I’ve got a few things on my mind this morning. First off, I’m reorganizing the categories of this here blog, trying to put some of those information architecture skills I learned at my last job to use. Among other things, I’m discovering that it’s a lot harder to organize your own stuff than someone else’s.
Anyway, in the process of doing this, I’ve rediscovered a few ancient posts. One of them (pardon the ugly tables) discusses the limitations in using statistics to evaluate prospects.
I’m thinking of Matt Antonelli and the fact that he’s fallen off a few radar screens because of his poor showing at Portland this year. Not that Antonelli is the same type of player, but I wonder how many folks had given up on Mike Cameron at age 22, before he ever reached Triple-A, based on his career line of .243/.330/.361 to that point?
Again, we’re not comparing Antonelli and Cameron as players. We’re only using them to demonstrate that one season doesn’t always tell us enough about a player.
It makes no more sense now to call Antonelli a bust based on his 2008 performance than it did last year to anoint him a future star based on his 2007 performance. The truth remains somewhere in the middle, although we don’t know exactly where.
What’s Your Position?
I’ve also been thinking about the Padres’ offensive strengths and weaknesses. One of the most surprising aspects of this year’s team is that center field has turned out to be a position of strength. In fact, relative to league, it’s been the position of greatest strength, which is just bizarre given the whole Jim Edmonds debacle.
This got me to wondering how the offense has performed by position over the past few years. Thanks to Baseball-Reference and its handy sOPS+ stat, which measures OPS for a split relative to the major league OPS for that split, we can have ourselves a little look:
|Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are through games of September 23, 2008.|
A few things jump out at me:
- Since the departure of Gary Bennett, the Padres have gotten remarkable production from their catchers — mostly Ramon Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and Josh Bard,with a little Miguel Olivo thrown in for good measure. This year, of course, they’ve gotten nothing. Nick Hundley and either Luke Carlin or some free-agent veteran (and there are some decent backup catcher options) figure to improve on that. At worst, they should get the club back to Bennett levels; yes, this is damning with faint praise, but the Padres did have a 69 sOPS+ at catcher in 2003, which sounds pretty good right about now.
- Second base has been a black hole since Mark Loretta’s MVP caliber season. Josh Barfield provided a little spark in ’06, but the last two years have been brutal. That the Padres managed to do worse this season than Marcus Giles boggles the imagination.
- Third base still isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. With Kevin Kouzmanoff manning the hot corner and Chase Headley at the ready should the Padres decide to move Kouz to, say, the Twins for some starting pitching, the days of Sean Burroughs, Joe Randa, Vinny Castilla, and Mark Bellhorn appear to be well behind us.
- The two best center field performances came when Cameron wasn’t here. How is that even possible? Well, Dave Roberts had a career year in ’05, while Jody Gerut, Scott Hairston (.305/.341/.609 in 186 PA as CF), and Will Venable all have played above expectations in ’08.
Center field is a strength. Who knew? That’s why I look stuff up — to keep from sounding stupider than I already am.