Brian W writes:
Lately I have become really fascinated by Ruben Tejada and specifically what he can ultimately become. The mid point of the season has lead to players being assigning "grades" by different outlets and you even have been updating your pre season prospect rankings. I must admit I have been somewhat confused by the lack of love for Tejada. I understand he has n0 power. None whatsoever. It is difficult to sing the praises of a guy with a .288 SLG(!!!) and a .026 ISO. However (and this is probably what ultimately caused me to write this email) compare Tejada to Elvis Andrus who Dave Cameron recently declared was one of the 50 most valuable trade pieces in baseball. I know that you are in no position to explain Cameron's specific reason but I feel like the industry wide thought is that Andrus is a really valuable. Andrus is his age 21 season (last year) has essentially the same exact numbers as Tejada now. (CHART BELOW) Tejada has the OBP edge, Andrus the SLG edge but overall basically the same player offensively. The big difference in the 2 players appears to be Andrus' ability to steal bases and the fact that Andrus is an established + defensive SS while Tejada might be a + defensive SS. I guess my point is, are the SBs and the certainty vs projection of defensive performance (if such certainty exists) enough to be the difference between 1 guy being a top 50 trade piece in all of baseball and the other guy being only a top 15 prospect in an poor farm system?Two things here: 1. the actual performance of the two players and 2. the perception of the players' performance.
I am not trying to be a fan boy overrating the guy who plays for the team that I root for but most of the numbers seem strikingly similar.
Andrus has been a name in baseball circles for a few years now. He was part of an in-season blockbuster, when he was part of the Braves package for Mark Texeira. He arrived in the big leagues with a splash by displacing popular (and overrated veteran) Michael Young from short. Most importantly, he was on the team that went to the World Series last year. That's a big deal. Would people have cared nearly as much about protecting catchers in the wake of Buster Posey's injury if he hadn't been the best offensive player on last year's World Series winner? Before you answer, ask yourself about the outcry around Carlos Santana's injury a year before.
Given that both shortstops provide well below average big league power, the fact that Andrus can provide value on the bases is important. Every little bit helps. For what it's worth, Andrus has turned a few of his doubles into homers this year and is hitting a whopping .285/.336/.352. Believe it or not, in a down year for offense, that works out to a wRC+ of exactly 100 - on the mark for league average. Combine that with a player who's worth roughly a full win with his glove, if not more, at the diamond's toughest position, and that's a really, really valuable player like on pace for about 5 WAR this year.
In the field, Fangraphs has Tejada as well below average at shortstop this year. Given that analysts prefer three year averages of UZR with over 4,000 innings defensively, that's a laughably small sample size.
Think too about the tools here. Andrus has plus-plus speed. Tejada is a little bit above average. That creates an advantage for Andrus both in the field where he has superior range and on offense, where he's a bigger threat to run.
So the two players are separated by Andrus' speed. It's a pretty big gap. However, if you're feeling optimistic, perhaps Tejada can be Andrus, minus the speed. With good defense at short, even a below average hitter is pretty valuable.
Vaughn in Savannah:
Vs. Left: .368/.507/.509, 4 2B, 2 3B, 14 BB, 13 K in 73 plate appearances.
Vs. Right: .261/.372/.378, 10 2B, 4 HR, 22 BB, 51 K in 224 PA.
Other fun notes, of his 14 HBP in Savannah, 12 came versus righties, and only two versus lefties. He fanned in 18% of his plate appearances versus lefties and 23% versus righties in Savannah. He walked in 19% of his pa vs. southpaws and 10% versus righties.
To flesh this out, Vaughn is hitting .444/.516/.704 with two homers and 4 BB, 6 K in 31 PA versus lefties in St. Lucie and .240/.345/.360 with one homer, 3 BB and 10 K in 58 PA versus righties. All five of his HBP have come versus RHP.
So clearly, Vaughn is much more dangerous against left-handed pitching. That's not really a surprise. We're dealing with small enough samples, that I'm hesitant to make any sweeping statements but clearly you're onto something here and Vaughn's left/right splits deserve close scrutiny.