As part of the book-writing process, I’m going through pretty much everything that we’ve covered here at Ducksnorts over the past year or so. One question we asked last November was whether Brian Giles‘ 2006 was a blip or the beginning of a slide.
Among other things, we looked at a slew of historical comps for Giles and found that most of the guys who continued to play didn’t experience further catastrophic decline. There were a couple notable exceptions (Fred Lynn, Ray Lankford) that haunt Padres fans in particular, but in general, we were looking at a group of players that didn’t fall off the proverbial cliff at age 36.
Thankfully, Giles didn’t go Lynn or Lankford on us. He ended up more-or-less duplicating his ’06 season, with fewer walks and more power. I have concerns about the former (his BB/K ratio went from “freakish” to merely “real good”), but overall Giles’ game didn’t deteriorate — especially when you consider that he played much of the year hurt.
One of the other comps we mentioned was Moises Alou. Although he didn’t show up on Baseball-Reference’s list of similar players for Giles last year, he had in previous seasons. Well, he’s back at #8 on Giles’ list through age 36.
I like the Alou comp for a few reasons. First, he experienced a severe drop in power at age 35. Second, although his plate discipline slipped a shade, it never disappeared. Third, Alou made some gains in the power department at age 36 — they were larger than Giles’ last year, but the point remains that the apparent decline was abated in both cases.
Of course, part of my fascination with Alou stems from a hope that Giles will follow a similar path. From age 37-40, Alou has been a dangerous, if not always available, offensive weapon. It’s nice to think that maybe Giles has that in him as well.
If you look at what Giles’ other comps did from age 37 onward, you’ll see that Alou isn’t the only data point working in his favor. Bob Johnson enjoyed three more fruitful seasons, although that was in the ’40s and the game has changed a lot since then. Reggie Smith and Ellis Burks each had one more good year in them, with Burks kicking around a little after that.
Not everyone rebounded. Tim Salmon did, sort of, but only after missing a season due to injury. And even then, he played just the one year in a limited role. Kind of like Lankford, come to think of it. We’ve talked about Lynn. Dante Bichette? I don’t even know why he’s on this list; I can’t think of a less similar hitter, so we’ll ignore him. Paul O’Neill posted some nice counting numbers because he was surrounded by greatness. David Justice retired. We don’t know about Ryan Klesko, but given that he’s now a .260 hitter with no power, I don’t like his chances.
The other point to remember, and forgive me if I sound like a broken record, is that these are just statistical comparisons. This is just one tool we can use to evaluate players and examine possible paths their careers might follow. We can’t look at Giles and Alou, and extrapolate based on the fact that their records are similar in many respects. We can’t point to Alou and use him as an argument that Giles will elevate his game. The best we can do is note that this sort of thing has happened in the past and it might happen again.
You know all this already, but I have to say it anyway…
- Saguaros 16, Team China (box | recap). This one ended via mercy rule after seven innings. The Saguaros reached double digits in runs for the second straight game. Matt Antonelli, batting seventh, doubled in four at-bats. Nick Hundley got the start at DH and went 1-for-4. Will Startup threw a seven-pitch perfect sixth, while Jonathan Ellis allowed a single in his scoreless seventh.
- Navojoa 9, Guasave 6 (box). Oscar Robles doubled and walked in five trips to the plate. Luis Cruz, playing third base, doubled and singled in five at-bats. Between them, they drove in five of their team’s nine runs.
- Magallanes 4, Caracas 3 (box). Paul Abraham allowed one run on three hits and a walk in an inning and a third. That was enough to get hung with the loss.
It keeps raining in the Dominican Republic.