31 March 2014

The Optimists and Pessimists Guide to the 2014 Orioles Opening Day Roster: Position Players

The mark of a solid bar room argument is typically one largely dependable fact to attach a rather large voice.  The point of this post and the next is to provide you with that bedrock foundation for any scream fests that might ensure on Opening Day.

Position Players
Matt Wieters
Steamer (S): .323 wOBA; Oliver (O): .315; ZiPS (Z): .321
Optimist - .182 ISO.  While many teeth has been gnashing about Wieters' bat falling apart last year, he still showed his trademark power which makes him a solid catching option as well as having the potential for being one of the best catchers in the game.
Pessimist - 28 years old.  Although fine for a catcher, Wieters' bat was projected to be transformational for a lineup and, with each season, he decidedly shows that it is not.
Steve Clevenger
S: .306; O: .305; Z: .290
Optimist - .398 wOBA.  Clevenger rocked right handed pitchers in Iowa last year and may be able to provide some pop when Wieters rests his platoon bat.
Pessimist - Negative One. Over 244 career plate appearances, Clevenger has shown himself to be below replacement value.

Chris Davis
S: .370; O: .408; Z: .377
Optimist - 39.8% pitches received in the strike zone.  Davis' bat is for real as evidenced by opposing pitchers last year giving him the seventh fewest pitches as strikes in the Majors.
Pessimist - 3.5 WAR. The last first baseman in his late 20s to break out in a single season was Carlos Pena and his follow up performance regressed to 3.5 WAR.
Ryan Flaherty
S: .298; O: .304; Z: .300
Optimist - .359 wOBA. Flaherty's second half performance at the play shows he is capable of high level performance.
Pessimist - .355 wOBA. Flaherty's September wOBA in 2012 did not appear to carry over into the first half of 2013.
J.J. Hardy
S: .312; O: .319; Z: .318
Optimist - 27.2 runs saved above average.  Hardy always provides a solid baseline of defensive value even when he is in one of his power outages at the plate.
Pessimist - .804 RZR.  Hardy had his second worst second in the field according to RZR with the concern being that he is reaching the age where limitations in range begin to cause a good number of grounders sneaking through and poorly set throws.
Steve Lombardozzi
S: .296; O: .291; Z: .293
Optimist - 109 wRC+.  That was the worst offensive season he had in full season minor league ball, which is a number that is considered league average.  Pretty good.
Pessimist - 67 wRC+.  That was his offensive production last year in approximately 300 plate appearances, which is horrific.
Jonathan Schoop
S: .292; O: .311; Z: .309
Optimist - 1.098 OPS.  Schoop was on fire this Spring and perhaps established a new baseline of talent.
Pessimist - 1.118 OPS. Was the number of the only second baseman to exceed Schoop's.  His name is Skip Schumaker.

Nelson Cruz
S: .336; O: .341; Z: .340
Optimist - .069 points of OPS. The improvement the Orioles will see from last year's DHs if Cruz meets his Steamer projection for OPS.
Pessimist - -6.5 runs/150 games. Cruz will be playing a considerable amount of time in left field.
Adam Jones
S: .342; O: .344; Z: .342
Optimist - 6.2 Baseruns.  Last year, Jones scored as one of the best baserunners in baseball.  This aspect of his game is largely overlooked and has really matured over the years.
Pessimist - 3.6% walk rate.  Jones will have to make contact because he simply cannot rely on walks during slumps.
David Lough
S: .316; O: .310; Z: .296
Optimist - 27.3 runs/150 games.  Last year, metrics suggested that Lough might be one of the best defensive players in baseball.
Pessimist - 27 years old.  Players who have rookie seasons at age 27 with the value coming from defense are a pretty sad lot.
Nick Markakis
S: .335; O: .308; Z: .322
Optimist - 18 lbs.  Nick Markakis added that much muscle to his frame this off-season.
Pessimist - -5 runs/150 games.  Nick poor range has been an issue for years and even when he was in top shape.
Steve Pearce
S: .327; O: .328; Z: .325
Optimist - .802 OPS against left handers.  Pearce is quite able to fill in at DH when Cruz wanders out to left field.
Pessimist - 5.2 runs/150 games.  Pearce's only position with a positive defensive metric value is 1B and that position is occupied.
Delmon Young
S: .299; O: .321; Z: .309
Optimist - .812 OPS against left handers.  Young also is quite able to fill in at DH against lefties.
Pessimist - 2010. This was the only year where his offense was considered above average.  The only year.

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