More totally unjustified Vidro hatred

DMZ · May 5, 2007 at 9:24 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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)


22 Responses to “More totally unjustified Vidro hatred”

  1. Dave on May 5th, 2007 9:52 pm

    Vidro’s clearly changed his swing since the first week of the season, when the Turbo nickname was born and he was hitting groundballs every time up to the plate. He’s making a concerted effort to lift the ball now, and as Derek noted, it’s working – he’s getting the ball into the air more than he ever has. He realized he was too slow to keep hitting the ball on the ground and adjusted.

    The problem, though, is he doesn’t have any power, so hitting the ball in the air isn’t going to do any good either, as Derek notes.

    If Vidro was a minor league player showing this skillset, I’d write him off as a non-prospect. If you can’t hit for any power and you can’t run, you just lack the skills necessary to be a good major league hitter. Even Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs had the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. Vidro doesn’t even have that.

  2. awolfgang on May 5th, 2007 9:57 pm

    I think the M’s management loves him for his “plate presence.” And I agree, other than Ichiro-Kenji, he looks the most comfortable at the plate, but that’s just because all the rest are free swinging hackers. I mean, Dave Sims even pointed out, as a positive, that he thought Vidro leads the team in P/AB, of course Sims said he hadn’t seen any stats, just his impression. Unfortunately I think Bavasi and Hargrove are similar in player evaluation as Sims is. Sad, just sad.

  3. Sports on a Schtick on May 5th, 2007 10:02 pm

    I could almost live with Turbo’s lack of power if, you know, he wasn’t our freakin’ number three hitter.

  4. Mr. Egaas on May 5th, 2007 10:09 pm

    I think it’s time for a Lineup adjustment.

    Put Kenji in the 3 hole and bump Lopez up a bit. Betancourt needs to be hitting 9th. Vidro needs to be hitting 6th or lower.

  5. David J. Corcoran I on May 5th, 2007 10:22 pm

    No way in hell they drop Vidro while he’s still hitting in the .280s.

    Whether they should though…well…as a fan, I really enjoy watching Jose Vidro play baseball.

    Just because he’s fun to watch doesn’t make him good, so I would agree that he should be dropped.

  6. carcinogen on May 5th, 2007 10:48 pm

    Turbo is the kind of guy that would love playing in Coors Field. Oh Rockies, can we have Brian Fuentes back?

  7. JMHawkins on May 5th, 2007 10:49 pm

    Funny, Ichiro is not known for taking a lot of pitches, and he leads the team in P/PA. Of course, he does it by fouling off a half-dozen balls, almost like he’s punishing the pitcher for having the gall to go strike two on him.

    As for Vidro, why don’t we do what most playoff teams do, just rotate our regular OFs and 1B through the DH slot? That what NY, Minnesota, and the Los Angeles Anaheims of Angeland do, and between them, they’ve taken 7 out of the 10 AL division titles over the last three years (giving BOS and NY a tie in 2005). None of those teams had one guy DH even half their games in those division winning years. They just rotated their regular position players through the spot. Some guys – usually older or slower, like Giambi or Tim Salmon, got more games at DH, but none of them was a full-time DH.

    We’ve got Wlad and Morse hitting .371/.442/.629 and .353/.407/.500 in Tacoma, and that’s through 100 ABs. Either would be making about $3M less per year than Turbo, and would give us the chance to sit some regulars. Plus, those guys might conceivably get better over the next couple of years.

    Of course, there’s also Broussard, who has as many HRs in 17 ABs as Vidro has in 101, but I guess we need him on the bench in case Sexson gets hurt.

  8. Tak on May 5th, 2007 11:01 pm

    Exactly. Obviously he is not a very good DH, but he is even worse when looking at him as a number three hitter. I do not think I am the only one who feels a lineup adjustment is needed. Speaking of lineup adjustments, Vidro’s lack of power is a problem in the #3 spot, but Sexson’s overall suckiness is a bigger concern. First of all I don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten benched yet, but put that aside, why not at least move him somewhere else in the lineup?

    Anyhow, lineup adjustments won’t have such a huge impact on the offense, but at least it looks like a start. It would be cool to hear some opinions from the experts here on how the lineup should be adjusted. My personal suggestion is:

    Ichiro – Vidro – Beltre – Kenji – Raul – Guillen – Sexson – Lopez – Betancourt

  9. Sports on a Schtick on May 6th, 2007 12:17 am

    Put Vidro lower in the lineup. I’d rather those extra at-bats go to Lopez or Betancourt. They don’t get on base as much as Turbo but at least they have some speed and power.

  10. NBarnes on May 6th, 2007 12:47 am

    3: If he weren’t being paid seven trillionty dollars a minute and weren’t DHing. If he were 24, being paid minimum, and played league average shortstop, I’d be ecstatic.

  11. Mat on May 6th, 2007 1:01 am

    File under “guys who shouldn’t be hitting third”:

    .339/.363/.411 — Mike Redmond, 2006, 180 AB
    .307/.358/.376 — Jose Vidro, 2007, 101 AB

    Everything’s all hunky-dory when the ball finds holes, but once you start hitting .240 for a while, you’re a complete offensive sinkhole.

  12. mln on May 6th, 2007 2:40 am

    Broussard should get more at-bats, whether that be in place of Vidro at DH or for Sexson at first.

    The only way that he sees more time is if either of these guys gets hurt. Hargrove seems intent on playing Sexson no matter how much he struggles. That guy is now ranked 83rd in OPS in the AL.

  13. Jared on May 6th, 2007 7:03 am

    There’s what should happen and what will happen. What should happen is that Vidro, Weaver & Sexson should all be gone getting whatever (probably nothing) for them. Let Baek or Woods pitch and play Broussard at first, Wlad in LF with Raul converting to DH.

    What will happen is that we won’t be far enough out of it to fire Hargrove or trade Sexson. Probably Weaver won’t last too long, but I bet they send him to the bullpen rather than release him.

    There’s definitely signs of life and there’s been some enjoyable games but I still think the most realistic goal would be to finish over .500 And unless the Angels pitching staff gets caught on a Minnesota Vikings Style Cruise Ship together, that’s not going to be enough to win our division.

  14. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on May 6th, 2007 7:06 am

    Although you’ve obviously tried to cut such comments off at the pass, prepare for the “You are just a Mariner hater, and good job giving other teams the recipe to stop Vidro! We’ve taken 1 of 2 from the freakin Yankees in the Bronx with sucky pitching” comments.

    Nice analysis of what many of us have intuitively felt is “lucky” hitting. I’ve watched his extra base numbers closely for some time, and usually weep afterward. In yesterday’s game, he almost got thrown out going from 1st to 2nd on a Mariners hit that dropped in. Granted he probably thought the ball was going to be caught, but it was close to not being close. I can live with a guy who runs well trying to turn a play into an extra base and not making it or nearly getting thrown out. I can’t live with a guy hitting a routine single and nearly getting thrown out when a league average hitter would be safe by a mile or a guy trying to simply advance one base on an average hit and still being a liability for a fiedler’s choice. It’s laughable.

  15. Paul B on May 6th, 2007 8:03 am

    As we know, who is in the lineup is more important than the order. Having said that, I’d be looking closely at OBP when setting a lineup.

    Unfortunately, not counting Ellison or Burke, Vidro is doing the best in getting on base amongst the M hackandslashers.

    So, it’s not like there are lots of good choices for the top and middle of this lineup.

    Also, Hargrove, unfortunately, uses BA combined with a misguided belief in “protection” when setting his lineup. So don’t look for any creative changes.

  16. MtGrizzly on May 6th, 2007 8:22 am

    So instead of the second coming of Gar, what we’ve really got is the second coming of Felix Fermin?

  17. msb on May 6th, 2007 9:36 am

    hey! Turbo is Rizzsy’s Pick To Click today!

  18. feingarden on May 6th, 2007 9:37 am

    DMZ – One line of your initial post exposes what is proving to be my complete ignorance of a sport I’ve followed for many years. Specifically, I’d like to know a) how “replacement level” is defined and b) how .307/.358/.376 translates into runs over/under replacement level. I’m sure there is a “stats for idiots” page somewhere that you can refer me to, and I’d be grateful. Thanks.

  19. Dave on May 6th, 2007 9:58 am
  20. Graham on May 6th, 2007 10:03 am

    Why don’t BP take replacement level to be ‘the average of everyone playing a position beneath the top 30 in at-bats’?

  21. Dave on May 6th, 2007 10:15 am

    Because bench players are selected for different reasons than starters. Most teams have a guy in Triple-A who can hit at a lot of positions, but managers prefer to have speedy/defensive types playing utility roles on their 25 man roster.

  22. feingarden on May 6th, 2007 12:39 pm

    DOH! Shoulda known. Thanks.

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