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Mr. Petco

February 23rd, 2012 by

I’ve found the ultimate Petco player. That’s right, the Holy Grail.

Since Petco opened in 2004, we’ve all dreamed about finding players who are resistant to the brutal effects Petco has on hitters. You’ll remember that Barry Bonds, aka the best hitter of the past fifty years, called the park “baseball proof” and mortals have spent the past eight seasons proving him right. Josh Byrnes thinks Yonder Alonso and Carlos Quentin might have what it takes but I’m not so certain.

To find the perfect Petco player, I started by looking at what offense Petco does allow. According to this study done by Beyond the Box Score, Petco only favors walks (1.05) and triples (1.02) when it comes to offense. It also is fairly neutral on singles (0.98) and stolen bases (0.97), which leaves us with our criteria. You’ll notice that Quentin’s homers and Alonso’s doubles didn’t make the cut.

Making our search a little easier is the fact that triples, singles, and stolen bases all tend to be products of the same skill. Looking over the three-year numbers for speedsters from across the league, names like Dexter Fowler and Jose Reyes pop up, though they’re not quite as perfect as our guy.

Over the past three years, our guy has 39 triples, which leads the league, has hit 302 singles with only a .294 BABIP, drawn 168 walks and has stolen 78 bags with an 82% success rate. All of this with a career 4.1 UZR/150 in center. Sounds great, right? Wish he were a Padre?

You might want to sit down.

I’m not saying that the Padres should’ve hung onto Shane Victorino back in 2003 because things are never that simple. Who knows if a 22-year-old Victorino puts it together in San Diego the way the 25-year-old version did in Philadelphia. I’m just I wish they would’ve.

(Of course, Victorino has a career 65 OPS+ at Petco in 81 PA. Maybe the park really is simply baseball proof.)

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Josh Byrnes the Diamondback in the form of lines on a screen

December 5th, 2011 by

Josh Byrnes Diamondbacks Pythagorean Record and Farm System Ranking

Lets take an objective, simplified look at new Padres GM Josh Byrnes‘ career as a general manager. Above is a graphical timeline showing the Diamondbacks’ farm system as ranked by Baseball America, and the Diamondback’s team Pythagorean Record Rank (as calculated by Baseball-Reference) compared to the rest of the major leagues.

The graph is meant to simply and concretely stand on its own, so I’ll leave the interpretation to you.

Just kidding, no I won’t. Here’s what I think: the Diamondbacks did not see nearly enough major league success in exchange for a farm system that tanked so badly, and I don’t see where Jeff Moorad‘s high level of confidence in Josh Byrnes comes from.

Meanwhile, Jed Hoyer brought the Padres’ farm from near the bottom to the top, and was allowed to leave along with draft guru Jason McLeod after Jeff Moorad refused to match the Chicago Cubs’ contract offer to Hoyer.

With a payroll as low as the Padres’, and after losing their top two (arguably three) talent evaluators this offseason, the new regime has an uphill battle. As we’ve all heard, a “system” of scouts and processes is in place now. How long does that system last once the head is chopped off? What evidence is there that Josh Byrnes knows how to build, or at least maintain such a system? I would argue that the evidence shows the opposite, as Josh Byrnes decimated his previous farm club. To be fair, I’ll be watching the young Diamondback players Byrnes assembled before leaving to see if that trend reversed.

For a more in depth analysis of Byrnes in Arizona, see Geoff Young’s excellent piece at Baseball Prospectus. He’s higher on Byrnes than I am, which is an excellent sign considering Geoff’s experience and the level of detail in his analysis. I hope there’s more to Josh Byrnes than the big picture results he has shown with the Diamondbacks.

Posted in statistics | 1 Comment »

New at Friarhood 02/22

March 22nd, 2011 by

I discuss the recent announcement that Orlando Hudson will be the team’s three hitter going into the season. It’s not really a big deal, but I still put an effort in. Check it out here, but feel free to leave your comments here (here here).

Posted in sacrificial links, statistics | 1 Comment »

Earning their paycheck

March 6th, 2011 by

For those of you who don’t know, in their Win Value section, along with WAR, Fangraphs lists what they refer to as “Dollars.” In their words, it is:

WAR converted to a dollar scale based on what a player would make in free agency

This stat can seem a bit misleading when, for instance, it says Andres Torres was worth $23.9 million last season. Obviously, Torres didn’t make that much, nor would any of the thirty teams in the league give him that much in free agency, but based on his 2010 performance and the price the market put on WAR in free agency, he would be worth that much.

The San Diego Padres have little in common with the rest of the league when it comes to market value. Kevin Towers became known as a dumpster diver not because he loved swimming in trash but because, as the GM of the Padres, he had to. And over the course of his fifteen years in San Diego, Towers found some winners. Phil Nevin, who was acquired for Andy Sheets and went on to provide the team 19.3 wins in six and a half years, is just one of the finds that Jed Hoyer now has to take inspiration from.

Hoyer’s second offseason was an eventful one, as he tried to find a way to make up for Adrian Gonzalez and his departing production. In his effort, he turned to Brad Hawpe, Orlando Hudson, and Ryan Ludwick, amongst others. With the limited budget he’s already known and, hopefully, come to love, Hoyer had to spend his dollars wisely. Going through Hoyer’s major transactions this offseason, I’ve found that he values one win at roughly $2 million ($1.99M to be exact). To determine this, I looked at the contracts he handed out this year in free agency, as well as to Ludwick and Jason Bartlett to avoid arbitration. I included Ludwick, and not Chase Headley or Heath Bell, as his then unknown 2011 contract was part of the deal when he came over from St. Louis, and I included Bartlett because his acquisition seemed dependent on the team working out an extension. This leaves us with seven players: Hawpe, Hudson, Ludwick, Bartlett, Aaron Harang, Jorge Cantu, and Chad Qualls*. And with the price Hoyer has set in mind, I looked at just how much bang Hoyer expects for his bucks.

*Given their small(er) roles, I’m leaving Cantu and Qualls out of this discussion, even though I included their contracts.

Ludwick:

As the owner of largest contract that Hoyer gave out to a player he didn’t inherit, Ludwick is first in line. And at $6.775 million, we can assume that the team is expecting

    3.4 wins

from him. As has been discussed before, Ludwick’s career is a hard one to get a feel for as his monstrous 2008 offsets his total averages. Over 162 games, Ludwick has been worth 3.2 wins per year, which is pretty close to that 3.4. However, if you remove his 08, his average drops to 2.4. Even if we split the difference, Ludwick still underperforms by almost a run. Not all hope is lost, however. Ludwick will be manning left field this season, an easier position that could boost his defensive numbers, he’s in a contract year, and he’s coming off the kind of demands atonement.

Orlando Hudson:

You’ll notice with both Hudson and Bartlett, due to the way it’s set up, I’m splitting the difference on their total contract rather than what they’ll simply be making in 2011. And, at $5.75 million, we can assume that the team is expecting

    2.9 wins

from Hudson this season. It would seem Jed’s done his homework on this one because over 162 games, Hudson’s career average is 3.0. Even though Hudson’s glove and bat have trouble getting on the same page, he still seems like a safe bet for 2011.

Jason Bartlett:

At $5.5 million, we can assume that the team is expecting

    2.8 wins

from Bartlett but, like Ludwick, Bartlett has one great season throwing everything off on the back of his baseball card. On his career, Bartlett has averaged 3.3 wins but without his Ludwick-esque 2009, that average drops to 2.8. Again, it looks like Hoyer did his homework, except that he’s playing it safe at shortstop, handing out a contract Bartlett has shown his has the ability to exceed.

Aaron Harang:

At $4 million, we can assume that the team is expecting

    2 wins

from Harang, a modest expectation. Over 30 starts, Harang has averaged 3 wins per year but that’s a mark he hasn’t hit since 2007. In 2008, Dusty Baker took average as manager of the Reds and that’s all I’ll say about that. Since then, Harang has 5 wins in 78 starts, which actually comes out to 1.9 wins over 30 starts. Like Bartlett, Harang’s is a contract that the Padres went low on, hoping that freeing the pitcher from Baker will help him exceed expectations.

Brad Hawpe:

At $3 million, we can assume that the team is expect

    1.5 wins

from Hawpe. That seems like a low total from first base (Cantu is expected to contribute another 0.4 wins) but a fair expectation of Hawpe. At some point, the season will begin and this sort of clarification won’t be necessary anymore, but it must be pointed out that Hawpe’s not a first baseman. He played in college, and a little bit last season, but Hawpe has primarily been an awful right fielder his entire career. His 1 win average means nothing when you consider that his defensive numbers, at a position he won’t play in San Diego, dragged everything down. Hawpe’s production could range anywhere from 0.5 wins to maybe 3. Financially, the team has made a smart move but as far as what happens on the field goes, that’ll have to wait for another article (probably in September).

Looking it over, Hudson seems to be the team’s safest pick. Bartlett and Harang are good bets to meet expectations but their up-and-down careers makes them harder to project. It shouldn’t take much for Hawpe to make his money back but, until we get any idea of how he is at first, we don’t know how easy that’ll be. And Ludwick, well, at least he’s saying all the right things.

Posted in statistics | 6 Comments »

Replacing Adrian: The road to 23.8

February 8th, 2011 by

As everyone knows, in 2010, the Padres won 90 games. On the field, I-scored-more-than-you wins. But according to the sabermetric number crunchers at Fangraphs, the Padres, as a team, were worth 39.9 wins. These 39.9 wins break down to 16.1 wins from the pitching staff and 23.8 from the offense. Go with me, for a second, when I say that the 2011 team, in order to approach the success the 2010 version had, will have to do their best to replace those wins. That leaves out a bit of nuance but like I said, go with me. And while the pitching staff has some new faces, the star attractions are all returning, making it easier to assume that they’ll do what they did. The offense, on the other hand, is another story.

Starting at the top, the Padres are going to have to find a way to replace Adrian Gonzalez’s production. Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu have been brought in to field his position but it’s unrealistic to expect them to replace what Adrian can do with the bat. To do that, everyone on the team is going to have to do their part. In 2010, Adrian was worth 5.3 wins. Let’s cut him a little slack (he was injured, after all) and say that, to replace Adrian, the team is going to have to create an extra 5.5 wins in 2011. This should be a challenge, as everyone will have to take on extra production, so I’ve created a handy guide to help everyone know what should be expected of them.

First base

2010 total: 5.3 wins

2011 expectation: 4.5 wins

As good a place to start as any. Like I said, this position has fallen to Cantu and Hawpe, who won’t match Adrian’s production. It just won’t happen. However, if the two can combine for 4.5 wins, that’ll be good enough. Working in their favor is the platoon they’re expected to see. Combined, taking Hawpe’s numbers versus right-handed pitching and Cantu’s numbers versus left-handed, the two have an .867 OPS. The man they’re replacing has a career .875 OPS, but his has the PETCO mark already on it, a mark that will surely bring down Hawpe and Cantu. Let’s hope it doesn’t bring them too far down.

Just as the two new first basemen won’t be replacing Adrian offensively, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to replace him defensively either. Hawpe, in particular, is an enigma, having logged only a handful of big league innings at first. He could be a disaster, or he could be a discovery. For the sake of assumption, I’ll say he splits the middle and is average. If he is, and these two can reach four and a half wins, the team should be sitting pretty.

Second base

2010 total: 2.7 wins

2011 expectation: 3 wins

Last season, second base was a two man job. David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston, Jr. took turns manning the position, with Eckstein doing most of the heavy lifting (2.0 wins). This year, the Padres have taken a more efficient route and given the job to one man: Orlando Hudson. In three of the last four years, Hudson has hovered around 3 wins, thanks in large part to his bat. Since trading in the astroturf of the Rogers Centre for the natural stuff, Hudson’s glove hasn’t been as sterling as the reputation that precedes it. But in 2010, he tried something different, as his bat fell to league average (98 wRC+) and his glove picking up the slack (+9.8 UZR). I don’t care what path Hudson takes in 2011, just as long as he makes it to the three win mark.

Shortstop

2010 total: 2.2 wins

2011 expectation: 2.5 wins

At the time, I wasn’t crazy about the Miguel Tejada trade but he proved to be a valuable addition to the team, accumulating 1.4 wins in his two months with the team. But now he’s off to San Fran, with Hairston, Jr. in Washington and Everth Cabrera in flux, so the team turned to Jason Bartlett to man the position in 2011. Just like his new double play partner Hudson, Bartlett has been a a model of consistency over his career. Take a look at this graph:

With the exception of that hiccup in 2009, Bartlett’s WAR has been declining steadily every year. It’s been a two-pronged attack, with Bartlett’s offense and defense both fading, and it’s a trend he’s going to have to reverse if he’s going to be a contributing member of the Padres in 2011. Ignoring 2009, Bartlett hasn’t been worth 2.5 wins since 2007, his last year with the Twins, when he was worth 2.8. He needs to figure out how to get back there (maybe he should rent The Bourne Ultimatum to get him back in a 2007 state of mind) if he’s going to meet expectations.

Third base

2010 total: 4.6 wins

2011 expectation: 3.5 wins

After two miserable seasons in left field, Chase Headley finally moved back to third base in 2010 and he was a revelation. Both UZR and DRS agreed that Headley was the best defensive third baseman in baseball. His glove, combined with his average bat, pushed Headley to 4.6 wins, second highest on the team. Expecting Headley to repeat his 16.5 UZR is unfair, both regression and precedence would like a word, but there’s more than enough room for his bat to chip in this year. I’d say that 3.5 wins is a fair expectation for Headley in 2011.

Left field

2010 total: 0.1 wins

2011 expectation: 3 wins

You’re reading that right. Sort of. With Ludwick moving to left for 2011, I’ve grouped his numbers in with the position for 2010. His defense will probably improve moving away from right, but whatever. You get the idea.

Anyway, you’re reading that right. Left field was a black hole for the 2010 Padres, with Scott Hairston and Ryan Ludwick as the main offenders. Ludwick was especially awful. It might be unfair to say but had Ludwick even been an average player after coming over from St. Louis, the Padres would’ve made the playoffs. Fortunately, Ludwick has all of 2011 to make amends.

Truth be told, expecting three wins out of Ludwick seems like a lot. Outside of his Bartlett 2009-esque 2008, Ludwick has steadily held near 2 wins a year. This season, however, Ludwick will be the highest paid non-closer on the team in a contract year. If there’s ever been a time to ball out of control, it’s now (and by that, I mean when the team desperately needs him to).

Centerfield

2010 total: 3.5 wins

2011 expectations: 2 wins

Oh AJ, I still can’t believe that you are gone. It was only a couple of months ago that you were covering centerfield in PETCO with the grace of a gazelle. To think that they replaced you out there with Chris Denorfia, then pushed you out the door. Los Angeles doesn’t know how lucky they are to have you.

In all seriousness, Denorfia and Tony Gwynn, Jr. were a fine pairing. Norf was a bungler out in the field but he could hit, while the opposite was true of AJ. They split the 3.5 evenly (1.8 for Norf, 1.7 for AJ) but now AJ’s a Dodger and Norf’s back to being a fourth outfielder. In their place is Cameron Maybin, the former prodigy who was acquired for relief pitching depth.

Two wins is a lot to ask of Maybin, as he’s never been worth more than one in a season, but he’s never had more than 322 plate appearances in a season either. This year, in San Diego, he’s going to be the man. He’s still got a ways to go offensively, and PETCO won’t help him, but AJ was an automatic out and he did alright. Center field’s a defensive position and if Maybin can accelerate that part of his game, he might be able to reach my expectations. And if not, I guess there’s always Inspector Clouseau.

Right field

2010 total: 2.5 wins

2011 expectation: 3 wins

Will Venable seems to be a player perpetually on the verge of breaking out. He’s got a great combination of speed and power, with a half-decent eye to boot. Unfortunately, he strikes out like crazy and that cuts the legs out from under his stats, if only partially. If he can start making better contact, and work on being a bit more consistent from week to week, Venable will have a great bat to pair with his already impressive glove.

But let’s start small. Let’s go for 3 wins in 2011.

Catcher

2010 total: 3.9 wins

2011 expectation: 2.5 wins

At 2.4 wins, Yorvit Torrealba ranked fourth on the Padres offense, behind only Adrian, Headley, and Venable. But an impressive season led to an impressive pay raise and he took his talents to North Texas, leaving young Nick Hundley to become a man. With Gregg Zaun grizzling behind him, it’ll be up to Hundley to carry the position in 2011.

As I’ve been over before, Hundley has an undeservedly bad reputation in Padres circles. No one will ever mistake him for Brian McCann, but Hundley is the kind of player who won’t do anything to hurt you. As his playing time’s increased, his WAR has along with it, topping out at 1.5 wins last season. Now that he’s set to take over, it’s not outrageous to think that his WAR will inch even closer to 2 this season. With Grizzly Adams backing him up, and pitching in a couple of wins in himself, I see no reason why this team’s catching squad shouldn’t be able to do it’s part in 2011.

So there you have it. I think that comes out to 24 wins, a nice even number (that doesn’t include backups or awful hitting pitchers). If everything goes according to the plan I just laid out, this Padres team should be back in the hunt in 2011. Adrian Gonzalez was a loss, no doubt, but Jed Hoyer did a good job of taking that mountain back down to a molehill.

Posted in statistics | 8 Comments »

The Padres All-Time 25-Man Roster

December 17th, 2010 by

Any Fangraphs junkies out there may have noticed the site recently added a Multiple Season filter to their stats section. With this, I thought I’d go through the years and fill out the titular Padres roster using WAR.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect measure. Since UZR only dates back to 2002, all WAR are not created equal back to 1969. Luckily, Baseball Reference uses Total Zone for their defensive stats, which is more even, if less comprehensive, through the decades. Even with these two stats, things weren’t perfect, so with a combination of frog DNA and my own Padres knowledge, I filled in the gaps as best I could. This is the result.

Starters

C: Gene Tenace (1977-80)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez (2006-10)
2B: Mark Loretta (2003-05)
3B: Ken Caminiti (1995-98)
SS: Ozzie Smith (1978-81)
LF: Dave Winfield (1973-80)
CF: Mark Kotsay (2001-03)
RF: Tony Gwynn (1982-2001)

Bench

C: Terry Kennedy (1981-86)
1B: Phil Nevin (1999-2005)
2B: Bip Roberts (1986, 1988-91, 1994-95)
SS: Khalil Greene (2003-08)
LF: Gene Richards (1977-83)
RF: Brian Giles (2003-09)

Rotation

SP: Jake Peavy (2002-09)
SP: Andy Benes (1989-95)
SP: Kevin Brown (1998)
SP: Randy Jones (1973-80)
SP: Andy Ashby (1993-99)

Bullpen

CL: Trevor Hoffman (1993-2008)
SU: Heath Bell (2007-Present)
RP: Goose Gossage (1984-87)
RP: Mark Davis (1987-89, 1993-94)
RP: Scott Linebrink (2003-07)
LR: Eric Show (1981-90)

Now tell me where I’m wrong.

Posted in controversy, statistics | 16 Comments »

BABIP at PETCO

November 30th, 2010 by

Following yesterday’s signing by the Dodgers of Juan Uribe, a conversation broke out on twitter on Uribe’s predecessor, Ryan Theriot, and how he might fit in with the Padres. Comparisons were made to Eckstein, and I suggested that Theriot is a player who benefits greatly from a high BABIP* and wondered out loud if PETCO might take this advantage away from him. Already a below-average hitter (career wRC+: 90), Theriot’s a player who needs every advantage he can get. With his likely joblessness, he seems a potential fit for the Padres. My question is: does PETCO Park hurt a player’s BABIP?

*Here’s how Baseball Prospectus defines BABIP: Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher’s average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher’s defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .300.

Since 2004, when PETCO opened, the stadium has seen an overall BABIP (both offensively and defensively for the Padres) of .282. Away from home, the overall BABIP has been an average .303. Both samples exceed 29,000 at-bats (home: 29,459, away: 30,733).

This comes as little surprise. PETCO has always been a park that punishes hitters. Despite the siren song of its mammoth gaps, the ball just doesn’t land here in San Diego and this is reflected in the stadium’s BABIP. For a player like Theriot, who’s skill set isn’t going to breakthrough PETCO’s problems, maybe this isn’t the place for him.

I anticipate seeing him in a Padres uniform next season.

Posted in Padres 101, statistics | 5 Comments »

Ughwick

November 16th, 2010 by

When Dan Hayes’ reported that Headley’s Super Two status might force the Padres to trade Ryan Ludwick, my first thought was “Oh hell no. Trade Headley.”

Don’t get me wrong, I like Headley fine. I’ll be the first to ring the “pitching and defense” bell, and Headley was as good as it got at third base this year. But Ludwick? He’s no slouch himself (career UZR/150 of 5.1 round the outfield) and he’s the team’s only legit middle of the order hitter other than Adrian. If we move Ludwick, who’s going to hit cleanup?

The better question is why we think Ludwick should hit cleanup hitter himself.

In 2008, Ludwick made a name for himself by hitting 37 home runs but he’s hit 39 total over the past two seasons. Despite his 154 in 08, Ludwick has a career wRC+ of 117 and Bill James projects a 115 for him in 2011. And he’ll likely make in excess of $7 million next year.

Ludwick’s been a starter for four years and throwing out his yet to be duplicated 2008, he’s been a 2-win player. Last year, Headley was somewhere between a 3.7 and a 4.6-win player, depending on if you prefer Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs’ numbers. In 1,675 plate appearances, Headley’s only hit 32 home runs and while he plans on hitting the gym this winter, even if he doesn’t, his glove should still provide enough value to this team to make him a keeper.

It’s easy to look at these Padres and think that something needs to be done about the offense, but they weren’t that bad offensively last year. Though it ranked 20th in the league, the team’s wRC+ was a respectable 97. They fell apart in September (82 wRC+), and Headley was especially awful (58 wRC+), but that likely speaks more to conditioning and depth that it does talent and ability. With the exception of Tejada and Torrealba, the team will be bringing back all of the same hitters worth bringing back and hopefully that means more of the same.

In fairness to Ludwick, he was never who we expected him to be. He’s not the -0.3-win Ughwick we saw in August and September, but he’s not someone who will scare pitchers into giving Adrian some fastballs. The potential is there (he hit 18 home runs away from Busch Stadium last year) but while Maybin is a low-risk roll of the dice, Ludwick has $7 million riding on his. With only $10 million available to fill holes at second, short, in the rotation and on the bench, is the smarter risk to go into the crevasse, opening a hole in left to better fill all the others?

Probably. But I’ll defer to Jed on this one.

UPDATE: According to Jeff Fletcher, the Padres will offer Ludwick arbitration. Here we go.

Posted in hot stove, players, statistics | 5 Comments »

Nick Hundley is not your enemy

November 10th, 2010 by

Dan Hayes reported today that the Padres brass is ready to take the training wheels off of Nick Hundley and anoint him the starting catcher for 2011. This comes a week after Yorvit Torrealba declined his half of his mutual option, breaking up the dynamic duo who gave the Padres their most productive year from the catcher’s spot since Mike Piazza and Josh Bard went off in 2006. This’ll be Hundley’s first year in the starring role and the tone around Padresland could best be described as nonplussed but worry not, Hundley’s good. Well, he’s not bad. Let me explain.

First, let’s get this out of the way: catcher is the hardest position on the field to play. In his defensive spectrum, Bill James ranked it ninth, only ahead of the pitcher’s spot, in difficulty. The catcher is not only asked to stay in a crouched position for nine innings while enduring 90 mph foul tips and the potential steamroll, but he has to take a more cerebral role. Why don’t I just let Bud Black break it down, or at least break down what it is he thinks Hundley does right:

“I saw strides this year in his overall handling of the pitchers, handling of the game, and keeping the focus throughout the game,” manager Bud Black said.

“Just his overall in-game awareness, I saw progress. He really made strides on defensive end. I thought he threw better, much more under control and with accuracy.”

Oh yeah, the catcher also has to deal with the base running aspect of the game. Hundley’s .293 CS% would rank him fifth among qualified catchers (out of 13) and is a personal best. But then, who cares? If your beef with Hundley is because you don’t think he makes a good backstop, I’m not sure I can sway your opinion. But if you’re upset over questions concerning the Padres offense and see Hundley as another problem, keep reading.

This season, Hundley finished the year with a wRC+ of 99, which is down one point from his 100 in 2009. For those who don’t know, that makes Hundley incredibly average but consistently so. Of all catchers with 300 plate appearances, Hundley’s 99 was good for 15th out of 29, again pretty average. He was well below the Mauers and Poseys of the league but well ahead of the Kendalls and Bengie Molinas. He was below Torrealba (107 wRC+, 12th in the league) but keep in mind that Torrealba had a career year this season, at age 32. His career wRC+ of 85 is below Hundley’s 93. Again, something to keep in mind if you find yourself getting upset that the team let Torrealba slip away (assuming that they do).

More to my point, of the 17 players who received 100 at-bats from the Padres, Hundley’s 99 was good for ninth. Is this guy good at hitting the middle or what? His WAR of 1.5 also ranked the same. Hundley’s no Adrian, he’s not even Chase Headley, but he has more in common with Chase than he does with Everth Cabrera or Scott Hairston or some of the real holes this 2010 squad had. Jed Hoyer has his work cut out for him if he’s going to repeat this year’s 90-win success story. He’s got holes up the middle and Ryan Ludwick is going to have to do much better than he did after coming over from St. Louis, but Hundley will make Jed’s job easier. Leave him alone and he’ll do well to not mess things up.

It might not be the greatest of praise but for a team with the Sisyphean nature that this club has, it’ll do. Or, at least, it should.

Posted in players, statistics | 2 Comments »

The Top 10 Padres of ’10: No. 09

October 29th, 2010 by

Ray’s note: Sorry about the delay in updating. Technical difficulties.

09. Tony Gwynn, Jr., CF

10. Tim Stauffer, RP/SP

From the acclaimed filmmakers who brought you Stauffer: The Last Honest Man” comes a heartbreaking story of the gifts and the curses that fathers past down to their sons.

In the sleepy town of San Diego, Tony Gwynn was a king. Honest and just, he ruled over his kingdom with a fair hand. He loved his people and in return they loved him. After years of loyal service, King Tony stepped down to devote his time to the youth of his community, leaving his kingdom in a state of flux. His son, Prince Tony, was away at school and his birthright waited. And waited. After school, the Prince took time to see the world, escaping to the great land of Milwaukee before returning to San Diego.

As humble as his father, the Prince refused to be handed the keys, choosing instead to work for them. He excelled in ways his father never had but he failed in the ways his father had built his legend on and the people of the land had trouble embracing the young Prince’s style.

Coming this winter, “In the Shadow of My Father: The Tony Gwynn, Jr. Story”

That really got away from me, but the point stands. AJ will always be his father’s son and his legacy will always be tied directly to his father. I always thought it was strange that the children of legends would even consider following in the parent’s footsteps but I suppose growing up in a life makes you grow a little fond of it. But what happens if your best turns out to be great but not great enough?

If you see your uncles next month round the Thanksgiving table and you tell them how great Tony, Sr. is, they’ll probably tell you that you’re being condescending. But if you tell them how great Tony, Jr. is, you’ll get a better conversation going.

AJ is a career .244 hitter, ninety-four points lower than his father’s .336. The younger’s career .291 is not only eight points lower than his father’s .371, but it’s much lower than the average .333. He’s not a good hitter. It’d probably be charitable to call him a bad hitter. But my goodness, can he play centerfield.

I’m not even going to bother to show you AJ’s offensive statistics from this past year. Trust me when I say that they’re incredibly bad, but trust me when I say that they don’t matter too much. Remember this number: 12.9. That’s how many defensive runs AJ saved above-average in 2010. For all center fielders, 12.9 was the third best mark in the league. And for a pitching staff that was middle of the road, all things considered, it may have been even more valuable.

If you didn’t know, UZR isn’t perfect. AJ’s standing as a great defender isn’t written in stone, not yet at least. But the fact remains that Tony Gwynn, Jr. has saved 18.5 runs above average in 1,842 innings in centerfield, and he brought a reliability to the most important position. Remember Chris Denorfia in center? Remember his diving attempts, few of which actually ended in catches? How’d he make you feel out there? And how did AJ make you feel? As a basement nerd, I’m supposed to ignore the visceral aspects of baseball–but I’m rebelling. Sometimes, how you feel matters. I might call Darren Balsley and get his opinion on that. But I digress.

AJ is not his father. He may have the name and his number may only be one away, but there’s only one Tony Gwynn, Sr. But for me, I want you to tell your uncle that’s all right. Tell him to trust me.

Posted in awards, players, statistics | 2 Comments »

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