I hadn’t really done much investigation/research on the Cardinal’s two newest hitters other than some cursory looks at seasonal wOBAs etc. With the help of pitch f/x though we can go much further. We’re able to generate data that resembles a scouting report, which I thought might be helpful for Berkman and Theriot. Yes, we’ve all seen them play since they’ve been in the division, but we likely haven’t seen them play every day. Thus, the data will likely be more telling than the “eye test”. Today I’ll show some Berkman data. Theriot will have to wait until later. The first two charts are heat maps by pitch location. The number represents the run value per 100 pitches. Data is only from swings.  Charts are from the catcher’s perspective.

First vs RHP

Then vs LHP

When hitting left handed (i.e. the vs RHP graph above) Berkman appears to kill the ball middle away (may be some home park bias there), but is vulnerable middle in.  Also, contrary to most LH hitters, he appears to hit the high ball better than the low one.  As a RH hitter he appears more conventional, hitting the inside and high pitches better, but is an overall worse hitter.

Along with that scouting report style data, I was also curios if there was any evidence of aging/a slowing bat.  The following table would point that way.  Values are rv per 100 again

2008 2009 2010
mph <93 1.82 0.82 1.18
mph >93 1.92 1.79 0.91

It appears (sample size is problematic) that Berkman is having a tougher time with the higher velocity fastballs (table is limited to fastballs only).

That’s it for now. I’m sure as the year goes on, Berkman will be the topic of more pieces such as this. For now I’ll leave you with a question. What do you expect from Lance at the plate this year?

See what I did there? One of my favorite parts about having a blog is being able to choose titles. You’re welcome for today’s gem. Genius, I know. I thought I’d try something new today. Since Twitter lends itself to spontaneous baseball debates, I thought I’d use a conversation I had with @andrewdmoses regarding his suggestion that Andruw Jones would be a nice pickup for the Cardinals’ bench. You can follow our entire back-and-forth on the subject to the left. If it’s too small for you to read, you should be able to click the picture and access a larger image.
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Somehow I missed on Monday that Dan at Baseball Think Factory posted his Cardinals Zips projections.  Here are the projections converted to wOBA first for the MLBers (all calculations use the PAs in Zips and a 0.335 league average for RAA calcs)

Player wOBA RAA
Albert Pujols 0.434 55
Matt Holliday 0.376 23
Lance Berkman 0.368 14
Colby Rasmus 0.344 5
Allen Craig 0.337 1
Jon Jay 0.326 -5
David Freese 0.318 -6
Yadier Molina 0.315 -9
Skip Schumaker 0.311 -11
Tyler Greene 0.297 -17
Ryan Theriot 0.294 -23
Gerald Laird 0.284 -16

and then for the MiLBers

Player wOBA RAA
Nick Stavinoha 0.315 -7
Daniel Descalso 0.317 -10
Mark Hamilton 0.320 -5
Matt Carpenter 0.318 -8
Bryan Anderson 0.311 -7
Aaron Luna 0.306 -11
Andrew Brown 0.300 -13
Daryl Jones 0.297 -17
Thomas Pham 0.301 -14
Adron Chambers 0.291 -18
Steve Hill 0.292 -17
Tony Cruz 0.291 -18
Pete Kozma 0.285 -28
Donovan Solano 0.276 -25

 

These tables highlight the folly of the Brendan Ryan for Ryan Theriot swap. Theriot projects to only hit slightly better than Pete Kozma. Let that sink in for a while.  They also show the extreme lack of middle infield options, with Descalso posting the best wOBA projection.

 

The projection for Berkman is alright, but it is likely not good enough to overcome the defensive deficiencies.  On the whole the offensive projections do not inspire a whole lot of optimism.

 

On the positive side, the projection thinks that if David Freese were to get injured again, Matt Carpenter could step right in and be a suitable replacement.  As I’ve mentioned previously, that’s a sentiment I share.  Bryan Anderson would be a suitable backup with that line, with some potential to be more.  With the versatility of some of the bench options (Greene, Craig if he can backup at 3rd) would it be worth it to carry 3 catchers?  Probably not, but it’s something to think about.

I haven’t really formed a powerful opinion of the Card’s off-season.  All of the moves have really been “eh” moves.  They’re fine on the face, but not likely to substantially improve the club.  I’ll take the two major moves in order.

Trading Blake Hawksworth for Ryan Theriot:

Giving away the Hawk doesn’t bother me too much.  He’s pretty much “just a guy”; an o.k. piece to have around, but replaceable in an instant.  This move boils down to whether you see Theriot as an improvement over Brendan Ryan or not.  Basically you’re taking playing time away from someone who is likely to be a +10 to 15 defender with -15 to -20 bat for someone that will be a -5 to -10 fielder and a -10 to -15 bat.  Seems to be to be a horizontal move at best, with a definite possibility to be a downgrade.

In order of preference, I think Theriot would best be deployed

  1. Starting ~20 games at 2nd and ~20 games at SS; and would be the guy to take over if either got injured (This assumes a competent 2nd baseman; which the Cards lack)
  2. Starting ~130 games at 2nd (this is actually the best for the Cards since they lack an actual 2nd baseman)
  3. Starting ~130 games at SS

So the Cards are going to pick the worst option (where they likely have the best player already in place).

Signing Lance Berkman:

At least Berkman brings something the Cards don’t have too much of; a high OBP bat.  Clearly the question here is can Berkman hit enough to overcome what will likely be large defensive shortcomings?  Assuming health (clearly a big assumption, but if not healthy then all that is lost is $8M)  I think we’re looking at something like a 0.375 wOBA with the error bars being ~0.015 to 0.020.  For him to be a 2 WAR guy with that kind of offense he’d need to be about a -10 defender.  Is that possible?  Probably.  Likely?  Don’t know, my guess would be no.

All in all it appears the Cards made two depth moves.  The problem is they are being spun as more than that.  The question is, “Will they need to be more than that?”.

© 2011 Gas House Graphs Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha