense for the Mariners to audition him in center while seeing if fellow deadline acquisition Casper Wells can help in left. It's not as though this 48-62 team has much left to lose.

*Thought for the day from the depths of my Dodgers despair: Ten million years from now, when then sun burns out and the Earth is just a frozen ice ball hurtling through space, the differences between Colletti and Buzzie Bavasi won't matter one bit.

Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki (.244 TAv, -0.3 WARP), Mariners
It's bad enough that between free-agent bust Chone Figgins and the ailing Gutierrez, the Mariners already have two Vortices of Suck to call their own. Alas, the team's most popular everyday player deserves his spot here as well, as he's hitting just .268/.310/.316, numbers that are by far his worst since coming over from Japan; in 11 major-league seasons, Ichiro has never posted a batting average below .303, an on-base percentage below .350, or a slugging percentage lower than .386. Unless he can collect 78 hits over the Mariners' final 52 games, his remarkable streak of collecting 200 hits will end at 10 consecutive seasons. What's gone wrong? For starters, the 37-year-old could probably use a day off every now and then; he's started 109 of the Mariners 110 games, 104 of them in the field and five at DH. Is Eric Wedge afraid the team would suddenly forget how to lose in his absence? Or that the fans would instead decide to spend the evening at Starbucks? It doesn't help that Ichiro's walk rate is below his already-low career average of 6.2 percent, or that his isolated power is at a career low; those secondary skills make his long-anticipated BABIP crash (to .292, 65 points lower than his first 10 seasons) much more dire in terms of his value. He's a future Hall of Famer, but at the moment, he looks like one at the tail end of his career.

Remedy (?): Ichiro is signed through 2012. Given that he's a gate attraction and that he was still a productive ballplayer a year ago, it makes more sense to reduce his playing time and see if he can recover his productive ways. Getting the aforementioned Wells (.273/.340/.469 in 142 plate appearances) or Mike Carp (.297/.366/.440 in 101 plate appearances) more time in the outfield, even with the latter's defensive shortcomings, might have the dual effect of providing a jolt on Ichiro's days off and giving him enough rest to rejuvenate his bat.

Designated Hitter: Adam Dunn (.225 TAv, -1.8 WARP), White Sox
Peering into the Vortex to make this choice is a challenge. Collectively, the DHs of the Angels (.230/.343/.301) and Mariners (.224/.329/.326) have been the majors' least productive, but the player who could be classified as the regular at that position has been at least somewhat better. In Anaheim, Bobby Abreu's overall line of .258/.373/.347 comes to a .285 True Average, and as lousy as his .258/.373/.347 line as a DH is, it dwarfs the .179/.277/.274 provided by various irregulars in about 28 percent of the playing time. In Seattle, Jack Cust's .213/.344/.329 line comes out to a .262 TAv—miles better than Dunn, but not good enough to avoid the pink slip, as he was released this week. And so it falls to Dunn, whom I already made the DH on my Killers team; I've never let a player cross over in this manner, but then we've never seen anybody quite this bad. Dunn went into Thursday night's contest hitting .166/.296/.300 and leading the league in bad body language; he looks utterly defeated by the time he steps into the batters box.

The Big Donkey has 382 plate appearances thus far, and would seem to be a lock for 400. The lowest single-season batting average of any player with at least 400 plate appearances since World War II is Dal Maxvil with the 1969 Cardinals, followed by Three True Outcomes patron saint Rob Deer (.179) and Ed Brinkman (.185). Deer wins the honors for the lowest batting average of any batting title qualifier (3.1 plate appearances per game, 502 over a 162-game season), followed by Ivan DeJesus in the 1981 strike season (.194) or if you prefer, Tom Tresh in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher (.195). Furthermore, with -1.8 WARP at the two-thirds point of the season, Dunn has an outside shot at our modern record of futility, -3.0 WARP, set by the Brewers' Ted Simmons—a near-Hall of Fame-caliber catcher in his heyday, from which he was far removed—in 1984, and at the very least, he could wind up in the top—er, bottom 10 at -2.5 WARP.

Remedy (?): If I'm Ozzie Guillen, I'd be willing to try just about anything to get Dunn kick-started knowing that he's still got three years at $14 million per remaining on his deal; the goal is to find some level of comfort by the end of this season. Perhaps try DHing Carlos Quentin, who's no great shakes in the outfield, and playing Dunn in right. Or DH Paul Konerko and play Dunn at first, even with the defensive hit there; it's not like Konerko is the second coming of Keith Hernandez. Put Juan Pierre in a crate and send him to Siberia, call up Dayan Viciedo to DH, and play Dunn in left. Sure, he's terrible in the field, but if it gets his bat going, he'll outhit his mistakes. Besides, anyone who has watched Pierre or Alex Rios play defense lately knows that Dunn would have plenty of company out there when it comes to bad outfielding.  

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

Related Content:  Vortices Of Suck,  The Who,  Bad Season

14 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

jj0501

Well Dunn. Actually a very reasonable alternative to the dilemma of what to do with Adam. Yes, some at bats it looks like he is "out" before he shuffles downcast to the plate.

Aug 05, 2011 07:00 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Slapping my head because I forgot to include another explanation for why Ichiro made the Vortices list: he's an imposter.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110803&content_id=22690656&vkey=news_sea&c_id=sea

Aug 05, 2011 07:58 AM
 
jedjethro

Jay, thanks for the insight, analysis and the chuckles.

Aug 05, 2011 08:22 AM
rating: 0
 
onegameref

Play Dunn in the field I believe is the only choice Ozzie has left. He clearly has had a tough time adjusting to sitting around the dugout. He should chat with the Big Hurt about it. He turned into a great DH though quite relucantly. Or talk to Greg Luzinski one of the early success stories as a DH.

Aug 05, 2011 09:35 AM
rating: 1
 
onegameref

reluctantly...touchy spelling

Aug 05, 2011 09:37 AM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

The best solution for Dunn is a buyout. give him half the $ he's owed is he retires today. he looks so dejected he just might take it.

Aug 05, 2011 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Aside from Andruw Jones and the Dodgers, anyone recall any player in recent memory taking a buyout from a team to go away? This doesn't seem to happen at all, though it probably should in some cases.

Aug 05, 2011 12:26 PM
 
Karl T

This is a 31-year old whose last 9 OPS+ season marks were:
146; 140; 114; 136; 130; 132; 126; 144; 138.
I wish I only had one bad year per decade. Cut him some slack. First year as a DH, first year in the AL, first year with the new club, surgical removal of body parts, upset about his NBA fantasy team, who knows what is going on with him. But cut him some slack, don't cut him. Even if he only returns to 85% of his former self his contract is well worth it.

Aug 05, 2011 14:22 PM
rating: 3
 
doncoffin
(422)

I think it's fair to say that part of Dunn's problem is his reluctance to recurerate properly from the apendectomy, and the, um, spinelessness of the Sox management in going along with him. In his first 22 games after the surgery (with 1 game off), he was 9/71, with 1 HR and 5 RBIs. After which, he played in the next 22 games in a row. I'm fully aware that apendectomies are nowhere near as difficult as they once were, but, still, one week off after major surgery? What was he--what were Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen--thinking?

Aug 07, 2011 10:50 AM
rating: 1
 
cachhubguy

He talked to Frank Thomas back in June. It hasn't helped. This is a lost year. He might want to work out this winter, for a change.

Aug 05, 2011 15:34 PM
rating: 0
 
AdamSt

If they had one or two guys in left, instead of 6 to 8, I bet Mariners would be the choice in left field as well.

Aug 06, 2011 10:38 AM
rating: 0
 
mbrignall

C'mon, the Ms deserve a clean sweep in the outfield. Their LF position has an OBP of .265. That's bad for a backup catcher.
Here's an oddity: by the OPS+ stat, the Ms have released their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best hitters from the opening day roster. That's bizarre, almost as weird as the #9 hitters outslugging the cleanup position.

Aug 08, 2011 11:14 AM
rating: 0
 
greensox

Rios is a pretty good outfielder....when he's not dogging it, which he has been, so I guess he isn't a pretty good outfielder. The Sox probably should have worked a deal themselves for Rasmus, but the pitcher they got threw decently first out, and they're stuck with Rios (and Dunn)so we'll see. Juan Pierre moves out of the lineup the day Guillen moves out of the southside, so that's intractable as well.

Aug 09, 2011 11:09 AM
rating: 0
 
radarbinder

It sad to see that so few "get" Paul Konerko's abilities to field his position at first base. Konerko may be the best in the majors at scooping errant throws and he doesn't let many balls get past him. No, his range on foul popups is not great nor does he go to his right with the aplomb of, say, a Teixera, but he saves many errors and eliminates many possible infield hits with his remarkable glovework at the bag which is actually job one for first sackers.

So please, please keep Dunn away from first base, where he is a lumbering sieve! Pierre is a horrible player, Rios is a big disappointment and Ozzie Guillen just cannot see how bad they are apparently. Vicideo and De Aza and Lillibridge need to play a lot more, Dunn should never see a lefty and Pierre needs to be send to quadruple-A so to speak (Seattle?) for a bag of corn chips if that is all we can get!

Aug 09, 2011 14:27 PM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL... (08/05)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (08/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (08/10)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Preparat... (08/08)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Every Team's Moneyball: Cincinnati Reds: Go ...
Every Team's Moneyball: Chicago White Sox: T...
Premium Article Some Projection Left: The Moran Mystery
Notes from the Field: Seven Days and 32 Pros...
Spring Training Notebook: Cactus League
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Demise of the Two-Out Rally
Some Projection Left: Matuella has Tommy Joh...

MORE FROM AUGUST 5, 2011
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, AL West: Deadline Fallou...
Baseball ProGUESTus: Moping About Moneyball
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Shoulder Woes
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 8/5/11

MORE BY JAY JAFFE
2011-08-15 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Fast Breakers
2011-08-12 - Prospectus Hit and Run: WWWMW (What's Wrong ...
2011-08-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: What the Halo?
2011-08-05 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Vortices of Suck, Pa...
2011-08-03 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Vortices of Suck, Pa...
2011-08-01 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: The Ned Zone
2011-07-29 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Beltran and Damon
More...

MORE PROSPECTUS HIT AND RUN
2011-08-15 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Fast Breakers
2011-08-12 - Prospectus Hit and Run: WWWMW (What's Wrong ...
2011-08-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: What the Halo?
2011-08-05 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Vortices of Suck, Pa...
2011-08-03 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Vortices of Suck, Pa...
2011-08-01 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: The Ned Zone
2011-07-29 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Beltran and Damon
More...