Friday, April 02, 2004

Willie Could be Bloomin' 

With Scott Spiezio continuing to suffer from back spasms, he is likely to miss some early games or even go on the DL. While Spiezio is out, it appears that Willie Bloomquist will get the starting nod at 3B. Bloomie's "spunkiness" and defensive flexibility makes him a favorite of manager Bob Melvin. However, his lack of defensive prowess and hitting ability have made him a frequent punching bag of the M's bloggers, including myself.

Bloomquist has never hit consistently, and was bothered by injuries in 2003. Still, examination of some key statistics, do show signs of growth in Bloomquist's skill set, and that should lead to, you guessed it, optimism. Albeit guarded.

BaseballHQ is my favorite source of statistical analysis (for subscribers only, though their Baseball Forecaster book is available in bookstores). They focus on a few key stats to show the hitting ability of a player, and emphasize those that have predictive value for the future. Some of the stats in their toolkit include:

  • Walk Rate (bb%) - walks per plate appearance: BB/(BB+AB). The most patient hitters have values of 10% or better, and the least patient are under 5%.
  • Contact Rate (ct%) is the percentage of balls put into play measured as (AB-K)/AB. Best contact hitters are over 90% and the hackers are at 75%.
  • Batting Eye (EYE) simply measures strike zone judgement and is calculated as BB/K. Eyes of 1.00 or better are very likely to exceed .300 and an eye less than 0.50 are likely to be around .260.
  • Speed Index (SX) is a complex formula that measures a players speed on the basepaths where 100 is league average speed, and 200 is Rickey Henderson in his prime.
  • Runs Created per Game (RC/G) is based on Bill James "Runs Created" formula (H + BB - CS) * ( Total bases + (.52 * SB) + (.26 * BB)) / (AB + BB). Suffice to say, players over 7.50 are very good, and players under 3.50 are not.
Here are the stats of Bloomquist for the past three years (with AAA stats converted to MLB equivalents).

Year    AB   Avg   OBP  bb%   ct%    Eye    SX   RC/G

===== === === === === === ==== === ====
2001 491 .220 .259 5% 89% 0.47 113 2.26
2002 337 .243 .298 7% 88% 0.67 114 3.17
2003 196 .250 .316 9% 80% 0.49 118 3.50
Note the upward trends in OBP, walk rate, and speed. Essentially, Willie has gone from being a terrible hitter to being a replacement level hitter, while providing above average speed and positional flexibility.

With a firm grip on the Mark McLemore(TM) utilityman role, expect to see Willie playing every position on the field except catcher. In this role, Willie's main job is to play solid defense, and to get on base for the big bats to bring in. If he continues to build on his skillset (and this is likely since Willie is just 26), Willie could be the secret sauce on the Mariners hoagie of success.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?