Monday, November 20, 2006

Sheriff Ned to the Rescue: Part II

Whew, the Giants dodged a bullet today, as the D-gers outbid us for the services for one Juan Pierre, speedster extraordinaire but hitter very ordinaire, maybe not even that. In this newsbrief at ESPN, sources say that Pierre signed a 5 year contract for about $45M, pending a physical, with the D-gers and Sheriff Ned. Apparently the Giants were in the bidding for his services and had offered 4 years at $32-34M, significantly below the D-gers offer, but still a bit out there at $8M+ per season for a hitter who is likely to be a below average OBP hitter, particularly hitting in D-ger Stadium, one of the premier pitchers parks in the majors.

Thanks Ned!

Half his games in LA:

Dodger Stadium: .281/.333/.331/.664, 0 HR in 139 career AB.

Some Pierre-de-amor love his lack of strikeouts, and avoiding strikeouts is an important skill to have. Stats that Baseball Forecaster has published shows that the more strikeouts a batter has, the lower his batting average tends to be, on average. From 2001-2005, batters who strike out over 40% of the AB are below the Medonza line on average while batters who strike out as few as Pierre (under 10%), on average had batting averages that were in the 280-290 range. At 15-19%, where Feliz lives, on average hitters hit about 270, on average, as constrast.

However, a hitter with a low walk rate to match his low strikeout rate tends to also hit poorly, that's where Pierre starts to show where his low strikeout rate doesn't pay off. Looking at the data table, clearly, if you cannot walk over 10% of the time, while it still matters that you can strikeout less times, you don't hit as highly as others who strike out few times. If a batter strikes out 14% or less (Pierre), but walks under 10% (Pierre), on average they hit in the .270-.279 range, whereas if he is good enough to take walks at 11% and over, he's on average a .300 hitter.
So Pierre, while he may be a .300 hitter career, his hitting skill doesn't reflect that and was boosted, as noted, by his time in Colorado when the balls was still hopping out, not like today. Taking out Coors from his overall stats, he is a .296/.338/.373/.710 hitter. Batters who hit like Pierre does in terms of walks and strikeouts tend to be .270 hitters, with the caveat that that is the average, he might very well be the high end of a very wide spectrum. But add to that Dodger Stadium as his home park for the next 5 seasons, and you are potentially staring at 5 seasons of Feliz-esque OBP, in the .300-.310 range, leading off for their LA Dodgers. But even if not, the good news is that in the past two seasons, his OBP has been subpar, at .326 and .330, the past two seasons, particularly in 2006, when the average CF had an OBP of .348 vs. his .330.

Leading Off: How Low Can You Go?

Even if he is able to maintain a .333 OBP that he had in D-ger Stadium, which is possible, his career road stats is .290/.336/.369/.705, that basically would put the D-gers 10th or 11th in the NL in 2006 in terms of OBP. However, he also hits for no power, particularly in LA, so his SLG would be around .350, if you average his road with his LA stats, for a .680's OPS, which would put them dead last or next to last in the NL last season: Houston was 15th with .689 OPS and Milwaukee was last with .684 OPS. So, even if he continues to play at his career norms for LA and the road, his OPS would be basically last in the NL and OBP would be in the lower half of the NL.

However, as I've shown, his batting average has been higher than the norm for batter who don't walk much, like him. So he might slip in batting average while in LA, as his luck may run out, which would reduce his OBP and his OPS and it doesn't take much to drop him to last in OPS and LA drops to 12th if his OPS is under .329 in 2006, 13th if it drops under .317, 15th if it drops under .314, and last if it drops under .311. So their offense already suffers with him leading off, but if he proceeds to do worse in LA, then the suffering would get even worse.

Substandard SB rate

Add to that his abominable stolen base success rate: 73% for his career, 72% over the past three seasons, i.e. he hasn't learned anything during that time. Good base stealers typically have a stolen success percentage above 80% and ideally over 85%, if you are going to break even on the outs you make and rallies you kill. Thus, not only will he kill the offense by getting on base less than most lead-off men, the relatively few times he does get on base, he's going to kill the offense by getting thrown out around 27% of the time.

So Congratulations LA on killing your offense by replacing JD Drew with Juan Pierre thus far. And thanks Sheriff Ned for saving the day for Giants fans! Now if only you would sign Gary Matthews too, and that would be all set for us Giants fans.

Colletti's Gone

One thing Giants fans have to remember is that this is Sabean's first real season figuring out salaries and bidding on his own: Colletti was the one who used to handle all that for him before he took off for LA. So if the Pierre salary looks familiar, that's because Colletti most probably is doing his old job for the Dodgers, calculating the salaries and handling the offers.

Hopefully Sabean and his staff have been learning something different from what Colletti had been using, because, clearly, from Giants fans viewpoint, there has been a lot left to desire in the Giants pricing of salaries and contracts over the past few years. At least the Giants offer was significantly below the Dodger's "winning" offer.

It's probably assuming too much, but I also hope Sabean was pursuing Pierre because he knew that Ned was hot after him and wanted to bid up the salary for him. Gamemanship like that I can dig, particularly against an NL West opponent. OK, it probably is hoping too much, but a guy can dream, can't he? :^D

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