Friday, 7 December 2012

Now That We've Won the World Series...

Hey.  So the Jays have made some improvements this offseason.  I think it's fairly well established that the Jays are going to win the World Series this year, and probably another dozen or so in the near future.  I just kind of feel like pointing something out to anybody who hasn't noticed it yet (for what it's worth, I'm sure a lot of people have noticed this already).

See, Melky Cabrera had a ridiculous stat line over the first 100 or so games last year, before ultimately getting suspended for PED use.  He probably won't ever hit as well as he did last season ever again.  Whether or not it was PED-related isn't really my point though.  Cabrera finished last season with a .379 babip, the sixth highest babip in the league (of players with 300+ AB's).

One of those players was Joey Votto (.404), who had a 30.2% line drive rate, and a 1% pop-up rate.  That babip is probably pretty close to his expected one, though I've never bothered to check.  His career babip is .359, so it may have been a slight outlier.

Dexter Fowler (.390) is another player who ranked higher than Melky.  He has a career .353 babip, and is fast as shit.  Again, lots of liners, and a reasonably low popup rate helped boost the average, but there was probably a bit of fortune there.

Mike Trout had a .383 babip in his first full season, and is probably due a slight regression just by looking at his batted ball profile, but it's tough to say with that sample size.

Torii Hunter had very little change in his batted ball profile, but babip'ed 80 points higher than his career norm.  He's also 38. That was all luck.

That brings us to Melky; he's had back-to-back high-babip seasons, and he's at or around his prime years, so its certainly possible that he's just the kind of guy who gets higher babips than your average player, but with a .309 career mark, inflated by his .332 in 2011, and .379 in 2012, he's probably due to regress offensively, at least a little bit.  Before 2011, his career-high babip was .309, not his career average.

This isn't to say that Melky Cabrera isn't a good baseball player, because that would be silly, but expecting anything even close to his 2012 totals is probably way, way too optimistic.  Bill James' forecast has Cabrera hitting .295/.348/.432, good for a .338 wOBA.  I'm not sure whether or not that's adjusted to the Skydome or not (I don't think it is), but that's a little over league-average for a LF.  He can obviously beat those projections and be worth 4+ WAR again, I just wouldn't exactly count on it based on his career batted ball profile and replacement level for corner outfielders.

Melky is due a regression, but even then, 2 year and $16MM for someone who has put up 8+ WAR in the last two years is pretty awesome.  $16MM in value, these days, is just over 3 WAR (in a single season, that is).  AA might get his money's worth this season alone, and have next year be gravy.

The idea behind this post is to try and temper our expectations, and not to use his prior PED-use as a crutch.  He's probably a true-talent ~3 WAR player in LF, and his .346/.390 /.516 line in 2012 wasn't ever really sustainable whatsoever.  He will regress from that, and it has nothing to do with juicing.

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