Monday, July 13, 2009

Buyer Beware: Matt Holliday

With the Giants offense still chugging along like the little engine that could, many fans have been crying for more offense, of course, not thinking of the consequences of that, which is the number of top prospects we would have to give up to get said stud hitter.

Matt Holliday has been one of the names thrown out, and I was listening to 860, the A's radio station, where they were extolling how good he was previously, and thus teams would ignore what he has done this season, and remember how good he was before joining the A's, how being in a good lineup would cure his ills, plus maybe returning to the NL.

Not Really

I am going to dispell that specious logic and hopefully discourage people from overpaying for Holliday now:

Career-road: .280/.351/.449/.800, with 48 HR in 1467 AB, 31 AB/HR
2009-road: .280/.374/.402/.776, with 4 HR in 164 AB, 41 AB/HR
2009-home: .262/.370/.426/.795, with 4 HR in 141 AB, 35 AB/HR

Those all look pretty similar, no? His numbers in 2009, whether road or home, look like they are within range of what he has produced during his career on the road. Here is his career home (and that includes that bit above in Oakland):

Career-home: .348/.417/.624/1.042, with 88 HR in 1494 AB, 17 AB/HR

Which only goes to show how strong the Coors Stadium effect is on hitters (and negatively so on pitchers). Holliday is a very average hitter who is probably going to earn $15-20M per season with the contract Boras will get him but should only be getting $10-12M per season.

Player Analysis Tip: Look to the Road

This is what I've been advocating here on my site (and everywhere I post) regarding the better way to evaluate hitters and pitchers. This is why I've been putting the kibosh on every talk I see about trading for the Rangers' Hank Blalock, because he's crap outside of their home stadium. Holliday, while not crap, is at best an average hitting corner outfielder outside of Coors Stadium, with his .800 OPS lifetime in the majors outside of Coors. To give you some perspective, Fred Lewis has hit approximately that the past two seasons in SF, which is a neutral stadium that favors flyball pitchers and disadvantages left-handed hitters (though oddly, Lewis, Pablo, and Ishikawa have been much better at home so far and Schierholtz slightly better at home; that would explain our great home record and poor road record).

The thing is, a players career stats over emphasizes their home stats relative to their road stats. It would be like taking a poll of 100 people, where over half of them are Americans, and saying that the survey results represents the feelings worldwide, when Americans represent maybe 5% of the world's population. Yet I have seen some sabers not get this and argue that it is real data and must be included.

Ideally, yes, for better analysis, you would include his home stats with his road stats, using a portion of his home numbers, so that his career numbers is not overweighted with his home stats. But that is complicated to do and not easily obtainable from looking at his career splits stats.

This is like the case of OPS vs. OBPxSLG. Ideally, OBPxSLG is the number you compare hitters with, but OPS, by simply adding OBP to SLG, is an easy way to visually obtain a comparable measure for comparison. That same concept, I believe, applies to using a players road stats to compare with other players, for a rough idea of their comparability. This works for both hitters stadiums like Coors, and severe pitchers stadiums like Dodger Stadium and Petco. Then one can see that Blalock and Holliday are not really as good a hitter as they appear via their career stats and Chan Ho Park and Jeff Weaver are not really as good a pitcher as they appear via their career stats.

And you can verify this by looking at the players home/road splits for every season. Some players are all over the place, but for the most part, a players road stats don't vary much from what they perform when they move to a more neutral home park. Just check out players who have moved a number of places, like Park and Weaver, and you will see that their road numbers are pretty consistent, and that when they play at a more neutral park, their home numbers will be consistent with their road numbers.

Giants Thoughts

Don't overpay for average players like Holliday who benefited from home parks that boosted their overall career stats greatly. Preferably, I would rather the Giants just play with the cards that they have and not look outside, unless it is one of those trades that Sabean prefers to do, which is to get a player they want with prospects that they don't think are worth keeping. It has worked for the most part over the years.

I think we have prospects we can give opportunities to for all our positions. At 1B, Ishikawa, Bowker, and Guzman are good ones to check out, and if McPherson can ever get off the DL. At 2B, we have Frandsen and Burriss, plus Downs. In the OF, Schierholtz, Bowker, and Lewis, in about that order, plus maybe EME.

The only position I would be OK with the Giants going outside to get a high priced vet for minimal prospects is 2B, if I'm forced to accept one, where, while I would love to give Frandsen a chance, I will understand trying to upgrade there. There is alway 2010 to give Frandsen another chance, it is not like he was the best hitter ever in AAA or the minors, just that he has performed at every level coming up, and that deserves the opportunity to try to do that at the major league level.

2B is the most obvious upgrade, Ishikawa has shown some at 1B, Schierholtz and Bowker some in the OF.

3 comments:

  1. I have been one of those Giants Fans who wanted Holiday. While I still think he is an upgrade to Lewis I see your point that there is a real deanger there of overpaying, Boy do we love to do that, and getting a slight upgrade. What do you think of Vlad as a Free Agent at the end of the season? That is what I have been hoping or most he would be the perfect mentor for Panda. Even though Pablo doesn't look like he needs much help now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It always amazes me how stat heads will ignore the stats when it suits their point. Any current or former Rockie should be judged by their away stats more then their home stats. The Coors field effect is undeniable.

    The last thing we need to do is (probably) overpay to sign an older, oft-injured K machine to take ABs from anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree Martin!

    While Holliday would be an offensive upgrade, the A's are looking to at least get "A" prospects back, or 1st/2nd round picks as they can get that by letting Holliday walk.

    In the Giants system, that equates to Jonathan Sanchez, Henry Sosa, Angel Villalona, Buster Posey, Tim Alderson, Madison Bumgarner, & Rafeal Rodriguez.

    I wouldn't even give up a package of Brandon Crawford & Ehire Adrianza for 2+ months of Holliday.

    The Giants are better suited to wait until the offseason to see if he even wants to play here. At that time, if his cost has dropped enough, as it should actually be less than Aaron Rowand due to the economy, & if they have been able to move enough money around while still saving for paying the pitchers, then look at signing him. Realistically, Holliday never plays in S.F.

    The Giants offense is playing much better and it's not a fluke. They may be best served to wait until the last minute before adding a piece, or wait until August. Even if they stand pat, their staff will keep them in the race to the last day.

    ReplyDelete

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