Game 152: Rangers at Mariners

marc w · September 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Andrew Cashner, 7:10pm

Happy Felix Day. Let’s hope the festivities last a bit longer than last time, when the M’s limited Felix to 3+ solid innings as El Rey worked on rebuilding his stamina after missing so much time.

I spoke a bit about CF Guillermo Heredia in yesterday’s post. He’s perfectly good against lefties, but struggles against righties thus far in his MLB career. He’s a good but not great defender, but clearly has some modicum of value in the game. His opposite number in today’s game, Delino DeShields, is a good comparison, and maybe a version of what a “good” Heredia season would look like. He’s also a former Rule 5 guy. DeShields had some prospect sheen at one point, the result of a famous father and 83 stolen bases at one stop in the minors. His bat was streaky, and I think many assumed he’d never hit. After a down year, the Rangers plucked him from the Astros system (I really want to know what ratio of current MLB’ers spent some time in the Astros system) and he had a decent year for them. Nothing special, as DeShields’ lack of power makes it hard to put up huge offensive numbers – just like Heredia. Their peak simply can’t be that high, but their speed and defensive position raise their floor at the same time. DeShields was abysmal last year, providing the worst case scenario view for Heredia, but he’s bounced back this year, and has put up 2.5 fWAR thus far, solidly better than MLB average. He’s done it with a Gamel-esque combination of moderately high strikeouts and very little power, which is a bad start, admittedly, but he then adds a good walk rate and makes up nearly a win with his speed and baserunning ability. If Heredia really wants to ensure himself a spot on someone’s roster for 5-6 years, that’s where he needs to improve. His speed/baserunning runs above average stand at -1.6.

Beyond that, DeShields’ success shows that there are a variety of ways to add value when you can play a big-league-caliber CF, which is why he got opportunities even after scouts worried he’d never hit. The “no bat” thing got him left unprotected in Rule 5, while the “can catch/run” thing got him a big league chance. What’s fascinating is that *in that same Rule 5 draft* the Rangers lost a CF who’d also go on to post above-average seasons by fWAR. They acquired DeShields with the 3rd pick, and then lost Odubel Herrera to the Phillies at #8. Herrera went on to post a 4 win season the next year with a rebuilding Phillies club, and did it in a similar way to DeShields: Herrera struck out about 1/4 of the time, and while he had fractionally more power, it’s not enough to separate him from the Heredias and DeShields of the world. He didn’t have quite the same baserunning ability as DeShields, but a bit more pop and an even better defensive rating led to a surprisingly valuable season.

So, what’s the point? I have good news and bad news for Mr. Heredia. The good news is that it’s possible to turn in a very useful season with his profile. It doesn’t work at all in a corner, which is why I’ve been lukewarm on Gamel, but it absolutely can in CF. There are things Heredia needs to work on for it to actually happen, but they’re not things like “now be able to hit 25 HRs” or “cut your K% in half.” The bad news is: so can a hell of a lot people. Two CFs in a single Rule 5 draft have already reached what, the 90th percentile outcome for Heredia? An even better sometimes-CF used to play SS for the M’s before getting frozen out and dumped to the Dodgers in a change of scenery deal. The M’s have some speed/defense guys with bats that project…questionably in the majors. Heredia needs to hold them off and hope the M’s don’t look to the open market for an upgrade at the position the way they did last year.

1: Segura, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Alonso, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Gamel, LF
9: Heredia, CF
SP: El Cartelua

Speaking of Rule 5 guys, the Astros UTIL guy Marwin Gonzalez is another Rule 5 guy turned above-average regular. The sometimes-3B entered play yesterday tied with Kyle freaking Seager in fWAR, and came out of it with a slight lead. Guess they should call him Morewins Gonzalez, amiright?

This is Marc, and I’d like to say the above note was written by a member of my staff, not me personally. We’ll find the culprit and deal with him/her severely.


4 Responses to “Game 152: Rangers at Mariners”

  1. nvn8vbryce on September 20th, 2017 8:28 pm

    Yeah, that wasn’t the Felix we were looking for.

  2. LongDistance on September 20th, 2017 11:54 pm

    I was hoping they’d at least play out the season. Why would anyone actually take the trouble to go to a game?

  3. mrakbaseball on September 21st, 2017 2:54 am

    If they had free tickets. I can’t imagine paying to see the Mariners.

  4. Bremerton guy on September 21st, 2017 4:14 pm

    Yeah. I went. Tickets were free. What a depressing evening. In the 4th inning Felix lost focus and couldn’t get it back. Cano seemed like he didn’t care, and Haniger and Seager made stupid errors. And a few innings later, Gamel made a boneheaded baserunning mistake, the kind you’d see in a beer league softball game, not at the highest level in the game. Alonso came up twice in spots where a hit could have turned the outcome around, and both times he turned over weak grounders to the right side, ending the innings with runners in scoring position both times. Ugh.

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