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Thursday, June 10, 2004

MORE BUILDING

A follow-up on what Niles wrote...

Here's how Beltran and Wells compare over the past three years according to BP's fielding runs prevented above average (which I'll refer to as rpaa for short):

Beltran
'01 14 rpaa
'02 4 rpaa
'03 5 rpaa

Wells
'01 -3 rpaa
'02 1 rpaa
'03 0 rpaa

This would seem to confirm Yanquis' suspicion that Wells is about average.

Let's look at Fielding Win Shares from this year and last:

Beltran
'03 6.50 WS (5.78 WS/1000 INN)
'04 1.3 WS (2.71 WS/1000 INN)

Wells
'03 4.52 WS (3.19 WS/1000 INN)
'04 1.6 WS (3.04 WS/1000 INN)

Well, Beltran does have an advantage, but it seems to be getting smaller every year. Obviously, it would be more productive to compare them at the same age, but I don't have that info at my fingertips at the moment. Given Wells' husky body type, you'd expect him to lose another step or two as he approaches 30 as compared to the leaner, lighter Beltran, so the difference may grow even larger... but I'm sure as hell that Wells is not going to be pushed over to RF by this guy. (And I'm not talking about his bat. I haven't seen a player get such consistently bad jumps, or take such bizarre routes to balls, since this guy. I don't know how Rios played CF in the minors.)

I agree with Niles that Wells looks really really good in CF. Maybe Tangotiger would have something to say about that. (Scroll down and you'll see that Wells scores a very good 13 in fan runs based on subjective opinions, but a pretty mediocre -2 in the cold-hard light of UZR 162. Beltran scores an 18 from the fans, but a more modest 10 in UZR 162.)

So, Beltran is better than Wells. But keeping in mind that it takes 3 Win Shares to to make a win, I definitely wouldn't trade away Wells for Beltran. Even if Wells does end up as a corner outfielder by age 28, I think he's a solid bet to be a better hitter than Beltran is now. (Most exciting Vernon Wells stat of 2004? His walk rate has increased for the third straight season, from .042 BB/PA in '02 to .057 BB/PA last year to .094 BB/PA this year. If he can maintain this improvement when his power comes around--his IsoPwr is currently 62 points off last year's total and about 20 points under his career average--he'll unseat Beltran as the best all-around CF in the AL as early as this year--even if Beltran isn't traded to the Padres.)

Oh, and Mike Cameron last year? 21 rpaa, 6.02 WS/1000 INN, and 30 UZR 162. Yup, he's good.

I'D BUILD AROUND THAT

Back in his entry in defense of Vernon Wells, Jurgen said that Carlos Beltran might have an advantage with the glove over Wells. SCFD reader Yanquis added, "According to about every defensive stat out there he's about average with the glove." Well, let's have a look.

2004 Season

CARLOS BELTRAN .993 FPCT, 2.81 RF, .889 ZR.

VERNON WELLS 1.000 FPCT, 2.58 RF, .966 ZR.

Those numbers look pretty similar to me. Beltran has a bit of an advantage in range factor while Wells tops him by a decent margin in zone rating. Beltran does have 3 assists this year to Wells' lone cut-down but it looks like the league pretty much stopped running on Wells' arm after he gunned down 11 runners during the 2002 season; his assists dropped to 3 the following season. I don't think this drop in assists can be attributed to Wells, he has as strong and accurate an arm as I've seen in CF in a while.

Now just for fun let's compare Wells to the apparent consensus for the pair of best defensive CF's in baseball. (Even though everyone else knows Mike Cameron is the best defensive CF in baseball. Go ahead, ask Tom Glavine.)

2004 Season

Torii Hunter .988 FPCT, 2.68 RF, .895 ZR.

Andruw Jones 1.000 FPCT, 2.43 RF, .796 ZR.

Once again, I think Vernon's defensive stats compare rather favorably to these fine centerfielders. If anything, and I know it's borderline sacrilege, the defensive numbers have been showing a steady decline for Andruw Jones.

Who am I to say these defensive metrics mean anything? If they do, and you think Vernon Wells is an average CF, then by extension you'd better be willing to acknowledge that (GASP!) Andruw Jones is a below average CF.

My enthusiasm to stick-up for Wells' glove-work comes from the fact that I see him play on a semi-regular basis and I think he's the best defensive CF the Jays have had since this guy and probably the best player they've had since this guy. Or at least this guy. Which makes me feel all the better that Gord Ash isn't around anymore; he knows how to draft 'em but he sure don't know how to keep 'em.

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