Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lost in the shuffle

52 home runs. And counting.

98 walks. And counting.

An OPS of 1.021. Not a typo.

If you're anything like me (and pray to your God that you aren't), you still can't get past the ridiculous numbers Jose Bautista is putting up. He's the clear cut, no doubt, why bother talking about it MVP of the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays, and there is no debate.

But take a look just down the Jays' leaderboard (I know, it's a deep dark chasm between JoBau and the next), and well now, what do we have here? That would be Vernon Wells having perhaps the quietest season falling somewhere between solid and spectacular in recent memory.

Before the year began, I mused that Vernon might have a season reminiscent of his 2008 campaign in him (It's true! I did so! Look it up!), and it appears that indeed he did:

2008: .300/.343/.496/.840 - 20 HR, 78 RBI
2010: .271/.330/.516/.846 - 30 HR, 83 RBI

While it's the nice juicy round 30 HR figure that catches the eyes (The Manager inclusive, obviously), it's the return of the OPS to the comfortably above average .840ish range that is perhaps most impressive statistical development.

(side note - I'll let the more advanced of you commenters discuss defensive metrics - it's an offseason project of mine - so I'll just focus on the offense....OK? OK.)

And maybe it should come as no surprise that Vernon is having the season he is while playing second fiddle to the monster that is Bautista. Vern's never seemed like the lead dog to me, and the weight of The Contract has always been heavy on his shoulders. With the team struggling, the $20M+ paycheque placed the target squarely between the numbers for the centrefielder, and it's difficult to argue that the onslaught of boos affected his play.

(....quick break while we reflect in quiet sympathy for ol' Vernie)

So is Wells back? Can we expect similar numbers for the next few seasons as the franchise inches it's way towards contender status? Difficult to say, and I'm scared to admit which side of that argument I'd lean on - but one thing seems certain: the emerging young (and old) stars on this Jays team should continue to keep the focus off of ol' #10 (and his contract) - and for everyone's sake, that's a good thing.

Random weekend quick-hitters
The talk of improved clubhouse harmony in the post-Halladay era refuses to go away, 150 or so games later, and quite frankly, I'm tired of hearing it. Love you, Blue Jays rotation, but.... enough.

Adam Lind has taken 38 walks.... while striking out 139 times. I didn't realize it was that bad, and now I'm depressed.

Brian Tallet leads all Blue Jay relievers with 74 IP. Brian Tallet has also posted the highest ERA (6.32) among active Blue Jay pitchers. This is not all on the goofy hipster longman. It's his use that's, uh, "confusing" be polite.

... John Buck hit his 20th HR yet?

Do you know what I would do if I was somehow able to attend the Cito Gaston Tribute Night? I'd stand and applaud the man(ager) who delivered two World Series titles to the city of Toronto, and who played a part in providing numerous & immeasurable baseball memories for this supernerdfan.

(Because I'm not really an asshole, y'know. I just sometimes pretend to be one on the internet.)


Darren Priest said...

A while back, I was hoping Wells could get 30/100. Probably won't get the 100, but at least his numbers are good this year. I suppose it's hard to be good enough when you are making more than double what anyone else on your team earns, but seeing as nobody is stepping up to take him off the Jays' books, we should be happy he's putting up better numbers.

SP said...

The 100 RBIs are pure circumstance. It looks nice and purdy but it's just a function of the team's awful OBP. I'm just glad he's back to hitting HRs. I know the experts say it's a myth but I think the "protection" theory applies to Vernon. He just seems to play better when there are legit power hitters around him in the lineup.

As for his D, I don't think there is such a thing as experts in defensive metrics. Even the people who came up with them admit to flaws and tweak them regularly. FWIW, he is -4.6 in UZR including -6.1 in the range part of UZR. Total Zone has him at -6 also. That doesn't mesh with the big improvement I saw throughout the year compared to last year but that's just me.

Also worth noting is that with his 3.8 WAR, he has put up $15.4 worth of value this season. Just $75 million to go!

SP said...

Correction, $83m to go out of the $126 total. He has already earned $22.2m of it from 08 through this year. If he averages 2.5 WAR over the 4 years left, that would be $40m more earned so he'd end up earning about 62/126. Half value ain't bad for the Worst Contract Everz, right?? OK fine, it's awful.

Darren Priest said...

I realize a player can't directly influence his RBI opportunities, but there has to be something to it -- unless batting order means absolutely nothing. Maybe that's true; I admit I rarely want to bring any form of math into my pastimes.

Also, I think clubhouse juju is real, so I am way out there in magical crystal land according to most baseball blogger types. Because sitting between Albert Belle and David Wells would never affect anyone negatively, right?

Mylegacy said...

To me Wells still looks mostly lost with the bat. However, every now and then he pulls a scorching line drive homer. So far this year - about 30 times.

SP said...

And 41 doubles. He does swing a lot but for someone who does, he has a pretty low K%--much below the league average. He also gets knocked for swinging at the first pitch so much but look at the results:

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

To me, Mylegacy still looks mostly lost with his comments.

Vernon did his job this season. You want to blame someone? Blame Aaron Hill, and Adam Lind. And Cito. Vernon's been solid. He earned his, what, $12 M this season. I pray he keeps it up next year.

Buck's going to hit #20 next Sunday, on October 3. After that, JPA will get his chance. What? The season's over? Oh, shit.

I'll be applauding Cito on your behalf Wednesday night, mate.

Mark said...

It's worth pointing out that Lind isn't doing half bad against RHP (818 OPS), but he's been awful against LHP. Awful might not even be strong enough. He's never really been good against them outside of 09, and even then he wasn't great. It'd help the Jays a lot next year if they could find a RH hitting backup to give Lind some time off against lefties.

I don't know if I'd directly credit Bautista for Wells' resurgence. It makes for a good story, but going back to April Bautista had a 741 OPS while Wells had a 1.113 OPS, where the bulk of his good numbers came from. From that point on his OPS by month goes: 822, 781, 637, 742 and 986. So he went through a 3 month stretch where he didn't bother to show up offensively.

Like you said, it's tough to judge what Wells will do next year. I got no idea what to expect out of him.

peteybrigade said...

I was thinking about Vernon's season this morning: a check on baseball-reference shows him having the best offensive season (measured by OPS+ and OPS) of any American league centre-fielder, and sixth best offensive season amongst all outfielders. So while yes, he may have been inconsistent, there's no denying he's providing overall offensive production that puts him in the top tier of American League outfielders.

D.J. Jazzy said...

Fuck Roy Halladay.

EC said...

I am finaly going to a Jays game on Wednesday. I will be applauding Cito. Although I can't wait to turn the page on the Cito era. It will be kind of sad at the same time. I was at game 6 in '93 when Joe hit that homerun and though up until the last couple of years have been too busy with life to pay too much attentions to my favourite professional team. The last 2 years I have gone a little overboard watching or listening to about everygame and really do love this team. Sometimes they frustrate me but they are so entertaining.
I can't wait until next year. I am looking forward to seeing what AA will do this off season.
Go Jays and Cito, Thanks for everything.

Anonymous said...

GOD DAMN Mother F'N Sportsnet 1. I can't even enjoy a Sunday afternoon game for F's sakes. And you know what's going to happen next summer when all of the cable providers have picked up SN1. Roger's will move all the Jays games to their new national channel Sportsnet 2! Don't think it's not coming...

Gil Fisher said...

He's never really been good against them outside of 09

well outside of 09, he's never really had a regular gig, except in the minors - where he was just fine against lefties.

If Cito really changed his approach this year to be more of a pull hitter, I could see that being a problem against lefties.

tdotsports1 said...

Unreal season... Hope he continues next year (35 HRs?)

Anonymous said...

"Brian Tallet leads all relievers with 74 IP...."

That's not true. Tallet's pitched 48 IP out of the pen. Five other relievers have pitched more.

You're including his work as a starter to open the year. Which is just dumb.

The Ack said...

This is true. I admitted the oversight over on the twitter & should have done so here. Apologies.