Braves Dallas Shopping Trip II

Yesterday I ask you to look at the numbers provided and pick your optimal RH bat for the Braves outfield without name bias interference. Let me preface this by saying all of these guys are quality folks and will have above average careers, any choice is good. The object is to find a fit for the Braves current needs that makes long term sense. Now it’s time for the results show, where’s Sam Ryan when I need a co-host? Oh well. . . What was the people’s choice?

Voters were split fairly evenly with player four and player six getting good comments and players two and three getting a nod for OBP in one case and power in another. The voting goes just slightly to player six followed by four. Before I give my choice I’ll tell you how I decided.

The Setup

I compiled the stats over a few days and a few at a time and decided to add a few after I started. I ended up with 30 columns of data,  it’s easy to forget who’s on which row if you hide the data and randomly sort the data on columns.  That’s as close as I can get to a blind choice by myself. That done, I wrote the post and then looked at the numbers alone to make my choice.

I started by looking at all the stats and assigning an importance to them. I stopped at nine that I felt mattered most.  Those turned out to be:

      1. OBP simply because getting on base is the one thing essential to scoring runs. I expect most will agree with that.
      2. SLG  gives an idea how many extra base hits the player produces. Since this is for a corner outfield bat expected to produce runs I felt this was important.
      3. rWAR I used rWAR instead of fWAR for a couple or reasons. First Fangraphs explanation of the two indicates rWAR will usually be the lower and I would rather underestimate than over estimate. Secondly, I really think UZR is a useless stat. I know some folks are groaning but until someone explains why it’s good when Fangraphs says it is neither descriptive of past play or predictive of future play I’ll ignore it.
      4. REW tells me something about a player’s contribution to the team’s victories.
      5. LD% A higher % provides the expectation of more hits and a higher BAbip.
      6. Clutch is an indication of performance under pressure. I know lots think it can’t be measured and is a random  happenstance but having played a lot of different sports my experience tells me some people rise to the occasion while others wilt in the limelight.
      7. HR/FB This player is supposed to be a power bat and that in turn implies home runs. If the player has a high line drive rate and a high fly ball to home run rate he’s likely to produce more home runs.
      8. SoffB (Speed off the bat) In general terms, the harder you hit it the farther it goes unless it’s hit right at someone. This is just a measure of that, an imperfect one I know but a hard stat.
      9. K% I know that power hitters strike out. I’m looking for a relatively low rate given my other requirements.

      Having decided what was important, I went through the rows (names still hidden) color coding each stat from best to (relative) worst. This was mostly to help me in the next step, calculating the value for each player. It also gives an at-a-glance idea of rankings.

      weights

      I assigned a lowest is best scale beginning at 1 and going to 6 since that’s how many players are there. I then added up each row’s importance giving me a total weight or value for each player. The lowest total in this instance would be my  first choice. This is the resultant table.

      As you can see the results are pretty obvious and there’s a rather large separation between first and second choice, a cluster in the middle and one guy way out there at the end of the line. When I opened the hidden names field this is the result I got.

      Player Weighted total
      Nelson Cruz 28
      Nick Swisher 31
      Carlos Quentin 22
      B. J. Upton 38
      Chris Heisey 36
      Adam Jones 34

      My Choice – Player three, Carlos Quentin

      That Carlos Quentin emerged as my choice by a good margin surprises me. If my subjective choice matches the objective choice the spread isn’t usually this large. Logically I suppose, when I make a subjective judgment I subconsciously weigh the same factors I choose when applying objective criteria. Frequently however – more often than I’d like to admit – my gut choice isn’t the answer the weighted choice gives me indicating a subconscious name bias I suppose. That’s why I use this exercise, it keeps me honest. I digress. . .back to your choices.

      Player six, Adam Jones

      I was surprised to see Adam Jones – who subjectively I would have made my second choice – in fourth place by weight. That he was the most mentioned choice by others isn’t a surprise. He’s young and in spite of low OBP has a high LD% just had a nice 26 double, 25 home run 85 RBI season – numbers considered corner outfield power – make him a good choice. Subjectively this talented young man will grow and improve quickly in the right environment and putting him alongside Bourn and Heyward for four years is a tantalizing proposition. MJ tweeted that he would be expensive. True, but quite probably worth it because he’s just 25.

      Player four, B. J. Upton

      Upton in an enigma and I think carries a lot of name bias because he and his brother are both talented and hit the big leagues when young with a huge splash. His elegance in the field and on the bases combined with periodic streaks of power and production are easy to love. However, of this group he has the highest K% and FB% with the lowest HR/FB numbers. This means he hits a lot of lazy fly ball outs. I checked and he had only three sac flies all year so most of those fly ball outs were just unproductive outs. My name bias intercedes here and says based on his past behavior, Upton is a likely to provide his team with as much drama as production. That’s something the Braves try to avoid. Of course they lived with Gary Sheffield but that was when Bobby was in charge.

      Everyone else

      Cruz got no love at all. If you knew it was Cruz and recalled his power (and forgot his fielding) that might have changed a bit. Swisher got support for his OBP and is a popular fan choice. I wonder whether the lineup around him makes him look a lot better than he is and if the fact the we have a hitting coach that was unable to help him when he was in Chicago would have a negative effect on his production.  Like Cruz, Swisher is 30 and older than the rest but for three years – if he could be signed for two more – age wouldn’t be an issue.

      I included Chris Heisey because he fit my original stat search- Chris Young did as well but I left him off the list as not available. Heisey is young, has potential and might be a low cost option  if he can improve his plate discipline. His high K%, low OBP and Clutch and his average OPS meant he got no love here however.

      Summary

      My gut choice of Quentin turned out to be my objective choice as well. Two others suggested him as the best fit now but along with others who wrote leaned towards Jones or Upton for one reason or another. Names the average fan might choose – Cruz & Swisher – were mentioned but not chosen as anyone’s first option. How did yours come out?

      A side note: I notice this morning that the Seth Smith rumors are once again surfacing. I see absolutely no reason to consider Smith. To begin with he’s a left handed hitter with bad splits against righties. We have lots of lefty pop. His power more double than homer power and his road numbers aren’t great. I might trade a minor league B level player for him but Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens are worth significantly more. Thanks but no thanks.

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      Tags: Adam Jones B.J. Upton Carlos Quentin Chris Heisey Nelson Cruz Nick Swisher

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