Last August my brother and I went to a Royals game (they lost, shocking) in which Yuniesky Betancourt made three really outstanding defensive plays. My brother left convinced that Betancourt was one of the better shortstops in the league no matter what his UZR was. It is of course the old eyes versus stats debate. And before you commence with the Hey Jeff welcome to three years ago comments just hear me out. Readers of this blog know I am not into the newer stats (save for OPS+ and ERA+) but that doesn’t mean I dismiss them (even though my favorite player of all time had a career 79 OPS+). I think they can be a very valuable tool when evaluating potential acquisitions and current personnel and if I was the GM of a team I would use every resource available into putting the most productive roster I could afford onto the field.
There is an interesting piece up at Royals Review comparing four similar moves by Dayton Moore and Jack Zduriencik (AKA Jack Z for obvious reasons). It’s a good read and it shows why one franchise may enter 2010 as divisional favorites and why the other will once again flounder. Jack Z it seems trusts the stats, Moore trusts his eyes. It hasn’t worked out so well for Dayton but rather than change his mindset he changed the process and the early returns aren’t promising. Moore seems stuck in the 1980’s and I can imagine him thinking, “Let’s see the 1985 Royals had a .313 OBP, we can do that. Hey the 1985 Royals had a 34 year old catcher, who hit .245/.308/.381, I’m sure I can find one of those”.
Unfortunately he did but this isn’t about Jason Kendall (.240/.320/.313 last three seasons), it’s about Moore and his stubborn refusal to trust the stats. OBP is probably my favorite offensive statistic and Moore fails quite spectacularly when it comes to acquiring guys who are above league average. Bert Callaspo is the outlier when it comes to this discussion but Moore has made no secret of his desire to trade him and hand his position to a lesser offensive talent. And OBP isn’t some sort of newfangled stat invented in the last couple years by a computer program, it’s been around awhile.
Here are a few Moore guys from the 2009 roster and their OBP’s before they joined the Royals and their OBP as a Royal:
Jacobs - .318/.297
Guillen – .325/.305
Bloomquist – .322/.308
Crisp – .331/.336
Olivo - .275/.286
Betancourt - .302/.269
Is it a wonder why the offense was so bad? They ranked 13th in OBP and amazingly 13th in runs, it’s almost as if there is some sort of correlation. Now Jacobs, Crisp, and Olivo are thankfully gone and Guillen has just one year remaining so we soon will see if Moore has learned anything when he goes about replacing them.
Kings of Kauffman, which is always full of quality content, has a post up defending Allard Baird's reign as GM. It is a very interesting take and one I agree with 100%.