More totally unjustified Vidro hatred
I’m just trying to get ahead of the comment curve with that title.
We’re about a full sixth through the season, and Vidro’s over a hundred at-bats, which means we can look at the stats a little more seriously.
He’s hitting .307/.358/.376 — making him, in terms of replacement level, two runs over replacement level. Which is bad. Not that this is a good-hitting club right now, but for Kenji.
And a side note: let’s compare Vidro with someone he’s frequently and entirely without merit compared to at the same age.
Vidro, 2007: 24 G, 101 AB, 109 PA, 31 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 13 R, 8 RBI, 8 BB (0 IBB), 9 K, 4 GDP
X, 1995: 27 G, 96 AB, 110 PA, 34 H, 12 2B, 4 HR, 22 R, 16 RBI, 14 BB (5 IBB) 18 K, 2 GDP
Vidro, 2007: .307/.358/.376
X, 1995: .354/.436/.604
Yeah, that’s Edgar at the same age. Let’s forgo wasting any more time on that comparison. So what’s up with Vidro, anyway? What part of his glorious prime hasn’t been restored? I’ll compare him here to his 2000-2002 prime with the Expos.
Walks: he’s not walking as often
Strikeouts: not striking out as often, either
Power: the power’s almost entirely gone. In 2000-2002, his isolated power was .210, .167/ .176. Now it’s .069. It’d been on the decline for a while, but this is almost lights out. He 176 out of 194 players who qualify for the batting title right now, tied with Joe Crede. That’s really bad.
Average: the average is good, a little off the career high, but his batting average on balls in play is .322 – significantly off his career highs.
A somewhat bright spot: his ~1.11 ground/fly ratio (varies a little depending on what stat source you’re looking at) is way off his career rate of 1.6. With his legs shot, there’s no way he should be trying to put the ball on the ground and racing it out. And he’s not doing that nearly as much as he once did.
But here’s the downside – he’s not hitting line drives. At his best, he hit about 22% line drives, and now he’s down to 16%. His fly ball percentage, at 39%, is a full 10% above his career average. But at least he’s getting them out of the infield – his infield fly ball /total fly ball rate is 2.8%, which is so low it’s shocking.
As hard as this may be to believe, the percent of his hits that are infield hits (infield hits/ground balls) is historically high, at 12.2%.
Or, to put this together: he’s not walking or striking out as much, so he’s putting the ball in play, and producing a lot more fly-outs to the outfielders. When he’s putting the ball on the ground, he’s been luckier than you’d expect. Yow.
Another indicator of his absent power: his HR/FB ratio is 5.6%, which is where it was last year, which was a dropoff from the 2005 8%, which was a drop from the days when he had some power, and was at 12% and sometimes more than that.
What’s all that fancy stat quoting really mean, though? There’s no evidence that Vidro has any power remaining. You can go to your local nursery and buy high-quality dirt that runs faster than he does. He hasn’t improved his plate discipline with age. All of his value now is tied up in his batting average, and his batting average so far’s included a fair component of luck. If he’s going to make the most of the dying ember of his talent, it’s going to be what we’ve seen so far – trying to loft the ball a little, hoping it drops in front of a charging outfielder. But there’s a problem with that.
Look at his hit chart for Safeco: all singles, all but two dropped in a little shy of halfway to the walls. His fly outs include a cluster popped behind second, and a few fly outs farther back, but mostly they’re the exact same spots as the singles.
If you were facing Vidro, you’d bring your outfielders in, and then Vidro’d be destroyed as a hitter. Other teams have all this information, and people on the payroll that work it out. This adjustment’s not going to take smart teams long.
And if those hits are what’s keeping Vidro from absolute ineffectiveness and teams can turn them into outs, what then? Does he adjust, or does the Moose come out with a giant comedy hook and pull Vidro out of the batter’s box at the 0-50 mark?
We gotta hope for adjust.
Update: as noted in the comments, Vidro’s been praised for his plate approach. This is ridiculous. Vidro sees 3.4 P/PA. Of regulars, Ichiro is tops at 3.91, followed by Beltre (3.85), Ibanez (3.78), and Betancourt (3.49). He’s tied with Guillen and ahead of only Lopez (3.15)