Wednesday, April 28, 2004


"Not that Morgan can't hit righthanders or Lamb can't hit lefties, but it gives you options and it keeps everybody in the mix."

-Jimy Williams

Man, how much does it suck to be Morgan Ensberg? Here's a guy who by all rights should be one of the five top 3B in the NL, and he's got to share time with Hacking Mass All-Stars.

OK, neither Mike Lamb nor last year's partner, Geoff Blum, are that bad (well, Blum's pretty close). But they shouldn't be platooning games with Ensberg either.

You see, what Williams says might sound reasonable... but anyone with an internet connection can take 30 seconds to prove it's wrong. Lamb can't hit lefties. And he can barely keep his head above water against righties.

Lamb (2001-2003)
v. LHP .256/.340/.344 (.239 GPA) in 90 AB
v. RHP .289/.342/.403 (.255 GPA) in 546 AB

First thing that should jump out at you are those AB. It's taken Lamb three years to accrue a season's worth of AB. Why has Lamb played so little? Partly because he couldn't out-hit Herbert Perry, and partly because the Rangers gave young Hank Blalock every opportunity to win the 3B job. But it's more than that. Because by all accounts Lamb is a horrendous defensive player, and a brief glance at the defensive metrics backs it up. His last full season as a 3B in 2000, he had a .707 ZR. In part-time duties in '01, he "improved" to .758. Unlike you can hit like Mike Lowell or Eric Hinske, most clubs aren't going to put up with that. Secondly, I'll concede that OBP isn't bad, but his lack of power is concerning given he played half his games in Arlington. It's unlikely the 28 year old will see a big spike playing in another part of Texas.

How does Ensberg compare? Ensberg came up in '02, so we've only two-year splits for him:

Ensberg (2002-2003)
v. LHP .317/.437/.602 (.347 GPA) in 123 AB
v. RHP .266/.346/.462 (.271 GPA) in 394 AB

Well, if you go by batting average, Jimy's right. Ensberg doesn't hit righties as well as Lamb. But he gets on-base more and hits for significantly more power. And most of us would agree that that's what it's really all about. And those numbers against righties are bogged down by his rookie season, and he came into his own last year slugging .288 GPA against North Paws. And did I mention Ensberg's a pretty good defender at 3B, with a .786 ZR last year?

Mike Lamb's a massive improvement over Geoff Blum as a pinch-hitter and utility player.

But sitting Ensberg is not to way to get him into the mix.


We're all in agreement that Billy Beane's a pretty smart guy, right? And that if Beane really really wants a player, he's probably pretty good, right?

Well, Nick Swisher, Beane's top pick in the infamous 2002 Moneyball draft, is starting to live up to that excitement.

In his first fifty plate appearances in AAA, the switch-hitting Swisher's batting .302/.426/.605 (.343 GPA) with 10 BB, 10 K, and 3 HR. Given Swisher's age (he turned 23 in November), that pace falls somewhat shy of Mickey Mantle or Mark Teixeira. But it compares very very well with what Lance Berkman did at the same age. (Berkman hit .323/.419/.518 (.318 GPA) in 226 AB in AAA before being promoted to Houston at 23. At age 25 he hit .331/.430/.620 (.349 GPA) in a full season against major league pitching.)

Yes, there are tons of qualifiers. For instance, unlike Swisher, Berkman never showed any signs of struggling at any level. And, really, it's only 12 games. Anyone can look good over 12 games. Swisher could go hitless in his next 10 AB and see his stats plummet like Jermaine Dye sliding home. Objectively, it means next to nothing. But for a player who struggled badly after a mid-season promotion to AA last year, going .230/.330/.340 (.234 GPA) in 287 AB after hitting a scorching .296/.427/.550 (.330 GPA) in 189 AB in A, it's a welcome return to form.

Bobby Kielty, meet your replacement.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?