15 September 2014

Postseason Roster Crunch: On Chris Davis, Kelly Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, and Expanded Roles

Photo by Keith Allison
This is not how this post was supposed to go. I was planning on looking at whether Kelly Johnson or Jimmy Paredes would grab the final postseason roster spot as a bench player that would receive little playing time. And then, the Chris Davis suspension happened. The purpose of this post isn’t to offer thoughts on Davis' character, of which there’s already plenty of out there (many of them awful). Jayson Stark has written the most thoughtful piece I’ve seen.  

Over the weekend, Nate touched on the fact that the Davis suspension will mean more playing time for Kelly Johnson. Without being redundant, I wanted to look at how the suspension impacts the postseason roster, including Johnson, but also Jimmy Paredes and others in the path of this ripple effect.

To start, here’s a look at the offensive production, via wRC+, of Davis, Johnson, and Paredes.

Sample sizes: Davis 525/2842, Johnson 270/4444, Paredes 36/432. Obviously Parades' seemingly impressive production this year is from just 36 plate appearances, a pretty meaningless sample size.

Chris Davis, even with his struggles at the plate this year, is still the best option at 3B in terms of offense. While Johnson had a decent year last season for the Rays, he has provided below average offensive production 4 of the last 6 season. Paredes, while still just 25, has been 34% below league average offensive production in his 432 PA's. Paredes, the Astros 7th ranked prospect in 2011, has shown decent offensive promise  in the minors that he's yet to translate to big league success. So, the Orioles lost their best offensive option at 3B, but as Matt pointed out, it's not as devastating a loss for the lineup as it would have been last season.

The good news is that no loss at 3B could be as devastating defensively as the loss of Manny Machado. Here's how each player stacks up in terms of career UZR/150 at 3B as well as overall defensively. 

Sample sizes: Davis 734.2, Johnson 454.0, Paredes 464.2. None of these guys have enough innings at 3B to make definitive statements based off of their UZR. However, aside from scouting all 3, it's still the best metric to use.

No one who has watched Chris Davis play 3B is surprised by his miserable UZR/150 numbers. There's a reason the Orioles only played him there when it became a necessity. Johnson is a versatile fielder but not remarkable at any one position. While his defense isn't going to remind you of Machado, he's far from a liability at the hot corner. Paredes is a bit of a wild card in the field, as he's spent his career being tried at different positions, particularly during his time in the Astros organization. Scouting wise, his arm and instincts are considered fine for 3B, but his footwork has been questioned and he's inconsistent with the glove. Paredes' glove is likely an upgrade over Davis, but Johnson provides the steadiest option for the Orioles. 

So, like Nate, I expect Johnson to receive most of the playing time at 3B. The suspension likely allows room for Paredes to make the postseason roster. The Orioles do have other options, such as Alexi Casilla, but seeing as he's not on the current roster, I find it hard to believe he's being seriously considered. Buster Olney tweeted about Christian Walker possibly grabbing a roster spot as a result of the Davis suspension. I don't see this as a realistic possibility. Steve Pearce will play 1B and Flaherty will serve as the backup there. Adding Walker would limit roster flexibility and also ensure that the Orioles would have to burn one of his options next Spring if he doesn't make the team out of camp. 

Losing Chris Davis, especially the way in which it happened, is unfortunate. But it's not devastating. This team has overcome so much. Matt Wieters and Manny Machado were lost to injury. Ubaldo Jimenez is just lost. But this season has shown that, as one guy goes down, production can arise from the most unexpected places. Let us not forget that Zach Britton only made the roster because he was out of options. Steve Pearce has gone from a man designated for assignment earlier in the year to a key part of the lineup. While I don't necessarily expect heroics from Johnson or Paredes, the loss of Chris Davis is not a devastating blow to the Orioles postseason chances.


Kpjm said...

I think we need to give some credit to the front office here. Certainly all their moves have not been perfect, but the late moves to add depth to the roster certainly are paying dividends and softening the blow of the losses of Machado and Davis.

Pat Holden said...

I agree with that, Kpjm.

Cipher said...

I think the last series withe Yankees is telling. Big lead in the East, they could have gone south on the Davis news. But, like earlier this season after key osses, someone stepped up.

I look for this tocontinue...

Anonymous said...

Am I correct that Davis cannot be on a post-season roster unless we play a man short while he is suspended? If so, naturally he won't be on the div roster. In fact, playing a man short for at least three games seems to me to guarantee he won't be on the ALCS roster either, barring an injury that allowed the team to promote him post suspension. That leaves the WS. I think it very possible the team, obviously hot enough to have gotten to the WS, would have serious qualms about messing up a good thing and promoting the rusty player to the roster even then.