Are Jayson Werth and Bobby Abreu Overrated?

January is a super-boring month for baseball fans as there’s not much going on. All the big names have found homes and all the trade rumors have died down. There is no excitement — that’s why Hall of Fame debates are so popular and so spirited: people are bored!

Even writers get bored and struggle to come up with fresh material, so they stretch and write cliche articles such as this by Tony Lee of NESN.com:

Jayson Werth, A.J. Burnett Among Baseball’s Most Overrated, Overpaid Players

Along with Werth, Lee also claims Abreu is among the most overrated. As he hacks at a couple former Phillies, I’m bored enough to meet his claims with a response. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below, whether you disagree with me or would like to tack on additional points.

Abreu left Philadelphia during the 2006 season. The Phillies have made the playoffs each year from 2007-2010.

This is by far the most-cited piece of “evidence” that Abreu isn’t “a winning player”. The problem is that it makes the mistake of implying causation with correlation. Wikipedia has a couple of humorous examples of absurd correlation/causation fallacies:

With a decrease in the number of pirates, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period.
Therefore, global warming is caused by a lack of pirates.

[…]

Since the 1950s, both the atmospheric CO2 level and crime levels have increased sharply.
Hence, atmospheric CO2 causes crime.

There are far too many variables that separate the Abreu-era Phillies from the post-Abreu Phillies, such as randomness, division strength, timing, injuries, and the fact that the ’07 team can be objectively judged as a better team than in ’06. Furthermore, the ’07 Phillies didn’t exactly sizzle in the post-season as they were swept out of the National League Division Series by the Colorado Rockies. That, after winning the division by the skin of their teeth on the last day of the regular season.

Had Abreu been on that team, rather than finishing his Phillies career on a team that missed the Wild Card by three games, would he have shed his “not a losing player” reputation?

Baseball is well-known for being a sport based upon individual match-ups, but post-season berths are won and lost by entire teams, not by individual players.

At this point in his career, Abreu is likely underrated. Plenty of people think he’s about to hit rock bottom, but a soon-to-be 37-year-old with above-average on-base skills and moderate power is actually quite valuable. Last year, Abreu was a 2.2 fWAR player, which was worth about $9 million — exactly what he earned and what he will earn in 2011. With just a slight mean-regression in BABIP, Abreu should be worth at least $9 million in the upcoming season.

He is not the sole reason for any of this, but Abreu seems to lack that certain something that can make an impact in the middle of a lineup, even given his steady production over the years.

Throughout his Phillies career, Abreu was an offensive force; an on-base machine with considerable power. Abreu was 32 years old when he was traded to the Yankees. Unsurprisingly, his production declined rather than improved. From 1998-2006, Abreu’s lowest on-base percentage was .393 in ’01. His OBP has since ranged from .352 last year to .390 in ’09. If teams have been relying on an aging, declining Abreu for incredible offense in the middle of their lineup, they were sorely mistaken — and that is their fault, not Abreu’s, just as it will be the Washington Nationals’ fault if and when Jayson Werth declines over the course of his seven-year contract.

He has also frustrated fans in each city with his less-than-daring approach to the outfield wall.

Despite his Gold Glove from his ’05 season, Abreu has never been impressive defensively. As with Manny Ramirez, Abreu was productive enough offensively that you accepted that flaw. It would have been nice if he was better with the glove, but his defense was only a point of contention when fans became frustrated with the Phillies’ post-season near-misses in the mid-2000’s. Fans were not outraged at Abreu’s defense with the 65-97 Phillies in 2000.

Werth’s time in the City of Brotherly Love resulted in some nice results and a legion of beard-sporting followers, but it was not the type of stint that deserved seven years and $126 million, the contract he received from Washington.

The contract awarded Werth recently is absolutely excessive. It was a calculated risk taken by the Nationals’ front office, one that will likely not pay off in the end. There are certainly several legitimate arguments to be made against the Werth deal.

Werth has never hit .300, has never driven in 100 runs and has shrunk in high-pressure situations throughout his career, at least those in the regular season

This is not one of them.

Werth never hit .300, but did you know that he hit .298 in ’07 and .296 last year? If Werth had one more hit and one less out in ’07, he is a .302 hitter; if he had two more hits and two less outs last year, he’s a .300 hitter. Seems like a couple hundredths of points in batting average fall well within the range of expected variance.

Additionally, Werth drove in 99 runs in ’09. Obsessing with nice round numbers like .300 and 100 — ignoring the fact that they’re relating to batting average and RBI, the Windows 95 and 98 of baseball metrics, respectively** — ignores the larger point.

** Nerd slam!

Finally, Lee gets caught up in the false belief that Werth is not a “clutch” player. Werth was notoriously awful with two outs and runners in scoring position last year, and he was — he had just a .680 OPS in those situations. But did you know that Werth had a .985 OPS in those situations in ’09?

Logically, one who believes Werth was not clutch last year must believe that Werth was clutch in ’09. So, what happened? Did Werth forget how to be clutch last year? Or… are clutch statistics based on a small sample size and thus subject to a ton of variance? I think the answer is quite obvious here.

In one of Lee’s previous articles, he argues that Carlos Ruiz is among baseball’s most underrated. His argument isn’t really worth fisking other than noting that he uses last year’s batting average and slugging percentage as evidence that Ruiz is improving, but misses that they are based heavily on BABIP luck and are likely to regress in 2011.

Generally speaking, articles like these aren’t even worth mentioning since everybody does them, but I’m bored and needed something to write about. I have no personal issues with Tony Lee or his writing; he is simply an unfortunate bystander in my boredom storm. Aside from commentary on this and Lee’s articles, consider this an open thread for anything Phillies-related. I eagerly await FanSince09‘s appearance. (Should of kept Matt Smith!)

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47 comments

  1. Philistine

    January 11, 2011 11:37 AM

    You know what might be fun for ya? A post on Francisco’s prospects this upcoming season. I’m optomistic that w/playing time he can be pretty productive. Not on Abreu’s or Werth’s level, but solid

  2. Nathan

    January 11, 2011 11:45 AM

    As a fan from Philadelphia I must say that you are picking and choosing the criteria to argue for Bobby Abreu. You are correct to say that he may now be a tad underpaid for what he brings (when you consider how low expectations are for a 37 year old outfielder). But, having suffered through the Abreu-led phils through the early part of the decade, I watched him stuff the stat-sheets when the game was long-decided and come up small in every big moment. I’m at work so I don’t have time to cite specific examples, but reading this trash infuriated me into breaking my only rule: NEVER respond to national articles about a local personality.

  3. sean

    January 11, 2011 11:47 AM

    In the “breakout” article he wrote he listed chris johnson as a breakout possiblity. He really doesn’t understand babip if he’s saying chris johnson could continue to hit like he does. He even refutes himself saying that his k/BB ratio would make it hard to mantain the average yet goes along with his thought anyway. .387 babip is called “lucky” not a skill tony lee. ZIPs projection is much more realistic .269/.303/.429

    Got to hate when people love to use their round numbers as arguments against people such as werth

  4. Kellie

    January 11, 2011 11:49 AM

    Just out of curiosity, from your statistical standpoint, can you site an example of a player who isn’t clutch? To be more clear, what criteria would you use to say that a player comes up small in key situations? And then using that criteria, can you name a player that fulfills the criteria? If not, then your argument seems to be that mental makeup isn’t a factor at all in evaluating player production–and I just don’t buy that.

  5. Bill Baer

    January 11, 2011 11:50 AM

    Nathan,

    Here are Abreu’s splits by leverage over his career:

    – High leverage: .941 OPS
    – Medium leverage: .900
    – Low leverage: .856

    Leverage refers to the importance of each situation. High leverage situations are the most important in which “clutch” players would perform. Abreu grades out rather well, I’d say.

  6. Bill Baer

    January 11, 2011 11:52 AM

    Kellie,

    Clutch has been studied rather extensively over the years. Most have concluded that players don’t have a meaningful ability to produce better in more important situations. One study did conclude that players do have such an ability, but that it is washed out by statistical variance.

    I take an agnostic-atheist stance when it comes to clutch. I don’t believe we have enough information to know for sure, but since there is no evidence in favor of its existence, there is no reason for me to believe in clutch.

  7. sean

    January 11, 2011 11:58 AM

    nathan it’s not a “national article”. it’s NESN which stands for New England Sports Network. And for your specfic examples part, for every “he failed here” example you bring up you could find a “he succeeded here” example to counter it. you just doing some selection bias, and finding evidence for a conclusion you came to before looking at all the evidence

  8. Kellie

    January 11, 2011 12:12 PM

    Bill,

    That’s what I thought and I must admit, as a former division 1 college athlete, I am dismayed to know that hard core statisticians like yourself don’t give more credence to the mental aspect of sports. I find it hard to believe that mental makeup isn’t a factor in athletic performance. From my experience, it seems that certain athletes are able to dial it up a notch when a lot is on the line, while others let anxiety and stress change their typical performance. I saw this first hand at the division 1 collegiate level, and it seems to make sense with all I have read about psychology, stress, and the mind’s ability to affect the body. I bet there could be a statistic to measure this…but I’m not enough of a stats guru to figure it out.

    For example, what are Bobby Abreu’s numbers with two outs, RISP, 5th inning or later, in a game that is tied or a one-run differential? If over the course of his career, those numbers are significantly less than his overall numbers, couldn’t an argument be made that he isn’t clutch? I realize that one year of these sorts of stats is too small of a sample size to make an argument, but over the course of his career, there should be enough AB’s in those sorts of situations to make a real comparison.

  9. Kellie

    January 11, 2011 12:14 PM

    Oh, and I would like to add that “not-clutch” is more what I am referring to than “clutch.” An athlete who is great all the time is probably not going to change much in a key situation…but anxiety and stress are VERY likely to take their toll on athletes who are otherwise great. So I think it’s a lot more likely to be a negative than a positive, if that makes sense.

  10. Bill Baer

    January 11, 2011 12:22 PM

    Kellie,

    I don’t deny that intangible factors like those exist, but I am highly skeptical that they influence Major League Baseball players to the degree that it makes a noticeable impact in their production.

    My guess is that players who are affected greatly by game-state or other “environmental” factors would be weeded out by the time they get to the Majors. Would a player who chickens out in the ninth inning make it through several years of college baseball, the draft, and several more years of Minor League ball, only to flail helplessly in the Majors?

    That’s why I’m agnostic-atheist towards intangibles. I don’t know and neither do you or anyone else. And no one’s been able to present any substantial case — the downfall of intangibles, by definition.

  11. the other Bill

    January 11, 2011 12:27 PM

    Bill’s last point there hits it on the head. I think pressure and clutch gets decreasingly real as you go up the ranks. MLB players are already all in the top 0.01% or something in the world at what they do. They’ve been facing intense pressure and scrutiny all their lives, and if they couldn’t perform under pressure, they wouldn’t be where they were, or wouldn’t stay there long at all. An at-bat in a game you’re leading 15 to 0 in the fourth inning is high-pressure if you’ve got 200,000 or so people watching you do it.

  12. sean

    January 11, 2011 12:28 PM

    for Bobby Abreu i guess the “negative” stats you could pull out are in the 9th inning he’s .255/.469/.458 which would fit into the “he always takes a walk instead of hitting the damn ball” notion that people use. I guess that goes into the “late and close” clutch stat(whatever that means glossery doesn’t define it) in which he is .280/.410/.441. only prolbem is his tie game stats and 1 run game stats are very solid www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=abreubo01&year=Career&t=b

  13. Brian

    January 11, 2011 12:41 PM

    Sean,

    I think you mixed up those 9th innings stats. Abreu’s slash line in the 9th is actually .255/.387/.424, while his extra inning line is .290/.469/.458

  14. Kellie

    January 11, 2011 12:55 PM

    Sorry to keep the debate going, but there are plenty of MLB players who make it through college, the draft, and into a professional uniform who are very talented but mentally/emotionally challenged (problems in the clubhouse, severe off the field problems that cause problems in the clubhouse, selfish, poor teammates, etc.). If an athlete is talented enough, we often think they will overcome their emotional/mental issues and perform well. Sometimes this is the case, and other times they cause more trouble with chemistry than they are worth. I think a similar mental aspect exists when facing pressure at the plate. Athletes can become accustomed to performing in front of large crowds, but when the atmosphere changes (now it’s the playoffs or the 9th inning etc., and the pressure is much greater than usual), they can get themselves psyched out. If an athlete is talented enough, they can make it to the major league level (emotionally challenged or not). And usually they are stable individuals who have no difference in performance with stress/etc. But just as there are players with a bad attitude and emotional trouble in the clubhouse, their are talented players who react poorly to increased stress.

  15. Bill Baer

    January 11, 2011 01:03 PM

    Kellie,

    Don’t apologize for debating — one of the things I aim for with the blog is an open discussion regardless of the subject or the sides taken.

    Like I said, I don’t disagree with you that these players exist (albeit in very small numbers) but I’ve yet to see evidence that the psychology has any noticeable or meaningful persistent effect on their production.

    We diverge, it seems, on the available evidence. You are willing to accept that the intangibles do have a meaningful effect while I’m holding out for more evidence. You’re not necessarily wrong and I’m not necessarily right; neither of us has any way of definitively proving our side.

    Additionally, I can’t fault you for lending credence to your experience as an athlete. However, human beings are very flawed and biased, so their experiences may not align perfectly with what actually happened. (A big reason why eyewitness testimony must be heavily-corroborated in a court of law.)

  16. Scott G

    January 11, 2011 01:05 PM

    Kellie,

    I agree with Bill on the whole “weeded-out” prior to MLB level argument.

    However, if you wanted to really push the issue that pressure situations do cause stress and decrease performance, then doesn’t it stand to reason it would affect both players in question. For instance if the Phillies are down by 1 in the 9th, and Ryan Howard is up to bat against Brian Wilson, wouldn’t Wilson be under stress too?

  17. sean

    January 11, 2011 01:25 PM

    ah you’re right brian, i did mix that up. so he’s even WORSE!!! How dare he only get on base at a .387 clip!! just took a look at ryan howard’s splits and looks like he gets a case of the abreu’s when it’s 2 outs RISP .266/.438/.539. hit the ball sonnnnn.

    Scott G is 100% correct baseball is a zero sum game, the pressure is equal for both the pitcher and the hitter in an situation

  18. Scott G

    January 11, 2011 01:33 PM

    Am I sensing sarcasm? I never actually said it was evenly distributed (equal pressure). If anything I might say the pitcher was under more pressure in every situation because players get out more than they get (in!) on.

  19. sean

    January 11, 2011 02:57 PM

    no sarcasm. it’s equal pressure for both sides is what i’m trying to say. it’s not any more pressure on one side compared to the other. a “clutch” moment is high pressure/leverage for both sides, not more pressure on the pitcher then the batter or vice versa

  20. Scott G

    January 11, 2011 03:40 PM

    Sorry. I’ve never been told seriously that I was “100% correct” before haha.

  21. Heather

    January 11, 2011 03:41 PM

    ‘a “clutch” moment is high pressure/leverage for both sides,’

    Factually, yes. However, what really matters is a player’s perception. If the pitcher is a long time veteran who is able to go to his “zen” place, he’s probably not feeling the pressure as much. If the batter is a guy who’s been in a slump, feels his manager is about to bench him, is coming up on a contract year, and has all these thoughts crowding his head, his perceived pressure is much higher. He might start to overthink things, and his performance will decline.

    Studies have shown that when world class athletes start to think about the task at hand, and how to perform it, they perform measureably worse. This is where stress can play a role.

  22. Ray

    January 11, 2011 03:56 PM

    I’ll try to take Kellie’s side with some examples of psychological effects on ball players:

    1. Steve Sax was an all-star 2b with the Dodgers who mysteriously lost his ability to make accurate throws to 1b at one point during his career.

    2. Joe Cowley pitched for the White Sox and the Phils. With the Sox, he once threw a no-hitter. With the Phils, he lost his ability to throw strikes. He would look great in the bull pen, but would falter the moment he was put into the game.

    3. Mark Wohlers was a former closer for the Braves who had the same problem Cowley had.

    4. The Mets once had a catcher (Hundley – I think?) that lost his ability to throw the ball back to the pitcher. He would air-mail it to 2b.

    All four were diagnosed with a condition called Social Phobia. The system did not weed these guys out. They made it to the majors, were successful and then lost the ability to perform. In some cases, they were able to overcome their problems. These are extreme examples, but it stands to reason that more subtle ones could exist (losing the ability to hit in “clutch” situations for example).

  23. the other Bill

    January 11, 2011 04:21 PM

    Ray, I’d argue that the fact that those examples stand out in your mind (others: Knoblauch, Ankiel) make the idea that players *routinely* thrive or collapse in higher-pressure situations seem really unlikely.

  24. Jesse

    January 11, 2011 04:51 PM

    I just want to gripe about that 2009 season of Werth’s. In the last game of the season I was watching the game at a bar either after work or on lunch. The Phils had already won the division and I believe we were playing the Marlins who were out of contention. Every regular was out of the line-up, except Werth. He was sitting at 98 runs and 99 RBI, and I was happy to see that he was in the game for those obvious reasons. Then something like the 7th or 8th inning with a man on 2nd or so, they effin’ intentionally walked him! In a meaningless game. For both teams. Trying to get some round-number milestones for the first time in his career by simply playing baseball is perfectly commenedable and not something from the Barry Bonds or Ricky Davis school of sports ethics. It boiled my blood, I’ll tell you what…

  25. Santos

    January 11, 2011 06:28 PM

    Bill,

    Jesse said 2009 not 2010 which would have definitely not been a meaningless game for the Braves. It was probably Oct 4 against the Marlins. Werth was intentionally walked in the 10th by Dan Meyer of the Marlins. It was the last game of the season and Werth was sitting on 99 RBIs. But like you said, its not like 100 would have magically made him valuable.

  26. Scott G

    January 11, 2011 07:13 PM

    I’d like to argue this, but I want to make sure I’m accurate.

    I think there is a big difference between the problems these people had and the problem people claim Jayson Werth has.

    Could Knoblauch and these guys ever make throws once these problems started? Was it honestly like he couldn’t throw in the 8th inning of Friday night games? I feel like it was more likely just a general problem. Same with the pitchers who couldn’t throw strikes. I don’t think it was a pressure situation, just something mental (possibly translated to something physical) where they could just not do it. Jon Leiber couldn’t throw to first base, but had control of the strike zone.

    Werth can hit all game long, and then he forgets? One game he hits a home run in the bottom of the 9th, then the next game he can’t hit in the 9th?

    In the last round of the playoffs in each of the last three years (WS, WS, NLCS), he put up triple slash lines of:

    2008 WS: .444/.583/.778
    2009 WS: .263/.417/.579
    2010 WS: .222/.375/.611

    Seeing as how these games are probably much more pressure packed than reg. season games, I’d say it’s safe to say he’s definitely not unclutch.

    I know Werth isn’t the only case mentioned here.

  27. Jesse

    January 11, 2011 08:31 PM

    Thanks Santos,

    It was in the 10th! Ugh, that’s right, that made it even worse.
    www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200910040.shtml

    Mayberry singles, Cairo sac-bunts him to 2nd and they IBB Werth, taking away his potential 100th ribby. Of course, Werth being only on 1st with a runner ahead of him and Hoover hitting (what I remember being an easy double down the line) for the home team something that did not leave the park, it is called a “single” so only Mayberry scores and Werth was also robbed of his 99th run scored, which having those two 99s would at least have been cool. Gripe gripe gripe!

  28. Jesse

    January 11, 2011 08:34 PM

    And Bill, I’ll let the inattention to detail slide because “Nerd Slam!” really made my day.

  29. css228

    January 11, 2011 09:09 PM

    @ Kellie, I would think that the mental impact of the game and pressure would show up more in the statistics for a pitcher or something that occurs far more often than say a playoff plate appearance or a plate appearance. For example, some pitchers may or may not have the mental makeup to be a closer, but might be fine as an 8th inning guy (this might be a bad example though because of how few chances people get at closer if they fail the first few times). Perhaps a better example might be Rick Ankiel, who basically broke down after game 1 of the 2000 NLDS. But I think that mental approach definitely shows up more in pitching. Anyway, I’d be interested to get people’s take on this.

  30. Aaron H

    January 12, 2011 01:30 AM

    @Bill,

    Could you explain your stance on clutch from one of your earlier comments in this post:

    “Here are Abreu’s splits by leverage over his career:

    – High leverage: .941 OPS
    – Medium leverage: .900
    – Low leverage: .856

    Leverage refers to the importance of each situation. High leverage situations are the most important in which “clutch” players would perform. Abreu grades out rather well, I’d say.”

    Later, say to Kellie that being clutch wasn’t shown to be a statistically-significant variable in earlier studies.

    I see a contradiction here-you use Abreu’s OPS in different leverage situations to indicate that common wisdom is mistaken for Abreu’s “clutch” history, yet also say that clutch isn’t really a quantifiable ability. Do you think the high-medium-low leverage breakdown is one of the most useful ways evaluates a player’s clutch? If it was just an illustrative device, I’m sure I could find other ways to slice Abreu’s numbers to show he wasn’t clutch…

  31. Bill Baer

    January 12, 2011 03:29 AM

    @ Jesse,

    My bad. Just another illustration of the fallacy of man! amirite?

    @ Aaron

    Leverage measures the importance of a situation. So if a player is, supposedly, clutch (or unclutch), that would show up in these stats, right? Abreu is believed to be unclutch yet he has better stats in higher-leverage situations.

    To someone who believes in clutch, they have to resolve their belief in Abreu’s unclutchitude and his better numbers in more important situations. To me, I think they’re explained away by statistical variance, but I can’t know for sure.

  32. hk

    January 12, 2011 07:49 AM

    Aaron,

    Further to Bill’s point, clutch is a term that can be used to describe past events, but not one that is predictive. We can sort of quantify that a certain player did or did not perform well in “clutch” situations – although we all have different definitions of clutch situations – but that does not predict that that player will continue to do so in the future. Werth is an interesting case in point. Apparently, Tony Lee and others believe he’s over-rated and un-clutch, based primarily because on his batting average with 2 outs and RISP last year. Making this leap of faith basically ignores factors like small sample size, luck and randomness (see his BABIP in those situations) and the fact that he was clutch in those situations in the past.

  33. texasbart

    January 12, 2011 09:14 AM

    I think that the focus on “clutch” misses the point. The primary challenge in baseball is not high pressure situations. Players who cannot handle this do tend to be weeded out along the way. The challenge is the grind of playing 162 games and being focused for each pitch despite the nagging injuries; off-field issues (even relatively minor ones like being up all night with a sick kid); etc. To be as focused in June as in August. This is why amphetamines were so prevalent as they help to increase focus and it is why other forms of caffeine system (5 hour energy) are so popular now.

    I think that intangibles is a general term that covers the ability to focus and compete despite all of these challenges. Some players do this in a manner that we call leadership that help other players to do the same. Schmidt credits Pete Rose with this kind of leadership and I think that Utely brings this to the Phillies.

    When Abreu left, I recall John Kruk talking about the importance of your best player being this kind of a leader as the rest of the team tends to take on the persona of your best player. He specifically said that Abreu – while a great player – did not bring this kind of leadership and that Utely’s emergence would have a dramatic effect on how the team played.

    This does not make Abreu a bad player. It simply means that you do not want him as your best player / leader. A team needs an Utley or a Rose – not for the playoffs, but to get them through the days that they are too tired or otherwise distracted to focus. In addition, this guy can’t be a bench player. Only the best player really drives what others do. Thus, the potential impact of Doc on the rest of the pitchers.

  34. Tim

    January 12, 2011 11:46 AM

    Wow, this may be the most civil and interesting debate on clutchness that has ever taken place on the internet. No one’s even mentioned A-Rod!

    But seriously, I think when it comes to athletes struggling with their mental approach to the stress of the game, a better case to look at is Greinke. Here was a guy with a ton of talent who had reached the highest levels of the game but was saddled with anxiety issues and other roadblocks to success. How did it play out? Not by pitching well and then wilting in high-leverage situations, but by generally not pitching well. The stress evened out and led to poor performance over the course of his bad seasons, not just in “clutch” situations.

    Most guys like that wash out, as Bill pointed out early on, and to his credit, Greinke was able to find ways to deal with it and excel. But major league baseball is a pressure cooker, even if you play for the KC Royals. You’re either good enough to cut it, or you’re not (though obviously within the ranks of baseball, some cut it better than others).

  35. phannyc

    January 12, 2011 06:40 PM

    This was a great discussion. Really fun.

    I have the feeling sometimes writers aren’t doing homework. Maybe I just had an ‘old fashioned’ education. But maybe as you said Bill it was more a case of Mr. Lee being hung up on ’round numbers’. If the latter was the case, then I feel as though he should just give the readers the numbers along with his interpretation. Let them see & decide. I just feel as though a player within one run and two hundredths of a point should be given the benefit of the doubt. Allow him to begin his tenure in a new city w/o the fans in that city thinking poorly of the guy.

    During his 4 yrs w/the Phillies, I enjoyed Werth & thought he was underrated. Opinion I guess. I also thought he was the perfect fit for the Phillies & vice versa. I’m hard-pressed to remember a player this good who has lacked press respect in the same way Werth has. It seems odd.

    At the root of all of this discussion is the fact that everyone is oddly focused on Werth’s contract as somehow being THE WORST contract of the season. Why should Werth’s contract be considered so much worse than Crawford’s (I think HE’S overrated), or Lee’s (a yr older, a pitcher, numbers weren’t good last season, recent injuries, paid more annually, op for a 6th yr), or Howard’s (don’t get me started)? I’ve read so much about it and still whether or not his contract is worse is up to the team I would guess. I think he’ll age better than a pitcher, better than Howard (& Werth doesn’t have a 10mil buyout @ 37yrs), and I think he’s a better all around player than Crawford.

    But it’s kind of a case of an athlete, their skills, their playing style, & their personality either fitting w/your team at the time they’re signed w/you or not. The two sides only know when they try it. I guess we’ll see with Werth, Crawford, Lee, Howard, and all the others.

  36. hk

    January 12, 2011 07:40 PM

    phannyc, you had me until you said Lee’s numbers weren’t good last year. Are you talking about Cliff Lee, the pitcher with a K/BB of greater than 10, a 2.58 FIP and the highest fWAR of any P in MLB? Or, by last year did you mean 2007?

  37. Frank K

    January 13, 2011 08:15 AM

    God rest his soul, but I will forever be upset with the press conference statements made by Cory Lidle when he and Abreu went to New York. He stated to a room full of writers that he never got the feeling in Philadelphia that his teammates WANTED to win. He said he looked “around the clubhouse and didn’t see that desire to win.”

    The upsetting thing about it is that Abreu was sitting beside him when he said it, and in my mind Abreu was THE prime example of what Lidle was claiming. Quite ironic; also quite ironic that in 2007 the streak started with little change in personnel–other than Lidle and Abreu.

    And as someone who watched Bobby Abreu from the his first to his last at bats as a Phillie, I can honestly say I never saw evidence of his desire to do more than bat four times in a game and happily stand in right field for 8 or nine half-innings. Some at-bats are infinitely more important than other at-bats. That is what makes a great ballplayer, Bobby–you never figured that out. A very likable guy, but NEVER a winner. Just ask the Yankees.

  38. Bill Baer

    January 13, 2011 09:13 AM

    Frank,

    I also watched Abreu from his first to his last at-bats as a Phillie. I never saw what you claim you saw in him. :-\

    Some at-bats are infinitely more important than other at-bats.

    As proven above, Abreu did better in the more important at-bats. He even performed best in the second-half — his career average OPS in August and September are both over .900.

  39. Frank K

    January 13, 2011 02:37 PM

    Bill and Sean…

    He’s a hot-weather player so the second half numbers are not surprising. I just don’t have many memories of big hits, walk-off hits, or stolen bases when needed. He was an on base machine but so was Pat Burrell and we know how that turned out. Carlos Ruiz last year helped win more games than Abreu did in several seasons here. Anywho, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Respectfully submitted.

  40. Paul Boye

    January 13, 2011 03:01 PM

    You not having memories of said hits doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. There’s a lot we can forget if it doesn’t fall under the broad-brush label of a given player.

  41. Danny

    January 13, 2011 03:03 PM

    Does “respectfully submitted” mean that you are automatically right? No, it doesn’t.

    Nobody has great memories of teams that won 75-80 games a year. Nobody has great memories of teams that didn’t make the playoffs for a decade and a half.

    When you’re Bobby Abreu and you’re surrounded by guys like Rico Brogna, Marlon Anderson, Desi Relaford, Doug Glanville et al, your great stats aren’t going to impress many people.

    If you watched every Bobby Abreu at-bat with the Phillies, you must be a really unproductive person. Dude was one of the best players in all of baseball, but it’s just a shame that you can’t win a World Series with one great player.

    So Taguchi has two World Series rings, and Bobby Abreu has none. Who would you rather have in right field for the Phillies in 2011?

  42. Barry Jive

    January 13, 2011 03:05 PM

    “He was an on base machine but so was Pat Burrell and we know how that turned out.”

    Leading a parade down Broad Street?

  43. Scott G

    January 13, 2011 04:02 PM

    Seriously Barry, I don’t get why people bash Burrell. Burrell’s career wOBA is .361. Ibanez’s is .351 just for a reference point. Why do so many people hate “The Bat”?

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