Food For Thought
Here’s two pretty similar players with slightly different approaches at bat, but overall, basically the same skills – you pick the one you would rather have. The differences aren’t huge, but they are there.
3.0% BB%, 8.5% K%, 52.6% Swing%, 32.1% O-Swing%, 85.5% Contact%, 20.1% LD%, 3.40 Pitches Per PA
4.8% BB%, 8.7% K%, 49.4% Swing%, 28.65% O-Swing%, 88.5% Contact%, 21.1% LD%, 3.61 Pitchers Per PA
Player A walks a little less, swing a little more often, swings at a few more pitches out of the strike zone (that’s O-Swing%), makes a little less contact, and swings a bit earlier in the count. Player B is a bit more patient, does a better job of not chasing balls, and puts the bat on the ball more often, while hitting a few more line drives.
Player A is 2007 Kenji Johjima. Player B is 2008 Kenji Johjima.
Yes, Kenji just had a terrible year, and yes, the contract is a pretty big albatross. But as the Mariners prepare for 2009, they had better recognize that if they’re looking for evidence that Johjima’s skills as a hitter disappeared for good in 2008, it’s not there. The only real difference between 2007 Johjima and 2008 Johjima was in his batting average on balls in play – .291 in ’07 versus .233 last year.
Based on his batted ball data, we would have projected his 2007 OPS to be close to .785 – it was .755. Based on his batted ball data, we would have projected his 2008 OPS to be close to .765 – it was .609.
Because he’s slow, he’ll probably never match his batted ball projected OPS, but you’d have to be nuts to think there wasn’t a pretty significant amount of non-skill noise in Johjima’s 2008 results. Filter out that noise, and the 2009 expectation of Johjima’s performance suddenly looks quite a bit better. Let’s not give up on him yet, okay?