Filed under: Stats & Analysis | Tags: Brian Giles, Cedric Hunter, Geoff Jenkins, Jason Lane, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Cameron, San Diego Padres
Well, with Mike Cameron a free agent and Cedric Hunter still a few years away, center field might be the biggest hole the Pads need to fill before the start of next season. As it stands now, assuming no moves between now and opening day, it will be Brian Giles or Jason Lane in center on March 31. It’s very likely the Pads will look outside for help, so let’s run down the candidates for the position in ’08. Today I’ll look at the in-house candidates; over the next few days, I’ll also comment on the free agent and trade possibilities. Finally, I’ll make my recommendation for who the Pads should use in center in 2008.
The 2006 Gold Glove winner took a step back in 2007, his average dropping from .268 to .242 while posting his second highest strikeout total of his career. His on base percentage dropped 30 points from 2006, while his slugging percentage dropped 50. He still managed to post an OPS+ over the league average, although his 2007 number was down 18 points from 2006 (121 to 103). Though his defense is still well regarded, he struggled through the first few months of the season, losing multiple balls in the dusk at home. All this certainly hurt his value on the free agent market; now that his 25-game amphetamine suspension will cut out a part of his 2008 season, his value has dropped even further. He could still be had cheap; in spite of everything, he was also one of the Pads’ more valuable players overall last year, garnering 22 win shares (3rd on the club) and a 5.1 WARP1. However, given the stigma associated with his suspension, in addition to his lackluster 2007 season, signs point to Cameron having a new home for the 2008 season.
I know, Giles is the incumbent in right, but the possibility still remains that the Friars could sign a quality right fielder, i.e. Kosuke Fukudome or Geoff Jenkins, and move Gilly to center. Giles has played center in the past, posting 301 games in central over his career. However, only 18 of those games have come with the Pads, and only 1 in the last 2 years. Even so, he still shows good range in the outfield, as well as a decent arm. Giles’ offensive profile certainly fits better in center than it does in right, given his high OBP and loss of power in recent years. By all accounts Giles is not the player he once was; still, he managed to post a respectable OPS+ of 109 as well as a decent 3.2 WARP1. If the Pads can bring in a right fielder who can do better than Cameron’s 2007 line, it might be worth it to consider Giles in center, since he still presents a viable defensive option as well as lots of aptitude with the stick.
Don’t forget about Jason Lane, either. Picked up during the last week of the season after the catastrophic injuries to Cameron and Milton Bradley, Lane only posted 2 at bats with the Friars, going hitless. With Houston, he was a disaster, hitting just .178 over 169 at-bats. Hold on a second there, professor. As noted by many scribes, KT likes to use a statistic called BABIP (batting average on balls in play) to measure how lucky or unlucky a player was in a given season; it can help indicate how far off of a player’s natural talent level a given statistical line is. Looking at Lane’s 2006 and 2007, he hit .201 and .178, respectively. However, he had a BABIP of .217 in 2006 and .168 in 2007. According to Fan Interference, league average is about .290. This indicates that Lane has been terrificly unlucky over the past 2 years. This does not mean that we can automatically expect Lane to perform to his potential in 2008; however, I definitely would not sleep on him having a big year given the chance to play everyday. Defensively, I don’t know a lot about Lane; he’s posted a 106 Rate2 in center over his career (100 is average). TangoTiger’s Fan Scouting Report puts Lane at a 56, which is about average. This is definitely a KT kind of move: buy low on a player who may have been unlucky, put him in San Diego with a supportive team behind him, and let him go to work. Lane is definitely a player I will have my eye on next year as a potential bounce-back guy.
OK, enough for today. Tomorrow: the free agent guys. Saturday: the trade candidates. Sunday: my recommendation.