Branyan’s Regression

Dave · June 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Over the last couple of weeks, both here and at FanGraphs, I pointed out that Russell Branyan was due for some regression. In April, his batting average on balls in play was .405. In May, it was .391. Those are just not sustainable numbers, regardless of how well you’re swinging the bat. The normal range of true talent BABIP is something like .260 to .360, with slow sluggers on the low end and slap-hitting speedsters on the high side. There was just no way that Branyan was going to keep posting a .390 BABIP.

And, we were totally right. Branyan’s BABIP in June has crashed down to a more normal .316. Take a look at how it’s affected his monthly totals:

April: .333/.415/.614
May: .317/.412/.614
June: .290/.410/.613

Hilariously, Branyan has responded to the regression in his ball in play hit rate by cutting down on his strikeouts and hitting the crap out of the ball, even more so than earlier in the season. As you can see, it would have been basically impossible for him to be any more consistent in his OBP/SLG performance by month, even if the way he’s getting there changed.

Branyan has been everything we hoped Jeff Clement would turn into, but with better defense at first base. For all the consternation of Clement’s lack of development/injury problems/whatever, we’ve got a guy who is continuing to prove that he’s one of the better left-handed power hitters in the game. This signing couldn’t have possibly worked out any better.


61 Responses to “Branyan’s Regression”

  1. Manzanillos Cup on June 12th, 2009 5:05 pm

    who thinks Branyan hits the highest homeruns in baseball?

    Well, here HitTracker has a lot of HRs as having higher apexes than Branyan’s last night, for instance. The average launch angle on his shots over 400 ft does seem pretty steep, though.

    HitTracker is so, so cool.

  2. Axtell on June 12th, 2009 5:20 pm

    In the meantime, there’s a lot of work to be done: anyone else notice that ESPN is publishing run differential in its standings?

    They have been publishing that for a while…shocking to see how far in front the Dodgers are over everyone else, they have been for awhile, and all this without Manny.

    What is new is the #P stat in the game logs, which shows the total number of pitches each batter saw.

    As far as Branyan goes, I am torn. The guy has been killing the ball, our only true consistent power threat, and the M’s got the off-season signing of the year in getting him for just over a million bucks. He’s going to be offered a ridiculous sum of money for long term deals by more than one team, and, I’m afraid, that isn’t the move the M’s need to make. A 3 year deal to a guy who’s never been given an everday chance before is too high a risk I’d personally be willing to take, even though I love his game.

    He says he wants to stay in Seattle, and I believe him. He’s come into his own here. But I wouldn’t blame him if some team offers him a 3 year deal for $30 million that the M’s can’t or won’t match.

  3. joser on June 12th, 2009 5:24 pm

    Yeah if he goes out on the market and gets a three-year, $30 million offer we should NOT try to match it. But two years at $6.5 million isn’t going to kill us.
    Then you roll the best of Nelson / Carp / Shelton / Clement group into the DH/PH role, or deal them.

    Wait, why do you want to sign the old guy and deal the kids?

    BTW, since it came up here and Dave mentioned him in the post, so it would seem to be within the bounds of the topic: Drayer reports that Clement has started catching bullpen sessions.

  4. wabbles on June 12th, 2009 5:24 pm

    I’m a big Branyan fan. Heck, he can even run the bases better than a lot of his teammates. I was brought back to Earth though when I commented that he was the position player’s Paul Abbott (picked off the scrap heap). I was reminded that Abbott was good for about one year maybe 1.5 years. So yeah, maybe resign him for 2010 until Carp and Company move up I-5 but let’s not get too attached to him. Those Edgar-Boone-Olerud-Speizio-Vidro-etc.-etc.-etc. career collapses have been too numerous around here and are too painful to watch.

  5. joser on June 12th, 2009 5:30 pm

    What is new is the #P stat in the game logs, which shows the total number of pitches each batter saw.

    I don’t know about the game logs, but they’ve supplied #P/PA on the individual player cards for several years.

  6. dingla on June 12th, 2009 5:49 pm

    Willie was especially precious. Just ask the fine citizens of Port Orchard, WA.


  7. wabbles on June 12th, 2009 5:51 pm

    And I seem to remember us having this same discussion about Jose Guillen. “We caught lightning in a bottle, we can’t possibly do it again. Let’s sign him to a three-year deal.” Or at least that was our fear.

  8. Omerta on June 12th, 2009 7:34 pm

    Perhaps someone wiser than me on this issue can answer…I know Branyan has played a substantial amount of 3rd in his career, would it be feasible to stick him there next season and free up some room for a Clement or Carp? I’m aware he wouldn’t be a gold glover, but would the drop-off defensively be more than our infield could bear?

  9. egreenlaw9 on June 12th, 2009 9:12 pm

    You know, there’s nothing wrong with “old-player skills” as long as you’re not paying superstar money for them. “Old-player skills” is not shorthand for “crappy” or “done”. Branyan’s a great pickup for that reason. What you want to avoid is seeing those skills in action in the first or second year of a long contract. I’m loving Branyan right now, but I don’t want to see him playing first base here in 2014.

    That began to piss me off… but then you totally got what I was saying.

    Having old player skills isn’t a bad thing, but it can precipitate a quick fall of a tall cliff.

    Branyan is flipping awesome. But so was Boone in 2001. 2 years is a good thank you, and anything more is just stupid. Especially given that 1B is our most stacked position in the minors right now.

  10. The Ancient Mariner on June 13th, 2009 6:55 am

    No, we didn’t have this discussion about Guillen — he was a completely different case. The “fear” there was that the M’s would fail to offer him arbitration and thus lose the draft pick (which, of course, they did).

  11. joser on June 13th, 2009 11:46 am

    Perhaps someone wiser than me on this issue can answer…I know Branyan has played a substantial amount of 3rd in his career, would it be feasible to stick him there next season and free up some room for a Clement or Carp?

    People keep asking this, and the data is as close as fangraphs. As a 1B so far this year, he’s at -1.5 UZR/150 ; his historical numbers at 3B are -6.9 UZR/150 (assuming he hasn’t slowed any). Beltre at 3B is +16 right now (and +13 for his career) so you’re looking at a two plus win swing there. Branyan might not be a complete embarrassment at 3rd, but he would be taking away in the field a big chunk of what he gives with his bat. The guy you plug in at 1B has to be that much better to make up for it.

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