Position Roundtables: Starting Second Base

Dave · February 16, 2005 at 6:04 am · Filed Under 2005 Roundtables, Mariners 

Dave: Starting Second Base: Bret Boone.

2004 was a disaster for Bret Boone, especially in light of his recent
performances, including his excellent 2003 season. His performances
went down across the board, dropping to a mediocre .251./317/.423
line. More disturbingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single culprit
that led to the struggles; he just got worse across the board. He
swung more often and made less contact. When he hit the ball, it
didn’t go as far, and it was turned into an out far more often. Even
his stolen bases fell, but he was caught more often. In addition, his
defense appeared to have purchased a 20 game plan, only bothering to
come to the park on select days.

He turns 36 before the third game of the season. He’s played almost
1700 games at a position known for wearing down players earlier than
expected. I know Boone thinks he just had an off year, and he’s done
the lasik thing to claim that his increased vision is going to help
him return to previous levels of stardom, but I just don’t see it.
The Bret Boone of 2001-2003 is just a memory at this point, and all
we’ve got left of that Boone is the jersey and the contract.

I don’t expect another massive slide for Boone, at least not this
year. I think he’ll hit something like he did last year or maybe a slight improvement, say
.260/.320/.440, which is still a pretty decent second baseman. With
the impending move of Jose Lopez to second base, however, Boone’s
replacement is waiting in the wings, so this is probably his swan song
in Seattle. It was a great run, but I just don’t see Boone hooking up
the juvenation machine and reliving the glory days again.

Derek: I agree, though I also think there’s a bounce possible. Even the
bad-hitting pre-Mariner Boone hit better than last year’s version.

Boone’s an obvious example of a player that didn’t peak at 27-28. While
on a larger scale we know that players peak then and then decline, and
we can talk about the shape of careers (as we did in Sexson’s case) many
players peak early, or late, and in general a player who had a nice,
easily distinguishable career year at 27 and then declined softly and
steadly until 35, when they crashed would be the exception. When Boone
was supposed to be at his best, in 1995-1997, he wasn’t: his 1994 year
was really good, his 1995 good, and then he stunk it up for two years
until he put up some decent numbers, and then 2001 and 2003 were
stellar. 2002, by istelf, was impressive but wouldn’t have been
unbelievable on its own. Compared to 2001 and 2003, it looks anemic.

My point is that Boone’s career may have taken an unexpected late turn,
but I look at his 13-year career and in trying to guess at what next
year’s performance would be like, I keep looking back at the bad and
decent years that have made up the bulk of his lines. If he hit
.240/.300/.350 next year, that wouldn’t be surprising.

Really, are there cases where LASIK has dramatically improved a hitter’s
performance this late in their career?

Other interesting fact, though: while nearly every defensive stat you
can point to showed Boone as a below-average defender and in many cases,
far below average, UZR had him at +5 which I think has to be some kind
of fluke. Defensive metrics are all subject to strangeness. As much as
I’ve looked to UZR in the past for answers, in this case I think there’s
something odd going on.

Lopez should be a good player and a contributor to the next truly
competitive team, and there’s an excellent chance he’ll be promoted
during the season if he takes to second well and Boone doesn’t rebound well.

Jeff: Once again, I am in concordance with what Dave and Derek have said. One small addendum: I think continued productivity by Jeff Kent (a player of similar vintage, and Boone’s top PECOTA comparison) indicates that a rebound is possible.

To help undermine the site’s reputation as a source for factual information, though, I also offer this parody of Robert Service’s poem ‘Boon Soul.’

Boone Soul
With profound apologies to Robert Service

Behold! He is old; frosted hair soon white;
Bret’s years-eroded swing
a sometimes troubling sight,
absent now what it once did bring.

The raucous second baseman’s skills
held through select all-star years,
one-hundred sixteen wins, viewed thrills
where facing Boone ranked in pitchers’ fears.

But in watching him this year you’ll see
(along with an inevitable decline, belated)
observers muse of how next year he’ll be
himself among the For Assignment Designated.

Yes, I know that letting a player walk in free agency is not the same as designating him for assignment. Poetic license.

Jason: For starters, I think we should be glad 2005 is the last year of Boone’s
current contract. Maybe he just looks young, but I was marginally surprised
to see he turns 36 in April; not that I thought he was 30 or anything, but
he just doesn’t seem 36.

Moving on. As I said at the USSM Feed a few months back, Boone’s not as good
as he was in 2003 but not as bad as he was last season, either. Nobody’s
mentioned this yet, but he was slowed by nagging hip/back injuries that
certainly hurt him at the plate, even though he still managed to play 148
games. Assuming those problems are gone, we should see a small bounce back
in his offensive numbers. I think we should look for something similar to
his 2002 season — I’ll say he posts a .270/.340/.480 line.

That sort of production won’t mean he’s worth his $9M salary, but it’s
certainly not awful for the position. It also helps that he shouldn’t have
to be the team’s only power option next season; you can afford to have that
line from your fourth- or fifth-best hitter (Ichiro, Beltre, er, Sexson…),
but not from your second-best.

I don’t think we’ll see much of Lopez in 2005 unless Boone’s hurt or the M’s
fall way back in the race the way they did last season. I suppose there’s a
third option as well: Boone’s playing well but the M’s aren’t, and Bavasi
manages to unload him in July.

Peter: For some reason my memory had displaced just how
stinky Boone’s 2004 had been. Then I see him ranked
7th in the AL VORP for 2B, sandwiched between Adam
Kennedy and Omar Infante. Yikes!

The holy books of baseball history leave much to be
desired when it comes to 36-year-old second basemen.

Hmm… let’s see. There’s the 1939 version of Charlie
Gehringer. He played on l18 games for the Tigers, yet
put together a .308 EqA (adjusted for all-time). In
1923, Eddie Collins batted a .302 EqA (again,
era-adjusted) in a full season of 152 games. Those
fellas are enshined in Cooperstown, though, and a Hall
of Famer Bret Boone is not.

More modern and mortal examples include Willie
Randolph (1991, 124 games, .315 EqA), Lou Whitaker
(1993, 119 games, .314 EqA), Tony Fernandez (1998, 138
games, .299 EqA) and Randy Velarde (1999, 95 games of
.286 EqA for Anaheim and 61 games of .306 for
Oakland). However, none of these guys resemble Boone’s
skillset or career arc.

On the other hand, his ginormous season of 2001 seems
to have warped our historical perspective of what we
Mariner fans should expect from their second basemen.
Prior to Booney, the best offensive season we had seen
from a second sacker was Joey Cora of the Kingdome
(1997, 11 HR, 54 RBI, .284 adjusted EqA). In that one
season, Boone hit more homers than Cora did his whole

One interesting tidbit from Boone’s latest tenure in
Seattle: The trend in his
pitches-seen-per-plate-appearance is going up, yet his
plate-appearances-per-strikeout is tanking
dramatically. He saw 3.96 P/PA last year, the very
same as Edgar Martinez.

2001, 3.69 P/PA, 6.27 PA/K
2002, 3.68 P/PA, 6.61 PA/K
2003, 3.93 P/PA, 5.64 PA/K
2004, 3.96 P/PA, 4.87 PA/K

Perhaps he was pressing in a lost, nighmare year.
Perhaps his vision was terrible. And maybe the Lasix
will help. And maybe the presence of Beltre and Sexson
in the lineup will take some pressure off. I’d like to
think so.

PECOTA has Boone pegged around .260/.330/.450 and 25
homers in 490 AB. I, for one, wouldn’t cry to see that
line from Booney. As has been read in this space
before, PECOTA is based on comparable players, and
there just aren’t that many for Boone.

If Boone can manage those solid numbers and the
Mariners find themselves swimming ’round .500 by July,
flipping Boone for some prospects isn’t out of the
question. It would have made for a good run.

I am going to love double plays this summer. I’m just
imagining Dave Niehaus tripping through “Booney to
Pokey, Pokey to Booney.” It’s gonna be great.

Dave: Actually, I think Lou Whittaker is a pretty decent comparison. Not
perfect, but decent. Boone doesn’t possess Whittaker’s ability to
control the strike zone, but both were .270-.300 hitters with some pop
despite not being over 6’0 tall. And though he couldn’t stay healthy
at the end of his career, Whittaker was a pretty good hitter until the
day he retired. So maybe I’m underestimating Boone a little bit.

And, also, I think we’d be remiss to not mention the fact that Boone
is the case study for the type of right-handed power hitter who isn’t
affected by Safeco Field. From 2002-2004, he hit .274/.340/.471 at
home and .276/.342/.478 on the road. That’s a statistical tie, for
all intents and purposes. Why? Look at his hitting
. He’s peppering the ball to right field consistently, the
part of Safeco that favors hitters.

By my subjective count, Boone’s career extra base hit numbers at Safeco Field:

Left Field Line: 18 doubles, 0 triples, 2 home runs
Left Center Gap: 14 doubles, 1 triple, 16 home runs
Center Field: 4 doubles, 0 triples, 10 home runs
Right Center Gap: 11 doubles, 2 triples, 15 home runs
Right Field Line: 17 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs

Now, trying to divide center field from right center gap by looking at
a hitting chart isn’t perfect, and squinting to see if there are one
or two “D” marks on the chart is a challenge, so these numbers
probably have a 5% margin of error. But the general idea is still
true. Boone drives the ball the other way far more often than he does
to left field. He’s the tailor made Safeco Field power hitter. If
the M’s want right-handed bats who aren’t going to be affected by
Safeco, they should find hitters like Bret Boone.


45 Responses to “Position Roundtables: Starting Second Base”

  1. David on February 16th, 2005 6:19 am

    I’m optimistic about Boone. But then again, pitchers and catchers report today, so I’m optimistic about everything. I think he’ll be putting up a .270/.330/.490 line come July, and we’ll flip him to the Yankees (who will, I assume, have grown weary of Tony Womack) for their last remaining prospect.

  2. NBarnes on February 16th, 2005 6:48 am

    PECOTA is more optomistic about Boone than I am, and that gives me a slightly warmer and fuzzier feeling about the entire affair. For a 2b, that’s a pretty decent line, in fact, just not in line with Boone’s previous levels of achievement (Boone’s 2001 is properly described as ginormous). If we get another 2002 out of him, I’ll be quite pleased, and it’s nice to see Lopez getting ready to slide into that spot as a replacement.

    Except… where are we going to find another shortstop, then? :/

  3. Jerry on February 16th, 2005 6:55 am

    Nice discussion of Boone’s likelihood of a turnaround. Count me in the optimistic camp. I am just hoping that he can play similar to his 2003 numbers or perhaps a tad better. If he was at .275/.340/.490 at a 30 HR pace, he becomes very tradable. If the M’s could move him for a few prospects – perhaps a better package if they took on some of his salary – it would be well worth it. I like Boone, but I hope that the M’s deal with his situation from a rebuilding point of view. The M’s have a very good option waiting in Tacoma, and Boone should not be in the teams long-term plans. Trading him at mid-season would not be a bad move even if the team is still contending, especially if the trade brings us young pitching.

    One thing that I wish you guys would have addressed more is Lopez. Do you guys think that the M’s will commit 100% to moving him to 2B? And how do you think he will be there, defensively? My impression of him from his 2004 play was that he was ‘acceptable’ at SS, he could be a plus defender at 2B if he can learn to turn the double play well. His bat will definitely be an asset there.

    It will be interesting to see what the M’s do with Lopez in 2005. I would like to see them convert him to 2B right off the bat. I think that Lopez, if healthy, could totally dominate in Tacoma. This would really put the M’s in an interesting position at mid-season. If both Boone and Lopez are playing well, they would be able to make a trade without downgrading the team. In that situation, they could trade for prospect, or, if the team is still playing well, look to take on a higher-salaried player that could help the team in 2005.

  4. Jerry on February 16th, 2005 6:57 am

    Oops, in that last post, I meant to say that “I am just hoping that he can play similar to his 2002 numbers or perhaps a tad better” as opposed to his 2003 numbers. That would be great if he did play like he did in 2003, but 2002 would be a nice realistic level of performance from him.

  5. Jim on February 16th, 2005 7:18 am

    Boone’s collapse last year was largely self-induced and eerily Cirillo-esque in nature. Even under the best of circumstances he’s just not mentally or emotionally equipped to lead the team like a Jeter, for example. Expect a noticeable improvement in his defense now that he’s bracketed by Sexon, Reese and Beltre.

  6. err0r on February 16th, 2005 7:59 am

    Oh boy, couldn’t of seen the steriod talk coming.


    The power drop last year IMO wasn’t at fault. Show me evidence that steriods improve the batting eye and patience at the plate.

  7. toonprivate on February 16th, 2005 8:04 am

    #6: It IS hard to talk about Boone without mentioning the S-word. and not just because the of the Canseco book, either. i think soon we’ll be able to assemble a “post-steroid metrics,” which will allow us to project the decline of hitters after giving up the juice (and maybe before finding a non-detectable substitute). Giambi is doing some of the groundwork. We don’t KNOW that Boone used, of course, but if we assume he did, it makes him practically unprojectable in 2005. one thing i KNOW about charlie gehringer? he didn’t use steroids. i’m REALLY glad that Lopez is in the system!

  8. M's Zen on February 16th, 2005 8:09 am

    You guys do a phenomenal job of breaking down statistics and parlaying that with informative stories. As a new M’s blog reader, USSM is one of my favs.

    Regarding last years problems, as there were many, I believe that they were more a function of a attitude than they were from mere crappy play…though the play was indeed crappy. I don’t know stats like you guys, but I know about playing baseball. Its a game of hots and colds; of streaks, feel, and instinct. A dark cloud of negativity that seemed to surrounded the M’s last year was noticable to everyone…ESPECIALLY those in the dugout. I think that it was this nasty “funk” and the acceptance of defeat that led to this team’s gross underachievement…especially Boone. Of course, injuries, bad play, a few bad moves, and all that contributed…but when you’re in the dugout with a team where everything seems be to going wrong, you’re going to be affected. I hate the cliche, but poor hitting and losing is indeed like a virus.

    With some positive off season acquisitions, an Ichiro who battled his own way out of a first-half “funk” last year, and hopefully a little better defense…success, winning, and Boone’s hitting will be infused with some positivity. I don’t know if will equate to the “magic” that we all hope for, but I’m sure we’ll see an improvement especially from a guy like Boone that seems to really ride the positive vibe from his team; has Boone ever had a great season when on a crappy team?

    You may laugh, but it means a lot in baseball and this is difference maker. If stats told the whole story, then we could spend all of our time analyzing the stats, betting the lines, and discovering our riches. Attitude and team chemistry will tell the tale of Boone’s turnaround this year, not his 2004 statistics.

    You guys are great…I’ll keep reading. M’s Zen.

  9. patnmic on February 16th, 2005 8:11 am

    Marke me as a Boone optimist because of a two reaseons. Boone had a lot of off field issues last year and he’s heading into a contract year. Last year Boone’s wife was struggling through a dificult pregnancy and his grandfather (with whom he was very close) died. This had to take a toll on him. Let’s not forget what Boone did his last contract year (2001 wasn’t a bad year).

  10. JJM on February 16th, 2005 8:43 am

    One issue I haven’t seen addressed is that Boone will have much more protection in the line-up. With Sexson & Beltre in the fold, Boone should see more fastballs lower down in the order. If he sees a steady diet of breaking balls because the book continues to be ‘you need to pitch around this guy’, we’ll be wearing starters out with high pitch counts.

    He most certainly was pressing. Edgar & an incomplete season of Ibanez & Jacobsen were hardly protection. Remember our power numbers were PALTRY. We had a grip of players whom the opposing pitcher could throw fastballs to & get away with it. Ichiro scoring less than a hundred runs was more than Brett Boone’s fault (not that anyone has said it was his fault in this thread). I may not be an ecologist but I know that symbiotic relationship make a cycle of good health. More threats in the line-up = better pitches seen.

    I’m confident Boone will post better numbers in 2005, like Finley he keeps himself in great shape which is rare in a player of his age bracket. Barring injury, with his eye correction, he will make more contact more often for more power.

    My worry is that Olivo & Reese will really stink it up with the bat, and throw an ecosystem on the brink of thriving out-of-whack (pardon the pun).

  11. eponymous coward on February 16th, 2005 8:51 am

    One small addendum: I think continued productivity by Jeff Kent (a player of similar vintage, and Boone’s top PECOTA comparison) indicates that a rebound is possible.

    Except Kent, while still a productive player, has taken a dive the last two years that’s masked by playing half his games in the Juice Box instead of Pac Bell. Kent’s home/road splits show this pretty clearly. You should expect to see his stats plummet going to Dodger Stadium.

    Also note that nagging hip/back injuries are exactly the kind of injuries that end second basemen’s careers- Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, for example (both second basemen with pop like Boone).

    If Boone beats out his 2004 numbers, great, but I’m not counting on it.

  12. eponymous coward on February 16th, 2005 8:58 am

    One issue I haven’t seen addressed is that Boone will have much more protection in the line-up.

    That may be because there’s no good empirical evidence that there’s such a thing as “protection in the lineup”, outside of not getting so many intentional walks if you have a good hitter behind you (see: Bonds, Barry). It’s one of those things like “clutch hitting”, or “pitching and defense are (insert some high percentage number) part of the game”, or “you need to do the little things like sac bunts and advancing runners”, or “strikeouts are much worse than other outs because you don’t advance runners”- conventional baseball wisdom that so far is unsupported by results that can be verified by research.

  13. Aaron on February 16th, 2005 9:04 am

    Boone’s got a lot of things going for him this year that he didn’t have last year, so the optimists have reason to smile. He’s also a year older and has been wildly inconsistant year-to-year for a while now, so predicting improvement is certainly no guarentee.

    Really, the difference between Boone’s best performace and his worst, alone, isn’t the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the division, and since he won’t be back next year, his performace doesn’t mean a whole lot to the team this year or any time after. It’s going to take an awful lot of good things happening to contend next year, and realistically, getting to .500 will be a successful year. No matter what he does the first five months, if he’s still the Mariner’s starting 2B five days a week in September, I’ll be shocked.

  14. Jeff on February 16th, 2005 9:27 am

    Even considering park effects, Kent managed a .288 Equivalent Average, tied for second in baseball. He was helped out by playing in Houston, but kept his OPS north of .800 on the road, and was still an excellent player last year.

  15. Jeff on February 16th, 2005 9:27 am

    Er, I should have been clearer that Kent’s .288 EqA tied him for second in baseball among second basemen, not all players.

  16. RHarr on February 16th, 2005 9:30 am

    The breakdown of extra base hits by section of the field is great. I wouldn’t have guessed that for Boone. It reminds one of Edgar in his prime – his hit charts looked perfectly flat, no way to shade the outfield defenders to slow him down.

  17. Dave on February 16th, 2005 9:32 am

    Without sounding like totalitarians here, we’re going to moderate any conversation that begins to steer towards steroid speculation. We’ve ran several threads on the subject (including one yesterday), so if you really feel like you need to say something about steroids and who you believe is using, put it there. We just aren’t going to let you turn a roundtable on Boone’s performance into your platform to say that he’s juicing.

    If you don’t like, I’m sorry. But that’s how its gonna be. This is not a steroid thread, and further posts like #6 will be removed. If you have a problem with that, you can email us and we’ll discuss it with you.

  18. Pilots fan on February 16th, 2005 9:34 am

    I think Jason has it right for what Boone will do this year. Not as bad as 2004, but maybe not a repeat of 2003 either. His defense will rebound, because he will step up to his peers around the diamond.

    Re: #9, M’s Zen — Excellent comments. Right on. Not often popular with this crowd, but correct in my opinion. Stats are important and do tell a lot that we might not otherwise see, but the human factor in baseball is also very important.

  19. moira on February 16th, 2005 9:41 am

    Oh man, Boone Soul is hilarious. Jeff and Peter are a fantastic addition to USSM. Thanks for these round tables guys, they’re making me feel better, especially this one since I kind of hate Bret Boone.

  20. DMZ on February 16th, 2005 10:18 am

    I am less tolerant than Dave and have repeatedly said that speculation on the steroid use of players will get comments deleted. I’ve nuked egregious violators here, and will continue to do so in the future.

  21. Jim Thomsen on February 16th, 2005 10:24 am

    Jeff, I eagerly await your renditions of “The Shooting of Larry LaRue” and “The Cremation of Jeremy Reed” …. (My dad gave me a “Collected Poems of Robert Service” volume as a little boy and those wild and woolly tales of early 20th-centry Alaska owned an almost otherworldly hold on my overfevered imagination.)

    Count me, reluctantly, as a Boone pessimist, for the simple reason that very few ballplayers can be better at 36 than they are at 35. He could bounce back, but the preponderance of suggestive evidence says otherwise.

    That being said, I’m rooting hard for him.

  22. Christopher Michael on February 16th, 2005 10:24 am

    It helps that Boone is in a contract year that is his last chance to make a decent pay day. For him having last year look like an aberration makes his agent’s job much easier. I’m not expecting him to play as well as he did in 2003 but I can believe he did everything in the off-season to try and prepare himself to repeat that feat.

  23. Russ on February 16th, 2005 10:37 am

    As a Boone optimist, (all right, I’m a complete Mariner’s fan and have a ton of wishful thinking) I’m thinking that he meet this 02 performance level due to not having or feeling like he has to carry the club. I look back on the times Edgar was out of the line-up and Boone struggled. As soon as Gar was back, Boone was hitting again. I saw this cycle every time Gar was out.

    As was said earlier, he is not the personality to carry a team, he is a great role player in an organization but lacks that certain leadership quality that can define a team and push them to play to their ability. With the new players in the line-up, the M’s have a shot at having some fun this year which I think is what motivates Booone.

  24. Frank Lin on February 16th, 2005 10:48 am

    Is it just me, or does it seem like our team is made up of many players who haven’t followed the traditional arc? Four immediately spring to mind:


    Is it possible that our M’s are the most un-PECOTA-ish team around? Are there studies around that show how far off the PECOTA lines were for a team, in comparison to the league average and other teams?

  25. Adam M on February 16th, 2005 11:10 am

    Re: steroids and batting eye argument; I think there’s a plausible explanation. If we proceed from the following assumptions:

    *steroids improve strength
    *improved strength means fewer warning track flyballs and more home runs
    *most flyballs are hit on fastballs in the zone than breaking pitches or pitches out of the zone

    If we combine the three assumptions, it means that steroids can do for a player is increase the percentage of fastballs in the zone that he hits out of the park. A pitcher who knows a batter is more likely to hit a fastball out would be therefore less likely to throw fastballs over the plate and more likely to “nibble.” That is how steroids could conceivably “improve” batting eye. And if you believe that, then the arguments about “steroids or otherwise, so-and-so is a great hitter because he’s a great OBP guy” might ring a little hollow.

    Not saying I believe this personally, the argument seems like it should have some holes, but err0r asked for how steroids could improve batting eye, and that’s the best I could come up with. I haven’t seen anybody else make this argument (or refute it, natch), so if anyone has examples, would love to see them.

  26. Ralph Malph on February 16th, 2005 11:45 am

    Might steroids, by making a hitter stronger and thereby increasing bat speed, improve batting eye by allowing a batter to wait a little longer to commit himself?

    An increase in bat speed would also allow a batter to foul off pitches that he’d otherwise swing and miss on, thereby both decreasing strikeouts and increasing walks.

  27. fiction on February 16th, 2005 12:25 pm

    RE# 8 M’s Zen.Great post it is rewarding to read different perspectives.

    Hope Boone has bounce back year as well so that a mid season trade will reap rewards for future.

    Leadership should be more visable this year with new manager and Don Baylor in the dugout. Baylor is still an intimidating presence. Doubt that if Ichiro or any player gets beaned it will not go without retaliation as in Kansas City last year. Who would you prefer to have on your side Melvin and Molitor or Hargrove & Baylor.

    Hopefully M’s will be tougher as well as better team this year. That is the intangiable Caberra had as he demonstrated great heart. Madritsch appears fearless as well.

  28. Greg Pirkl on February 16th, 2005 1:04 pm

    Can anyone give me a good reason why I should expect boone to not do what he has in 8 of his 10 Full Seasons in the bigs…that being Hit Less than .278 with less than 24 homeruns. If you throw out what his seasons in ’01 and ’03 the guy is a very average baseball player.

    he is a career .268 hitter even factoring those season in who strikes out 118 times a year because he never listened to Piniella and learned to shorten his swing. If the guy was an outfielder he would be Jeffrey Leonard–a guy who swings from his A– which results in no contact and not much bang for the buck.

  29. eponymous coward on February 16th, 2005 1:14 pm

    Might steroids, by making a hitter stronger and thereby increasing bat speed, improve batting eye by allowing a batter to wait a little longer to commit himself?

    An increase in bat speed would also allow a batter to foul off pitches that he’d otherwise swing and miss on, thereby both decreasing strikeouts and increasing walks.

    A lot of bat speed’s in the wrists. Note that Hank Aaron was built a lot differently than, say, Frank Howard or Harmon Killebrew, but he was renowned for having quick wrists.

    That, and the “decreasing strikeouts” part sure isn’t clear in the cases of the two admitted steroid users we know of- Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco. The power increases? Yeah, sure, that’s in there.

    (Hope this doesn’t fall afoul of any moderators…)

    And my point on Boone is that Kent is experiencing some age-related regression from his peaks at a similar age to Boone- so I’m not sure projecting Boone to bounce back from his subpar 2004 is all that well-founded. Back injuries strike me as the chronic injuries that tend to drive 2B from the game (note that Joe Gordon and Bobby Doerr, two other power-hitting 2B left the game for those sorts of reasons), and the history of what players do at the position that Dave alluded to just leads me to believe that if Boone MATCHES his 2004 performance he’ll be doing well- because a season where Boone hits .219/12/49 in 98 games and spends time on the DL seems very possible as well.

  30. Dave on February 16th, 2005 1:21 pm

    Since 2001, Boone has posted EqA’s of .313, .278, .304, and .255. A .260 EqA is average for a hitter. For second baseman, average is closer to .245. The only second baseman alive who can match Boone’s recent performance is Jeff Kent. Even with his only “good” 2002 and mediocre 2004 season, Boone’s still pretty clearly one of the better second baseman in baseball. He’s been well above average for five years now. At this point, what he did in 1995 is basically irrelevant.

  31. Greg Pirkl on February 16th, 2005 1:41 pm

    Is what he did in 2004, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997 and 1996 irrelivant too?

    For the record
    2004: .251 24HR/83RBI ($8million salary)
    2002: .278 24HR/107 ($8million salary)
    2000: .251 19HR/74
    1999: .252 20HR/63
    1998: .266 24HR/95
    1997: .223 7HR/46
    1996: .233 12HR/69
    1995: .267 15HR/68

    Bret likes to say “this year I am going to get back to what I have always done”…but his performance indicats that 2003 and 2001 were the abnormalities; 2004 and 2002 were par for the course. yes good for a second baseman but garbage for a supposed run producer in the middle of the batting order

  32. Graham on February 16th, 2005 1:52 pm

    Greg – I take it that you’re at odds with the Beltre signing then, based on your analysis of Boone’s career?

    I’m not saying they’re in the same situation at all, but looking at a career average and saying, “look, he had a good year, that can’t be right at all, because he sucked when he was, say 26,” is rather simplistic. I don’t expect Boone to be fantastic by any means, but he should bounce back to his 2002 levels, which are solid (and tradable) numbers for a second baseman.

  33. eponymous coward on February 16th, 2005 3:54 pm

    Graham, is Beltre 26 years old, or 36 years old? Makes a bit of a difference in the evaluation.

    Count me in with Dave and Derek. If Boone performs at the 2001/2003 level, or even 2002, great. I think he’s more likely to have a year like 2004/1999/2000, though, and his injuries strike me as chronic (and based on 1700 games of double plays and hard slides) as opposed to one-off ones- and the downside risk of an awful year has to be at least near that of another MVP-type year.

  34. Graham on February 16th, 2005 3:58 pm

    I did try to qualify that otherwise strange analogy by saying, “I’m not saying they’re in the same situation at all.” Sorry if that wasn’t clear, e.c.

  35. nathaniel on February 16th, 2005 4:39 pm

    Not out of the realm of possibility that he could bounce back– at the very least, i don’t think he’ll do any worse than last year. Best case scenario would be a return to, say, 2003 levels, which would provide an opportunity to trade him at the deadline. At that point, his new team would only have to pick up about $3mm or so of his remaining salery, making him very tradeable. I expect the M’s will be improved enough that they won’t be out of it by then, and probably not looking to be trade him away. I think that would be a mistake, I’d prefer to see us using him to get something that might help us in the future, but i’m probably in the minority on this.

    As for Jose Lopez, I don’t think they’ve totally given up on the idea of him at shortstop, but he will probably get most of his playing time at second next year. He’ll also play some short, though, and some third as well, just to keep him sharp in case (gulp!) Beltre goes down.

    I really hope i didn’t just jinx him.

  36. firova on February 16th, 2005 5:21 pm

    Bret Boone is 2005’s Freddy Garcia. It bugs me because the fan in me likes continuity, though not quite as much as winning (and I wish more of the young pitchers had shown Garcia’s ability). Some people, though, seem to like rational expediture of funds and proper progression of talent better than either continuity or winning. Beane (who I grant has done his share of winning) would trade Boone in a heartbeat and be perfectly justified on the basis of savings alone.
    Whether it should be expected or not, does anyone here actually want Bret Boone to have a monster year? I think it is just as likely for Lopez to not be ready for the bigs this year and for the Mariners to be competing for the division title as it is for Boone to have a worse or better year than 2004. Would anyone here take a pennant race with Boone at second base, or has everyone written off 2005 and Boone with it? Or would we prefer that our predictions of a mediocre club come true with Boone traded so that our theories about how the club should be built will be validated? Personally, I think Lopez can wait a few months if it means the Mariners are playing meaningful games in September with number 5 or 6 hitter Bret Boone as a productive part of the lineup. Smart money says the Mariners should not resign Boone. OK, and if the Mariners did actually re-sign Boone amid predictable howls of protest, and he was productive, and the Mariners won in 2006, would everyone complain about how Boone is blocking Lopez or is overpaid? At what point does the sensible analysis take a back seat to simply enjoying a favorite player as long as the team is winning? It could be and has been argued that Ripken, Yount, Gwynn, and yes, Edgar Martinez stayed around too long, but baseball is about more than empiricism. Sometimes I think our hard-headed skepticism drains a bit of the romance from the game (not that free agency and insane front office moves don’t do the same thing). I guess I like Bret Boone and want the Mariners to win with him at second base, at least for now. I like continuity, though it is expensive and occassionally short-sighted. I’ll do my best not to pay attention to Boone’s RBI, even if he tops 100 again.

  37. Ralph Malph on February 16th, 2005 6:14 pm

    I can’t believe there is anyone here who wouldn’t want be happy if Bret Boone had and the M’s were in the pennant race in 2005.

    Wanting it to happen and rationally thinking it is likely to happen are entirely different things.

    If Boone has a good 2005, does that mean they should sign him for 2006? Unlikely. Obviously that depends on (1) how much $ he wants and for how long, and (2) what role he would want to play.

  38. Ralph Malph on February 16th, 2005 6:15 pm

    Let me try that first sentence again…

    I can’t believe there is anyone here who wouldn’t be happy if Bret Boone had a monster year and the M’s were in the pennant race in 2005.

    Carry on.

  39. The Ancient Mariner on February 16th, 2005 6:18 pm

    Hey, I like continuity too, but not at the expense of winning, and with every player there comes a point when keeping them around for the sake of the former compromises the latter. Count me in as one who thinks we’ll see some bounceback from Boone this season–somewhere north of halfway between ’04 and ’02, would be my completely unscientific guess–but I’d bet this will be the last season he’s even an acceptable starter in the bigs. Best-case scenario, imho, is that come July, he’s playing well and Lopez is playing well at 2B down at Cheney, and Bavasi is willing to flip Boone for the best deal.

  40. firova on February 16th, 2005 6:45 pm

    #37 and #38 are right, of course. I’m just feeling the sentiment of spring. It actually looks like Lopez may be one of the few analogs out there for Boone–a second baseman with some legitimate pop.

  41. Marty Lighthizer on February 16th, 2005 8:53 pm

    Re: #39
    That best-case scenario obviously assumes that Bavasi is good at thinking on his feet (a la Billy Beane), rather than Standing Pat.

  42. The Ancient Mariner on February 17th, 2005 11:04 am

    No, actually it assumes a situation that makes trading Boone an obvious good move–Boone hitting and fielding well, Lopez hitting and fielding well in Tacoma, and another team coming along and making an offer for Boone that clearly benefits Seattle. It wouldn’t require a best-case scenario for Billy Beane to deal Boone at the deadline.

  43. eponymous coward on February 17th, 2005 12:28 pm

    It’s going to be very hard to justify it to the team if the M’s are in a pennant race, though. Trading away a performing veteran for kids = goes over badly.

  44. paul mocker on February 17th, 2005 8:12 pm

    Here is an interesting way to establish the value of Boone: Who would Beane or Stoneham give up for him? Grant you that no one trades inter-division, but it tells me something that he did not try to trade for him last season when we could have helped the A’s. Beane chose Ginter instead, and that says a lot.

    And if we could flip him for a prospect, say a 19-year old at Single A or a 24 year old at AAA (think Ryan Garko, Cle, C), at the trade deadline even though we were 5 games out of first, would you do it?

  45. Sean on July 8th, 2005 1:56 pm

    Jeff’s poem about Boone turned out to be eerily prophetic.