Wilson Valdez: In play, outs

A common sighting during games in which Wilson Valdez plays:

That was Valdez’s 16th ground ball double play this season in 277 at-bats, a rate of about six percent. From May 6-10, Valdez grounded into a double play in five straight games. To his credit, though, he hadn’t grounded into one in his last 75 plate appearances. From May 6 to July 22, Valdez’s GIDP rate was at eight percent.

Just how high is that rate? Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I searched every player-season since 1996 where a player accrued at least 275 PA and grounded into at least 16 double plays, then figured the rate for each of them. 33 players finished with a GIDP rate at 4.5 percent or higher and only six at 5.5 percent. Valdez’s 5.8 percent is the fourth-highest rate in this span of time.

Player GIDP PA GIDP/PA Year Team
Ivan Rodriguez 21 330 6.4% 2010 WSN
Brad Ausmus 30 496 6.0% 2002 HOU
Ron Coomer 23 386 6.0% 2001 CHC
Wilson Valdez 16 277 5.8% 2010 PHI
Kevin Frandsen 17 296 5.7% 2007 SFG
Paul Konerko 28 495 5.7% 2003 CHW

Overall, though, Valdez has been as advertised. He has a career .260 wOBA and sat at .275 for the season entering today’s series finale against the Washington Nationals. Defensively, UZR/150 graded him as significantly above-average at second base, third base, and shortstop. Given injuries to Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Placido Polanco, Valdez has had to fill in at all three positions. In extremely small samples — 292 innings at second, 24 at third, and 303 at shortstop — his defense has lived up to expectations with respective UZR/150 marks of 2.5, 9.2, and 2.9.

He’s no Omar Infante but he’s been worth the Minor League contract to which the Phillies signed him during the off-season. His ubiquitous replacement-level production may earn him a one-year Major League contract for 2011.

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14 comments

  1. Phylan

    August 22, 2010 03:46 PM

    Why even bother listing his UZR figures in that small a sample?

  2. DrPete

    August 22, 2010 03:47 PM

    His GiDP rate is pretty impressive.
    ~24% of the time he CAN GiDP, he does!
    It was 30% earlier in the season, so he has improved…

  3. ThinMountainAir

    August 22, 2010 05:29 PM

    My dad grew up in Baltimore during the Earl Weaver era. He tells me that the Orioles once had a player with GIDP tendencies like Valdez, and Earl’s solution was to yell at the guy: “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, STOP GROUNDING INTO DOUBLE PLAYS! JUST STRIKE OUT!”

    Can’t really see Charlie doing that.

  4. Bill Baer's Wife

    August 22, 2010 06:50 PM

    It’s a common sight during the games to read that in the play by play by the box score, because you look at the box score, and neglect to watch the games, Bill.

  5. David

    August 22, 2010 07:06 PM

    Wait…so you’re throwing a guy a bone…by writing about how he grounds into double plays?

    /chuckles

  6. Richard

    August 22, 2010 07:37 PM

    Phillies have fared pretty well with Valdez (though those who are under the impression that he’s a better defender than is Utley need to be schooled; since reading that article you posted about Utley’s superior positioning, I’ve noticed more and more the difference–like today, there was one ball pulled through the right side for a single; Valdez dove and missed the grounder, not really coming close; I think Utley catches that ball easily…)

    Back to Valdez: his offense has overall been as one might expect (replacement level), but the Phillies have actually benefited from the luck of the draw this year, in that he’s hitting very well with RISP and late in games. Doesn’t hurt.

  7. Michael Jack

    August 22, 2010 07:58 PM

    I hope that major league contract isn’t offered by the Phils’ front office…

  8. ThinMountainAir

    August 22, 2010 08:22 PM

    @ Bill Baer’s Wife:

    Excuse me, what are you talking about?

  9. Dan

    August 22, 2010 10:24 PM

    He can ground into all the double plays he wants as long as he continues to be so freaking clutch. He really is good with RISP. Also, he’s here for his glove, not his bat. He’s been impressive with his glove.

    Kinda weird that a guy that has good speed hits into so many DPs, though.

  10. zach

    August 23, 2010 12:29 AM

    yeah thats funny because my dad and i call him “6-4-3″

  11. Jon

    August 23, 2010 08:19 AM

    Last two years, it’s always been Carlos Ruiz that I felt like was a GIDP waiting to happen (I know, confirmation bias and all that)… but Valdez this year seemed to blow him away, I’m glad to see the stats actually back up that perception. That and of course Chooch has been a lot better hitter this year.

  12. Ted

    August 28, 2010 09:28 PM

    Valdez has a faster and more accurate release to first than Utley. The speculation that Utley would reach a ball that Valdez would miss is just that – speculation. Utley hits for more power and runs much better. The Phillies have played better with Valdez in the lineup than they have with Utley. Utley IS the better all around player but despite the propensity to hit into a DP, Valdez is a more than adequate backup.

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