Projecting new Mariner Griffey’s offense
Some people sure are impatient. Here’s a reader email from today:
Subject: put your money where youre keyboard is
If your SO confident that Griffey is going to be a bust… why not
make your stat prediction on his 2009 season.. and when you’re
wrong… shut your negative “I know best” additude down, and start
writing about dog shows or something, ya hack!!
I say this because I can see (just in the last 2 days from my reading)
your still bashing your forum members, calling them names, and
censoring their opinions just like you always have.. does your high
horse get tired from time to time?
As always, reader service is our #1 priority here at USSM.
Let me start with the obvious stuff, and then get into refinements. Over the last three years, Griffey’s averaged 132 games a season, 482 at-bats, and put up about a .260/.350/.470 line, which is a little over league average but not that good for a corner outfielder (2008 AL LFers hit .271/.350/.453, NL .267/.336/.430). His speed on the basepaths is entirely gone now, along with any remnant of defensive value. So the team’s not going to get any value out of sticking him left part-time.
And as we’ve mentioned before, left-handed pitchers have owned him for years. You really don’t want him out there against southpaws if there’s any way to avoid it (last year, he hit .202/.299/.350).
There’s good news there, though. Here’s his split v. RHP for the last three years
That’s where you want to get your value: 400 or so quality plate appearances against right-handed pitching.
The problem is Griffey’s been on a pretty steep decline these last few years, and headed into a year-39 season, there’s no reason to think that he’ll do much better. His 2005 was easily the best season he’d put up since 2000, and that performance is three years of injuries in the past. That was a .300/.369/.576, which is certainly impressive. But that’s it — his other seasons have been shortened when they weren’t generally unremarkable.
Now, I was going to present a whole series of small graphs on the decline of his power stats, but from the Ken Griffey player page, here’s the Fangraphs ISO chart, which is great:
The bat’s not coming back. A resurgence will only get you so far. Even when the knee was good, the offensive decline was trouble. Moving from a hitter-friendlier parks to Safeco Field isn’t going to help his raw stats, either.
Anyway, back to the point. Here’s what I’m hoping for: Griffey’s a pure DH against RHP. He gets 400 good plate appearances and is a solid contributor to the offense, hitting .270/.360/.465 or something along those lines — 15-20 home runs. I’ll point out too that it’s really, really hard to hit the 30+ home runs I’ve seen people want to get out of a healthy, happy Griffey without having play full time and hit lefties, and he hasn’t been able to do the former often and hasn’t done the latter for a long time.
That’s a pretty effective replacement for Ibanez’s bat (Raul hit .293/.358/.479 last year), and we’d all be happy with it.
Now to poke at the best case a bit. That plan requires Griffey to be healthy for a whole year, to be a part-time DH, not playing the outfield at all, and to only decline a little. To deal with these in order:
If Griffey’s not healthy and misses stretches or his performance is hampered, his value declines quickly because they’re already platooning for him. We’re also giving him the benefit of the knee story, and hoping that he’s 100% effective and the power comes back as much as it can. You can assign your own value to how likely the best-case-healthy-Griffey is.
If Griffey bats against left-handers, he’s probably going to stink (you never know, right, small sample sizes and everything) and those outs will take away from the value contributed the rest of the time. Plus, extra playing time might not be the best thing for keeping him healthy.
If he plays the outfield at all, he’ll be killing the team.
We’ve seen this, right? Griffey’s way out on the margins of player age already. Hitting is amazingly hard. But at his age, with that decline, with his injury history, collapse is a risk. There’s probably a 25% chance Griffey ends up sucking way more than I expect, grinding through the season hitting .250/.325/.410 with every game a little more painful to play and watch.
Now, what do you think the chance he hits the best-case numbers is? 25%-40% he hits .270/.360/.465, a 10% chance he does better, then 25%-40% he does somewhat worse, and a 25% chance he finishes out the ugly .250/.325/.410 year.
I really want to believe in the best-case.