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  1. “Tony Campana is probably one of the best people alive at producing that non-hitting value.”
    So so very true. In fact, he’s the only guy in the modern era to have a season with a K% > 20%, ISO 0 (min 150 PAs): http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/2/18/4002112/tony-campana-cubs-diamondbacks-grit

    Comment by Matt Hunter — February 18, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

  2. But is he gritty?

    Comment by AJT — February 18, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  3. This actually gave me some faith in the move. Second coming of Juan Pierre anyone?

    Comment by Tristan — February 18, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  4. I’d take Mike Trout.

    Comment by Old School — February 18, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  5. Trout has no neck so he struggles aerodynamically.

    Comment by JS7 — February 18, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  6. Well I screwed that up. Supposed to be K% > 20%, ISO 0.

    Comment by Matt Hunter — February 18, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  7. Ok I don’t know what’s happening anymore. ISO less than point 040. WAR greater than zero. Embarrassing. And if this doesn’t work then I’m done.

    Comment by Matt Hunter — February 18, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

  8. But if the game was underwater he’d dominate.

    Comment by TheHoustonian — February 18, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  9. I’m excited to see my Jays running rampant on the diamond with Davis, Gose, Bonifacio, Reyes, and crazy Lawrie.

    Comment by Matty Brown — February 18, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  10. I don’t see how it’s possible that he’d get anywhere near 1 WAR as a neutral fielder, when each of the last two years he’s been worth about four runs on the bases, a number that’s been boosted by a reasonable number of plate appearances. His batting runs have more than made up for his baserunning runs in those years. If you give him no PAs he has fewer baserunning opportunities and therefore will be worth fewer runs there.

    Comment by Tim — February 18, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

  11. Also, while “base stealing is getting more important” is a theoretically true statement, the difference in base-stealing value between the best and worst team in 2012 was 36 stolen bases – about four runs, via linear weights. It remains essentially meaningless in the context of strategy for winning baseball games.

    Comment by Tim — February 18, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

  12. I feel like this article clearly dictates that Rajai Davis is the best base runner in baseball right now, at the Major League Level.

    Comment by AIS — February 18, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  13. Except it didn’t show all of the elite SB guys.

    Mike Trout was 49/54, and while not as aggressive was more valuable on the bases.

    Comment by JeffMathisCera — February 18, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  14. Once again, Kevin Towers demonstrates his inability to adequately manage a professional baseball team. Campana is nothing more then a chuckle and a pass; meanwhile, bye bye 2 17 year olds…

    Comment by Steve — February 18, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

  15. I chuckle when I hear people compare Campana to Juan Pierre. As a Cubs fan, I’ve heard it before. Campana has the speed to be the same type of player as JP, but he has one major flaw: He cannot find a way to get on base. JP’s bunting, slap infield hitting skills, and ability to take a walk always made him a threat to get on base. Campana has the speed but is drastically missing the hitting skills and patience at the plate to make it happen.

    Campana would need to seriously improve at the plate before ever getting a chance as a full time MLB hitter. Currently, he is a one-tool player. Campana will probably be the all-time pinch runner or a 4th OF at best.

    Comment by Northsider — February 18, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  16. We know that he wouldn’t be on the roster if he wasn’t.

    Comment by chuckb — February 18, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

  17. I had this problem as well. Apparently the fangraphs comment system does not recognize GREATER THAN and LESS THAN symbols properly. Admins should like into this.

    Comment by Jaker — February 18, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  18. Knowing all the moves the d’bags have made this offseason, are you sure Towers likes him for his elite SB ability and not his scrawney scrappy white guy grit?

    Comment by Antonio bananas — February 18, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

  19. Ha, “D’bags”. Priceless! That’s like so…perfect. Because their team is ineptly assembled. I mean, the GM is totally supposed to tell us truthfully and precisely the metrics he uses to evaluate players just like we expect a Wall Street or Silicon Valley CEO to expound on the black box of what they do. I mean, you can totally access proprietary secrets from any of these firms on Yahoo Finance! Get on this Tim Cook! Duh!

    Plus it’s, like a forgone conclusion guys with big platoon splits or ones who only do one thing well are totally overvalued and therefore worthless. I mean, Christ, after this offseason there’s no way they’re winning anything more than 75 employing this strategy. That’s a recipe for disaster trying to fit a team to a ballpark and exploit platoons! Craaaay-zeee.

    Holy shit did I mention how clever changing “backs” to “bags” was? Terrific. And not at all misogynistic either. Clearly you’re a writer… I mean, you’d just have to be to come up with a gem like that. Well done, sir.

    Comment by scrappy doo — February 18, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  20. Two statements that I’m shocked were written by Dave Cameron:

    “…he’s probably still capable of producing close to +1 WAR as a pinch-runner extraordinaire.”

    There is no way I’m buying this. He got 192 plate appearances and 11 pinch running appearances in 89 games last year and accumulated 0.6 WAR. That’s enough playing time to consider him a legit part time player not just some base stealing weapon. I can’t see him getting to within even 50 PAs of his 2012 total as the 5th outfielder and last man on the bench in Arizona. Even if you double his pinch running appearances, I just don’t see how he gets on the field enough with Parra and Eaton both on the roster to accumulate a full win. I mean, again, he only got to the 0.6 WAR mark last year in a more prominent role.

    “there aren’t too many examples of big leaguers this fast that weren’t above average defensive OFs, after all.”

    Roger Cedeno could run like a dear and was one of the defenders I’ve ever seen. Otis Nixon had a five year period where he stole almost 250 bases. In that same five year period he accumulated -47 UZR. Rajai Davis is a poor defender. Johnny Damon was always a poor defender. Vince Coleman was a poor defender. Shannon Stewart was a poor defender…. There examples aplenty.

    Comment by jpg — February 18, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  21. It’s probably interpreting them as html tags when you have a less than followed by a greater than.

    Comment by pcm — February 18, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  22. Dave Cameron, I’m sure you know, but you never have anything nice to say about KT. You should put in your résumé for the next opening for a GM job. I’m sure you could do it. “He can’t hit????” Campana hit .262 points higher than you ever could. Check yourself loser. You’re a nobody that hides behind s computer.

    Comment by Anthony Todd — February 18, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  23. what a moronic comment…obviously you are a tool but seriously only former major league players can do analysis?? are you really that dense? if Dave is a nobody what does that make you? if you dont like it dont read it

    Comment by Dennis — February 18, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

  24. @pcm Yeah that’s definitely what happened. My mistake.

    Comment by Matt Hunter — February 18, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  25. Maybe it’s Tony Campana.

    Comment by LHomonacionale — February 18, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

  26. Cubs fan here. Campana is a liability on defense; doesn’t use his speed well or glove particularly well, and has the rag arm you’d expect. For fans who actually watched the games, the jury is not still out on his defense, and all I can tell you is that defensive metrics still aren’t really worth much or authoritative. His hitting, you don’t need me to tell you about. Slap hitter, can’t get on base, doesn’t walk.

    His base stealing and baserunning are amazing.

    But it just isn’t enough to make him very useful, IMO. He’s a player who on an NL team is really only useful after rosters expand. While he’s taking the spot of a real hitter and/or fielder, or pitcher, he’s a liability.

    This trade is unlikely to matter at all for either team, but just based on potential and potential value, it’s a robbery. We know what Campana is and isn’t. He’s reached his ceiling and it wasn’t very high – arguably not high enough to be in the big leagues. The Cubs were dropping him for nothing, now they get two 17 old lottery tickets with live arms (who can strike people out and apparently have good control). Good trade.

    Comment by Paul — February 18, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

  27. I think Tony’s skillset is vastly underrated. Too many one run games in baseball where he can make a big difference.

    Comment by Givejonadollar — February 18, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  28. Clearly you don’t read much. Dave Cameron has probably been one of the SABR authors least critical of Kevin Towers this offseason. Try not being a homer and not posting stupid comments.

    Comment by DbacksSkins — February 18, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  29. Ask the Yankees if Dave Roberts could affect a game on the base paths.

    Comment by J — February 18, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

  30. When do I get invited back to this Major League party??

    Comment by Darren Ford — February 19, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  31. Is he gritty? This article has convinced me that he’s going to make a 10-year career of just sliding into bases. His uniform will be so covered in grit that Kirk Gibson may soil himself (and THAT would be gritty!).
    I only wish the Braves had come up with this data. They could’ve traded Jordan Schafer and a bag of good old-fashioned grits straight-up for Justin Upton.

    Comment by Hicks — February 19, 2013 @ 1:30 am

  32. Fair point. I guess I should rephrase my comment to “the best of the base stealers mentioned in this article”, since this article was really only about “high volume” base stealers.

    Comment by AIS — February 19, 2013 @ 2:37 am

  33. The guy at the top of his list, Rajai Davis, is also considered by most eyes (and the fangraphs metrics) as a below average defensive OF.

    Comment by AIS — February 19, 2013 @ 2:40 am

  34. Mr. Towers: Get away from your keyboard before we bitch slap you with all of ours……

    Comment by 4233 — February 19, 2013 @ 2:45 am

  35. He’s tiny, white, swings at everything, and runs like hell. Is there another definition of “gritty” that I don’t know about? Maybe this is the definition for a “grinder”, while grittiness involves more running into walls and not being afraid to get a big hit? I get those two confused sometimes.

    Comment by ezb230 — February 19, 2013 @ 3:33 am

  36. I like Tony Campana, primarily because he’s about my height. (I am 1 Altuve.)

    Comment by thirteenthirteen — February 19, 2013 @ 3:38 am

  37. There’s nothing misogynistic about calling someone a douchebag.

    P.S. I am a woman.

    Comment by thirteenthirteen — February 19, 2013 @ 3:40 am

  38. WHEN the game moves underwater**

    Comment by Oh, Beepy — February 19, 2013 @ 7:08 am

  39. Here is a question from a Jays fan to an apparent Jays fan;

    Why did you ask this question on an article about Tony Campana, the DBacks and the Chicago Cubs? Because they mentioned a Toronto player without even referencing his team? Why on Earth did you make this comment? To whom was this comment directed? My head hurts.

    Comment by Oh, Beepy — February 19, 2013 @ 7:10 am

  40. This is the perfect amount of tongue being held against cheek.

    Comment by Oh, Beepy — February 19, 2013 @ 7:12 am

  41. Oh, shut up, Oh, Beepy. His comment was more relevant than yours.

    Comment by Baltar — February 19, 2013 @ 8:32 am

  42. I agree. In 2011 Arizona had one of the highest come-from-behind percentages. However in 2012 they couldn’t win late to save their lives. Towers and Gibson are looking to find the magic again this season. I’m not certain but I believe they won 46 comeback victories in 2011.

    Comment by Dbacks21774 — February 19, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  43. Yeah Dave

    Campana had a higher batting average than you, so you can’t say anything about him.

    Dp the folks that say stuff like this complain about anything? The President? Congress? God? Their boss?

    I mean I haven’t run a country, make laws, ruled a universe, etc but I can still point out a few negatives along with the positive here and there, right?

    At a Cubs game last year I saw the best/worst of Camapana. Fast as heck, no doubt. Saw a triple. Then on a soft liner, he initially broke back on the ball, charged hard on it and then dove to try and catch it and it got by him. Played an out into a triple for the opposition.

    But his base stealing numbers are outstanding.

    The data tables remind me of some of the data/formulas we use to make [1] baserunning aggressiveness and [2] baserunning ability ratings for custom/historical rosters on MLB: The Show.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 19, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  44. Jeff Duncan will listen if Kevin Towers called.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/duncaje01.shtml

    Comment by Levski — February 19, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  45. If you want a less than sign to show up, type < (Warning: Since there’s no preview button this may not work.)

    Comment by matt w — February 19, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  46. So K > 20%, ISO < .040, WAR > 0. Ta da!

    Comment by matt w — February 19, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  47. This is the first paragraph from Fangraphs Q&A with Kevin Towers:

    Kevin Towers is smarter than the so-called experts. That isn’t meant sarcastically. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ GM knows what he’s doing, and has both the background and track record to prove it. Skeptics panning his recent moves don’t have his 16 years of experience as a big-league general manager, nor have they been a minor-league pitching coach or scouting director.

    As for the “D-Bags” comment, the only surprise is that there was a poster/commenter on this thread that hasn’t already heard it 100+ times.

    Every GM article should just say “GM’s are dumb and teams win by luck.” I/We get it. <—- Sarcasm.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 19, 2013 @ 10:26 am

  48. Roger Cedeno could run like a dear and was one of the defenders I’ve ever seen

    Entertaining typo.

    Wanna know one of the outfielders I’ve seen? I’ve seen a lot.

    Lonnie “Skates” Smith was a defender I’ve seen. *grin*

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 19, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  49. Yeah, JP’s contact tool is actually rather elite. His approach just didn’t evolve as he aged and lost some power/speed. He was never willing to trade groundouts for walks.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 19, 2013 @ 11:35 am

  50. Are you feeding the troll purposely or unintentionally?

    Comment by Jason — February 19, 2013 @ 11:59 am

  51. Regardless of how good he might be even in a perceived way, that trade was beyond awful for AZ. 17 year olds are ceiling-less, they could be anything, they could be everything, they could be nothing. My point is they are a lot more valuable than 25 year olds at AA, which is what Tony Campana should have been acquired for.

    Its like all of MLB are trying to give the Cubs a good team. Theo has been butchering teams in trades this offseason.

    Comment by Forrest Gumption — February 19, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  52. Theo has handily won every trade he’s made so far, its almost fishy…

    Comment by Forrest Gumption — February 19, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

  53. Carrying Tony Campana would make sense if you also carried only 10 pitchers, maybe 11. Using the roster spot for an effective platoon or a potent bench bat would probably help far more than Campana ever can by stealing that extra base that you may or may not need.

    Comment by Dan — February 19, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

  54. Haha yeah meant to say one of the WORST defenders I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by jpg — February 19, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  55. We did it with Herb Washington (in the 70’s… for a year…), I don’t see why it wouldn’t work!

    Comment by Oakland A's — February 19, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  56. Do you really complain about God?

    Comment by Todd — February 19, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  57. The 1974 A’s did not carry 12 or 13 pitchers. Also, Herb Washington stole bases at a 64.4% clip that season, so I’m doubting it made much of a difference, as fun as the idea was.

    Tony Campana is a complete and total waste of regular season roster space.

    Comment by Dan — February 19, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

  58. Perhaps if you noticed the relevant graph in the article you would not be so ignorant. The graph listed 3 Jays players as the most prolific base stealers in the game.

    Comment by Matty Brown — February 19, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  59. You have my sympathy.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 19, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  60. I see this as a short term experiment, when that team starts to lose the once a game base stealing thrill gets old.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 19, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

  61. Very thoughtful analysis, thank you Mr. Cameron.

    Comment by SR — February 19, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

  62. It’s average height for a woman, so it’s not that bad. Makes it easy to find pants the right length.

    Comment by thirteenthirteen — February 19, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

  63. All I think that this move shows is that Towers is expecting to be very competitive this season. Small moves, rounding out your bench to cover a lot of situations, this makes a huge difference in the long run…especially in the NL. I think that a lot of AZ fans are disillusioned by the quality of this minor move considering how bad some of the rest look!

    Comment by Richard J — February 20, 2013 @ 5:08 am

  64. Cubs fans might remember a fella by the name of Ced Landrum. Same type of player – didn’t really have a position and couldn’t hit, but put him on the base-paths and he could burn. The Cubbies won several games in 1991 by using him as a pinch-runner late in games.

    Comment by Hunter — February 21, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

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