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Thinking of the Giants 2012 Outfield

November 29, 2011

So the first thing I want to do is introduce myself as the other writer at this site. My general philosophy is stats first but I am not as opposed to sacrifice bunting and stealing as most sabermetricly inclined people. I am a huge Giants fan and I am excited to share my first post with you.

Overall the Giants outfielders produced a total of 7.9 fWAR good for 19th in the league. The league average for outfield WAR was about 9.1 WAR which further affirms the fact that the Giants outfield was far from great.

Recently Brian Sabean has fired his first salvo into solving the outfield woes by trading Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera. So now with Melky, what becomes of the Giants outfield? Do we need to sign another outfielder? Will Schierholtz start in right? Belt in left? In this article I am going to try to look at the Giants outfield in 2010 and look at the possibilities for improvement in the Giants 2012 outfield.

So before I start let’s go over the Giants’ outfield in 2011.

Year in Review

Center

Torres: He was the Giants second best position player at 2.1 WAR. He played amazing defense, saving a total of 9.4 runs by UZR and ran the bases well contributing 1.4 runs there. However 2011 Torres suffered from major regression having his batting line fall from .268/.343/.479 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 2010 to .221/.312/.330. The most disturbing fact was that Torres’ power in 2010 fell off a cliff in 2011.

Ross: 2011 was not as much of a down year with the bat for Ross as you might think. He hit for about .14 points below his AVG at .240 but his .325 OBP kept with his career average .325.  wRC+ put Ross at 102 and wOBA at .325 which says he was about league average. UZR put him at -5.5 runs which I also find hard to believe from ye old eye test. Overall Ross had a 0.9 WAR season which was below the league average 2.0 WAR. Though you have to take into account that he only played played 121 games due to injury. Still it was a sub par season seeing that he failed to amas even a single WAR.

Rowand: Got released in late August. Pretty much that’s all that can be said.

Corner

Huff: He spent a few games in the OF and played terrible defense.

Beltran: Beltran only played 44 games for the Giants. When he was hot, he raked. In 44 games and 179 PA he put up 1.2 WAR which was second for all the Giant outfielders.

Belt: Played pretty good defense in the OF putting up a 0.4 runs saved by UZR seeing that he only spent 32 games and 241.2 innings in the OF, though it was incredibly low sample size so there needs to be some caution taken in these reports. He also put up a 98 wRC+ and .314 wOBA meaning he was essentially a league average hitter.

Burrell: Was injured for a large part of the season. Also he didn’t start that many games in the OF.

Schierholtz: 2011 was a breakout season for Schierholtz. In 362 PA he put up a .278 BA with a .326 OBP and a .430 SLG. He was an about an average hitter wOBA at .327 and wRC+ at 107 (100 being the average). That would have sounded unfathomable a year ago. Paired with his above average defense (UZR gave him a -0.9 rating but I think that is an aberration), Schierholtz was one of the Giants better players before he got injured late in the season.

Looking to the Future

The Giants have already taken their first step to improve the outfield by trading for Melky Cabrera. Also Bobby Evans, the Giants VP of baseball operations, did say that the Giants may add an outfield bat but doesn’t envision any major changes. So who are the Giants outfield options for 2011?

In House

Cabrera: He is the new shiny addition to the Giants Outfield. Last year he put up a 4.4 WAR season in KC with a .305/.339/.470 triple slash line. I don’t see him repeating that in 2012. His 2011 BABIP of .332 will probably regress seeing that he has a career BABIP of .299. Also don’t look for him to repeat his 18 HR season as he amassed them in hitter friendly Kauffman stadium. According to the ESPN home run tracker only 4 of his his home runs were No Doubters(ones that would go out in any park) and 5 were Just Enoughers(ones that barely made it over the fence). Meaning that some of his home run balls in KC will likely turn into outs in AT&T. Melky does not walk much either so the likely regression in his batting average will hurt his offensive value. Furthermore, Cabrera does not play good defense as he has been worth a total of -23.6 runs(according to UZR) over his 5 year career, and I hope that AT&T’s spacious grounds do not expose his bad defensive play. Which brings up the question whether he can play Center Field(which he will most likely do) at AT&T or whether he will be relegated to a corner slot. One thing he does have going in his favor is his physical conditioning. Like the Panda, Melky went through an intense physical conditioning before the 2011 season. I hope that the conditioning was the reason he put up such gaudy numbers rather than just pure luck. My best guess is that Cabrera’s BABIP will regress from .332 to .315 and his HR’s will drop to 10, showing his dedication to physical fitness contributed a large potion to his success. However, I will be a little bullish and say that he could be a legitimate 3 WAR player.

Belt: Huff is most likely the starting first baseman in 2012, meaning that Belt will need a place to play. That is most likely going to be Left Field. Though I foresee a problem, if the Giants do go ahead and sign an outfield bat (which I hope they do), where will Belt end up? Bochy has gone ahead and stated that Nate will most likely be the starting RF in 2012 and Melky will no doubt be an everyday player. That leaves the new FA or Trade addition for the third OF spot leaving Belt out of the mix. I really hope that does not happen. I do think in that case Belt should get the playing time over Schierholtz but its really hard to punish Nate to a bench role after having a breakout year. This dilema puts the Giants at a huge impasse. Something will have to budge and I fear in a playing time debate Nate will win out over Belt.

Schierholtz: Bochy has named him the starting Right Fielder. Though that could change with a free agent or trade addition(See Belt).

Torres: I hope Torres is tendered a contract. He is good enough to be the Giants starting CF in 2012. Honestly I don’t think Melky in Center will be that much of an upgrade over Torres. He plays elite defense and he showed some offensive prowess in 2009 and 2010. Even in a down year he still put up 2.1 WAR good enough to be second for all Giants position players. Even if Melky is the starting Center Fielder, Torres still has value as a late inning defensive replacement and a pinch runner. If Torres gets any significant playing time I see him at least being a league average, 2 WAR player just because of his excellent defense.

Huff: I really really really do not want to see him play outfield. Bochy did say that he wanted Huff in shape to play the outfield in 2012. It would pain me to see more dropped flyballs and bad routes. I had enough of that in 2010 and 2011. Belt is a much better option in LF.

Free Agents

Beltran: I would love to see Beltran re-signed. He the type of hitter the Giants need. I only fear his jello knees extended to a 3 or 4 year contract. If Beltran can be healthy (a BIG if) he could be a 4 or 5 WAR player for the Giants. Beltran has the on base and slugging abilities that this Giants team desperately needed. Affirmed by Beltran’s 2011 .910 OPS vs the Giants dreadful .671 OPS. Even if Beltran, over the life of his new contract, kept with his career numbers of 279/.369/.480 wOBA .367 numbers he would still be far better than all but one of the 2011 Giants. (That one is Pablo)

Ross: Ross is an option for the Giants but I honestly don’t see where he fits in. I would rather see Belt in LF and Nate in RF over Ross. He has shown that he likes playing in San Francisco. However, I can’t see him as anything more than a platoon mate with Nate as he crushes lefties with a .272/.342/.521 line.

Burrell: Most likely retiring. Though I would love to see him return to the Giants in a bench roll.

DeJesus: I think DeJesus is a viable option for the Giants. He is wants to reestablish his value after a down year and is looking for a one year deal. He will not be that expensive with a salary less than $10 Million. So he should fit into the Giants tight budget. He has a career OBP of .356 and can play all three outfield spots. He would be a great fit for the Giants leadoff spot as he can run the bases with 2.7 BsR in 2011 along with his high OBP skills. He also doesn’t play bad defense with 39 Runs Saved over his 6 year career. He is someone I hope the Giants target and I see him as a legitimate alternative to signing Beltran.

Willingham: He does not play that great defense nor run the bases well but he can hit for decent power from LF with a his .460 SLG and he does get on base with a .352 OBP in 2011. I wouldn’t mind signing Willingham now that he will not cost a draft pick, per the new CBA. However he will require a multiyear deal in the range of 2 – 3 years and he does have an injury history so I would watch out. I don’t think he would be a bad signing but I also do not think he is the greatest option.

Crisp: I don’t want to sign Coco. I know Roy is a fan of his but I just cannot get over his of .314 OBP last year. He just does not have the plate dicipline to hit leadoff. He also only put up 2.2 WAR in 2011. He will likely require a multiyear deal that will be total over $10 million. Compare that to Torres who put up 2.1 WAR in 2011 and will be much cheeper requiring a contract of around $2.5 million (via MLBTraderumors estimated salaries) on a 1 year deal.

After writing this article I have come to the conclusion that the Giants should target Carlos Beltran or David DeJesus in the free agent market. If they acquire DeJesus make him the CF or if they sign Beltran make him the RF. If the Giants stay with in house options I would not be opposed to a Cabrera, Schierholtz, and Belt but thats assuming that Mekly and Nate would not fall to far from the strides they made last year where Belt on the other hand finally adjusts to major league pitching.

Check out the upcoming Part 2 of this article where I will project the Giants outfield and see which would be the best outfield for the Giants.

Stats from Fangraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gayfrank permalink
    November 30, 2011 2:38 PM

    So umm, why write like a high school essay? With an intro paragraph saying what the essay is all about? But anyways, no way cab is putting up a babip of 315. He’s too slow even with better shape. His fb/gb says he’s not going to hit for high babip. He never hadthe natural physical ability that sandoval has so that comparison seems very optimistic. And you really want to invest 3-5 year contract on a later 30’s, weak knee-ed of? Smells like another Rowand to me. And “from ye old eye test”??? are you secretly Aubrey Huff? Who says that?

    -gayfrank

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