25 July 2012

Wilson Betemit + Mark Reynolds = Albert Pujols

Neither Wilson Betemit or Mark Reynolds is Albert Pujols.  In no way can you make them into Albert Pujols, but it is possible to put them in the best position possible to make them April-through-July-2012 Albert Pujols.


Betemit and Reynolds are really platoon players to varying degrees.  Betemit is an extreme platoon player.  His wOBA is split .358 against righties and .226 against lefties.  Mark Reynolds carries a .287 wOBA against righties and a .390 wOBA against lefties.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with wOBA...think of a .330 mark as about average.

If you platoon the two of them, shielding each other from their handed weaknesses, they wind up as a .366 wOBA first baseman.  If you are someone who enjoys the basic slash line, it would be 284/365/490.  Or if you are more old school: 42 doubles and 27 home runs over 700 plate appearances.

How does that match up against other first basemen according to FanGraphs?

Rank Name Team wOBA
1 Joey Votto Reds .444
2 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays .415
3 Paul Konerko White Sox .395
4 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks .390
5 Prince Fielder Tigers .376
6 Adam Dunn White Sox .363
7 Mark Teixeira Yankees .362
8 Albert Pujols Angels .354
9 Corey Hart Brewers .343
10 Adam LaRoche Nationals .341
With a .366 mark, you have the 6th best offensive 1B in baseball instead of having a .311 wOBA at 1B and a .322 mark at third to go along with atrocious defense.  As I have them projected right now, Reynolds will have a 0.0 WAR for the remainder of the season at first.  Meanwhile, Betemit will have a 0.5 WAR at third.  A .366 mark would be worth 1.5 to 2 WAR depending on whether their defense is bad or just mediocre.

The problem then becomes how to find a sufficient third baseman.  The Phillies' Placido Polanco has been mentioned as a trade target.  His .277 wOBA and good (not great) defensive puts him in line to pick up maybe 0.3 to 0.5 WAR the rest of the year.  Maximizing Betemit and Reynolds with the addition of Polanco would be a good for a couple games.  Bigger fish are out there though and if you believe the Orioles have been overachieving...then you want a bigger boat.

The Padres' Chase Headley is a major target for several teams.  He likely has about 2-3 WAR left in his season to earn.  That would give the Orioles a bump of maybe 4 games with the 1B platoon.  The problem with his acquisition is the sheer number of teams the Orioles would have to compete with in getting him in addition to the Orioles' hourglass farm system.  What I mean by that is that the Orioles have two amazing prospects in Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, they lack solid second tier prospects, and then there is a lot of third tier guys.  Chase Headley simply will not go for third tier guys and teams buying low on Brian Matusz or Jake Arrieta.

However, another team might just take a chance: the Marlins.  Hanley Ramirez is having his second poor hitting year in a row.  He also has about 36MM coming to him over the course of the 2013, 2014, and the remainder of the current season.  It is a bit of an overpay when his worth is about league average or slightly below.  In his current state, he is a slight improvement over Wilson Betemit at third base.  His wOBA is just eight points higher at .330 and he rates as an average fielder where Betemit is rated as a poor fielder.  Hanley is also only a couple seasons from being one of the best hitters in baseball.  It seems that the baseline is livable and the potential is great.  If the Orioles took on Hanley's entire salary to install him at third, the Marlins may bite for Arrieta, Schoop, and a low minors power arm.  Maybe that is only a starting bid, I do not know.  What I do know is that would put the Orioles in a position that is about 30 runs better than they currently are at.

I don't know about you, but I would be pretty happy with the Orioles having Albert Pujols at first base and Hanley Ramirez at third base.


Charmcitychampion said...

I hope they get H. Ramirez and Grienke. I feel that gives them a legitimate shot at the first wild card. As well as puts them in position to attract a bigger free agent in the offseason.

Jon Shepherd said...

One of the sad things about scheduling articles is when a portion becomes outdated. HanRam is in Dodgerland, but the idea of a HanRam is still viable. The main point is that the team needs to put Betemit and Reynolds where they can be successful.

Bret said...

Any trades that involve prospects this year need to be off the table. The team is not one player away and the offense can't hit their way out of a wet paper bag. 4 offensive spots are set for next year (C, SS, CF, RF). 3 of the other other 5 should be Machado, Schoop, and Hoes no later than the middle of May. They don't need to be getting Hanley Ramirez to block Machado. Let him start at 3rd and work his way to short, Hardy is too good defensively right now to mess with. That means they need a 1B (who doesn't strike out 40% of the time) and a DH that preferably can play the field once in a while. And before you start pointing out Machado and Schoop's flaws, guess what? They can't be any worse. And if our 3B and 2B aren't going to provide a ton of offense I would rather it be a learning experience where they get growing pains out of the way. Given those 3 will be cheap there should be plenty of money to find good alternatives for the other two positions. I would non-tender every other starting offensive player not named Wieters, Jones, Markakis and Hardy. The Chris Davis experiment needs to end.

Jon Shepherd said...

I am always a fan of being optimistic about prospects, but to expect all three to provide better than replacement level value is a great expectation.

I mean, remember all the wonderful things the calvary was going to accomplish?

Matt P said...

It's worth noting that Pearce has a .398 OBA against lefties. You could use him in the platoon instead of Reynolds. Reynolds has always had a platoon split but he's been solid against righties in the past.

Looks like Hanley netted something like Matusz and a reliever. Our hitting prospects have typically done better than our pitching.

Bret said...

I really am not that optimistic at least initially. However, I would rather put them in and let them learn if the alternative is playing washed up and or extremely flawed players who aren't going to get better. I think Machado can hit enough to be a 2-3 win player next year, that would be an improvement on Betemit. Andino is replacement level this year. So if Schoop is the same Schoop will be learning with vast potential for improvement while Andino won't. Reimold is obviously also in the mix for LF but given his injuries can't count on it, Hoes plate discipline is something they sorely lack. And given an overall negative replacement level from LF this year he has potential to be much better than that. Let's build the team organically, that hasn't been tried since about 1978.

Jon Shepherd said...

I don't trust that Pearce really is that player though...maybe he is.

I think Schoop would be a negative 2 win player right now. MLB is a very tough game.

Bret said...

I'm pretty sure Schoop can exceed a 66 RC+ in the big leagues next season. His is 90 at AA after an atrocious start and a rather low BABIP.

His defense is the question mark and he does have errors but Andino gets more credit than he deserves for defense, 12 errors in 79 games is a lot despite his range. But even if you are right, are the O's going to be 2 wins away from postseason next year? If not development should take precedent and I think negative 2 WAR is an absolute worst case scenario, Reynolds and Chavez aren't that low and they are actively trying to play as poorly as possible.

Jon Shepherd said...

I have difficulty seeing how putting a player in a situation he is not prepared for somehow is going to help development.

I'd let these guys force the issue instead of letting them walk early.

Bret said...

AA is basically as good or better a league than AAA right now. Machado and Schoop aren't dominating but they are holding their own. Obviously with service time implications maybe you start them in AAA next year like Wieters but I don't feel like it is rushing them. Let both play in the AZ fall league.

To dissuade me you are going to have to give me a better option than someone who strikes out in more than 25% of at bats and plays poor defense. And right now those players comprise 5 everyday starters (Andino, Thome, Reynolds, Davis, Betemit - Andino rounded up and obviously Thome doesn't play D).

The FA class is very weak for position players, they will be lucky to upgrade DH or 1B much and there is nothing for 3B or 2B of note and no one better on the 25 man roster.

Jon Shepherd said...

No, AA is not as good or better than AAA. AA likely has many more MLB level prospects, but the level of play is greater in AAA. No comparison really.

The issue in AAA is that top tier talent will get plucked.

Bret said...

That is a very debateable point. AAA has a bunch of veterans that have been up and down, the lion's share of players in the futures game were AA or below. If you look at top prospects Profar, Bundy, Taillon, Cole, Castellanos, Barnes, Machado all are at AA or below. I would say AA has more talent without question, what that means when you factor in experience and age is debateable.

Plus Norfolk is an extreme pitcher's park, no reason to send them there for more than a month. The hardest jump other than MLB is unquestionably A to AA and Machado and Schoop given their ages are performing perfectly fine. You find me someone better I'm all ears, 25% strikeout guys who play awful defense ain't it.

Jon Shepherd said...

I don't see how it is debatable. MLEs are not the most useful thing for individuals, but they work for populations.

You are looking at trees, look at the forest.

Bret said...

AAA has become a place for players who aren't good enough to play in MLB but aren't prospects. I just looked at Keith Law's midseason top 50, fewer than 10 were in AAA. That is a big forest.

The issue also is that you don't want to distort production, that is why Toronto doesn't send pitchers to Las Vegas. Norfolk is the other way, that is why I'm leery of sending hitters there. The ball doesn't carry and can lead to bad habits (Brandon Snyder admitted to this).

Like I said, if you want to send them there to delay FA for a month I'm fine with it but the big minor league jump is A to AA which they have made. AAA has become less and less important over time and it is questionable whether it is even a better league than AA. Hoes for instance is hitting much better in AAA than AA.

Anonymous said...

First of all the influx of new posts has been most enjoyable. For someone who follows the cite since preseason this has been the most frequent posting and I am quite enjoying.

I think machado and schoop deserve atleast half a year at AAA, I am not one for rushing prospects but I am one for trimming the fat, Shipping davis Reynolds and betemit in the off season would make me a very happy person.

@ bret people that are sub par defenders and strike out 25% of the time aren't worth it... Than whats all the fuss over josh Hamilton....

92/338 SO / ABs
5 errors .974 fielding....

Jon Shepherd said...

Again, more prospects in AA, better competition in AAA.

If you have the top 100 prospects in a little league tee ball division, it does not mean that is a highly competitive league.

The base level talent and the average level talent is significantly below AAA.

Bret said...

Still don't understand where your proof is that AAA is better.

Go look at the AAA All Star roster. Dan Johnson is on it. Pedro Florimon is on it. Matt LaPorta is on it. Zach Duke is on it. And I'm not cherrypicking, those are some of the better players. All these guys have in common is that they aren't good enough to play in the big leagues and they have been around long enough to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. Go look at the AA All Star rosters and the AAA all star rosters from this year. Teams are using AAA more and more as a holding station for the Bill Hall's and Dana Eveland's of the world. Maybe if you need a one week call up or something they are nearby but in terms of good young players that could help you long term the roster's are almost completely devoid.

Jon Shepherd said...

Simply put, MLEs. On average you have a suppression of offensive performance about 15-20% at each step.

I mean, go to a AA game, then to a AAA game. Huge differences in current ability.

Bret said...

I will have to agree to disagree with you. To me if you have a bunch of players that will eventually be stars at the big league level that outweighs players that have had a cup of coffee in the big leagues at some point and sucked. I admit A to AA is a huge jump, AA to AAA may not even be a jump. Fewer and fewer teams are sending prospects to AAA for anything more than a one month delay service time thing.

Your argument is akin to saying you would see a higher level of play if you had Cliff Levingston, Antoine Carr, and Mel Turpin and a bunch of other 12th men playing than you would if you had 18 year old LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, 22 year old Dwayne Wade etc. Yes, guile and experience count for something but talent counts the most especially when the gap is that large.

Jon Shepherd said...

Eh, what you write goes against every study on this. Just do a search on Google. AA certainly has a handful of guys who will be very good players, but they are not currently very good players and their teammates are worse than AAA teammates.

It simply is not an argument. AAA is more difficult than AA. You compare players who have played in both leagues as a population and that becomes readily apparent and is something that has been studied. It just is not a point to argue.

I have nothing more to write on it. If this was actually an interesting topic, then I would write a post. I just see no point to it.

Think of it this way...the first round of the draft will have more top 100 prospects than AAA. Those drafted top 100 guys would be killed by any AAA team. Killed.

Bret said...

Understand I'm not saying that AA is light years ahead of AAA. It is in terms of talent but since AAA guys are older with more experience much of it MLB experience that mitigates the talent a great deal.

However, your argument that teams view AAA as a big step simply isn't true. I can give you multiple examples of players who go directly from AA to the big leagues. The last huge O's pitching prospect did that - Matusz. The last huge Blue Jays prospect did that - Drabek. No one ever jumps from A to AAA or A to the big leagues. AA is viewed as a gigantic leap, AAA is viewed as optional at best, mainly to delay service time or to keep old scrubs they might need around. The O's didn't send Wieters to AAA except for one month, if they viewed AAA as such a jump in competition don't you think they would want their "franchise" catcher to clearly prove himself there first?

Your point about the first round of the draft is irrelevant, none of those kids go directly to AA. Of course a 25 year old at AAA is going to be better than an 18 year old, that isn't the debate.

Jon Shepherd said...

That experience is what makes it more difficult. The players are more fully baked and have holes that seem unfixable. The holes in the AA prospects seem fixable. AAA stars were often once AA top prospects who failed at MLB.

Jon Shepherd said...

Just go and read Clay Davenport's work.

I apparently am not explaining this well.

John said...


I think you are comparing apples and oranges.

Prospect lists are based on ceilings and projections, not the pure development of current skills. The reason that so many are in the lower minors, is because they haven't yet failed to live up to those projections, and the majority of prospects will fail to reach their ceilings.

The players in AAA generally don't have the same ceiling, because they have had failures, but still have talent and skills.

The worst 5 players on a AAA roster are better current baseball players, than the worst 5 players on a AA roster.

Bret said...

You say the majority of prospects at AA and below will fail to reach their ceilings. That is true.

But the players you find more and more of at AAA HAVE failed in many cases to even reach their floor. Obviously baseball is a game of inherent failure and many players fail but it is hard to sell me on AAA being an important step in the prospect development process when

A. AA has more talent by far
B. Most teams aren't sending their top prospects to AAA for anything more than a cup of coffee if that.

The original point of the debate was not AA versus AAA who would win more games if they played 162 times, that is a tough debate and not easily quantifiable. My point was if Schoop and Machado have proven themselves at AA would it be rushing them to bring them up this year. I don't think it would and if Manny Machado isn't better than Wilson Betemit this very instant then I'm Christopher Columbus. I was better defensively in American Legion ball than Betemit and also struck out much less frequently. If you really want get the fans excited and win more games you don't need to trade half the farm system. Bring up Machado and Bundy in August and see what they can do. Pretty sure Bundy can outperform Miguel Gonzalez and very sure Machado can outperform Betemit.

Jon Shepherd said...

It is actually easy to quantify. Read Davenport's work.

AAA includes organizational filler, AAAA tweeners, and old AA prospects who have not lived up to MLB standards.

AA consists of AA filler and AA prospects who have yet had the opportunity to show that they have flaws that make them stuck at AAA.

The reason why elite, and really only elite, players skip AAA is because the expected skill level is thought to be better than what a team has at the MLB level. There can be optimism that MLB coaches and experience can correct existing flaws. These teams see more value in a player at average or below average performance in the Majors than doing well in AAA.

The point is not that AAA is less competitive than AA. The point is that elite prospects at AA are not so far away from being MLB ready that a team may decide to go through with am aggressive promotion.

So AAA has more failed prospects because AA prospects have yet the chance to expose their flaws as much as AAA guys have.

Jon Shepherd said...

Also, I think you severely underappreciate how hard MLB baseball is.

Right now, Betemit is better than Machado. In a year, I expect that not to be the case.

John said...

Let's pretend for a second that roster decisions are based solely on talent considerations.

Then I agree that Machado may be one of the most talented hitters/defenders, and Bundy is one of the 12 most talented pitchers in the Orioles organization. That still doesn't mean either one has the necessary experience to succeed at the MLB level RIGHT NOW.

Back in the real world, the team needs to balance talent considerations with contracts, service time, arbitration eligibility and a host of other concerns.

Finally, the whole get the fans excited thing is a useless arguement. When Wieters made his debut, attendance jumped for one game, and then went right back down. I don't think there were even attendance spikes for Matusz, Arrieta, Britton or others. Sustained success will put fans in the seats, not promoting prospects.

Bret said...

As usual this is going off topic.

A. There are 3 basic category choices. 1. Stand pat, 2. trade for a Hanley Ramirez or Zach Grienke and give up the system, 3. bring up the system. I am fine with 1 or 3, I'm not fine with 2, the original post encourages 2.

B. When you say neither one may be able to succeed at the major league level that is like saying I have an untested boat, not sure it will make it across the Atlantic when the current boat is the Titanic. Wilson Betemit sucks. Tommy Hunter and Miguel Gonzalez have a lot of heart but not much talent. I think Bundy and Machado for rest of year would provide more WAR than the Titanic we have now. So it is a baseball consideration (more wins), a secondary consideration (more fans excitement, and a better chance at at least 1 wild card game which will also increase revenue). Service time is also important as you mentioned, that is part of the equation. I'm really not adament about bringing them up or not, I am adament about not trading them Schoop, Hoes, Delmonico etc.

The team needs to be built the right way. We have tried the FA route, we have tried the el cheapo Matt Hobgood signings, we have tried giving relievers big contracts. They have some good things, now is not the time to be impatient and undo a lot of good that has been done in the past 5 years for one splash.

John said...

I agree entirely with not trading away the top end of the farm system for rentals.

Bret said...

I don't want to trade them for anything, rentals or not. Honestly, the team should be sellers. In a different year I think Jim Johnson for Brandon Belt or something would be a great idea. Given however, that they are still competitive for the first time in 15 years I think that would be awfully insulting to fans. I'm fine playing out the string though I'm pretty confident Betemit and Reynolds aren't leading them anywhere fast but over a 63 game sample strange things can happen. Next year though the overhaul needs to be total and swift.