Adam Kennedy Gets a Major League Roster Spot

Ned Colletti has reportedly given Adam Kennedy a major league contract. $800,000 is not a big deal to a major league team — it’s not even going to be 1% of the final player budget for the Dodgers. But why not save almost a half-million dollars?

Kennedy put the tenth-worst wOBA among players with at least 350 plate appearances last year. Only Adam Dunnn and Casey McGehee were “higher” on the list and didn’t play center field, shortstop, or catcher.

How did he manage the feat? By being Adam Kennedy, but more. All of his rates were bad, but within a sigh of his career rates. He had a below-average ISO (.121) but it was actually better than his career number (.112). He didn’t walk much (5.4%), but he never has (6.5% career). He struck out a little more than usual (16.4%), but not a ton more (13.4% career). His BABIP wasn’t great (.266) but even with his expected BABIP (.312), he wouldn’t have pushed his batting average over .260, or his on-base percentage much past .300. Even with neutral batted ball luck in a nicer park, he would be a minus with the bat. Only four times in his career has he even been better than league average.

It wasn’t some sort of one-season thing in other words. He has the twelfth-worst wOBA with anyone over 750 PAs since 2010 started. And, once again, the list is peppered with shortstops, centerfielders… and Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins.

And Kennedy doesn’t add value with glove like a centerfielder or a shortstop — even a bad one. A second baseman by trade, Kennedy could play scratch defense at the position, most likely. But the metrics have never liked his work at third base, and even if it was a move based on need, it can’t be good news that the Mariners moved him to first base for 218 innings in 2011.

But we return to the fact that it’s only $800K we’re talking about. Why not?

Well, the why not comes the scarcity of roster positions, upside, and the almost half-mill they could save by going with an in-house option.

Let’s take the last first. The Dodgers already have too many utility infielders. Maybe Juan Uribe will have to play third base. Mark Ellis is in the fold for second base. That still leaves Russ Mitchell, Justin Sellers, and Ivan De Jesus as possible utility infielders and backups around the infield.

Each of those players will cost the major league minimum, or $480,000 next year. According to reports, that means the Dodgers have wasted $320K on Kennedy if any of the three could be as good with the bat.

Bill James projections, which sometimes seem to predict an inflated offensive environment, have Kennedy as a .289 wOBA dude in 2012. Sellers (.295 wOBA BJ projection) can beat that and can play shortstop, too. ZiPs has DeJesus as a .267/.321/.356 batter, which beats every single one of Kennedy’s slash-line projections. Mitchell’s .241/.285/.384 ZiPs doesn’t really beat Kennedy’s projection handily, so maybe backup third base is the idea here. But if Sellers and DeJesus are already out in front of Kennedy, they could play third too.

And then there’s the upside beyond next year’s projections. All three of these three players are under 27. Mitchell has ISO’ed over .220 for two straight years at Triple-A, even if it was a favorable offensive environment. DeJesus doesn’t have much power or speed, but he did show a better walk rate in Triple-A last year then Kennedy has ever shown in the majors. Sellers? Good walk rate, but his power is almost certainly just a mirage in the desert. All of these guys have more upside than Kennedy.

Lastly, there’s roster scarcity. By giving Kennedy a roster spot, the team has denied one of these three young players a shot at showing what he has at the major league level. None of the three is going to prove much back in Albuquerque.

The team won’t learn much from Kennedy’s production next year. The upside of the player in that spot is muted. And the roster spot is now more expensive. That’s a triple threat to the future of the team, all rolled up into one roster spot.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

18 Responses to “Adam Kennedy Gets a Major League Roster Spot”

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  1. Soam says:

    Maybe he’s good friends with Matt Kemp. For 800k, it’s worth it to see Kemp smile.

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  2. Eminor3rd says:

    Until you can quantify grit, sabermetrics will never be a legitimate endeavor. I blame it on Billy Beane, for writing that horrible book, Moneyball.

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    • kick me in the GO NATS says:

      You could be an Emajor if you better understood math. If grit has any consistent tangible affect on a players stats, then it is apart of saber metric formulas implicitly.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        I thought the second sentence of my comment was an obvious indicator of my sarcasm. I guess I’m just not funny.

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      • steex says:

        You could be a Drummajor if you understood math AND were funny.

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      • david says:

        You’re the funniest diatonic triad I’ve ever seen… he’s just not clever enough to realize it!

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      • Basil Ganglia says:

        kick me in the GO NATS says:
        November 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

        If grit has any consistent tangible affect on a players stats, then it is apart of saber metric formulas implicitly.

        Since grit is “apart of saber metric formulas” I guess your agreeing that it hasn’t been quantified? So what’s the argument? :-)

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      • T says:


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    • Jay says:

      if you didn’t like his writing, then I bet you didn’t enjoy his directing of moneyball either

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  3. Nik says:

    Veteran presence!

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  4. Rob says:

    The Dodgers are adding to their stash of players who could be had for an NRI but instead have to be paid real moeny. Matt Treanor felt lonely.

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  5. Brian says:

    If you haven’t noticed, Ned Coletti has a thing for has-beens.

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  6. cs3 says:


    Glad the Dodgers signed him before Sabean could swoop him up.

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  7. Notrotographs says:

    What, no room in the Diamondbacks’ infield?

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  8. Joey E. says:

    Ned Colletti is a cruel joke gone to far. why is he still employed? he makes me hate being a dodger fan

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  9. Yinka Double Dare says:

    ” Adam Dunnn ”

    The extra “n” is for negativeWAR

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  10. David K says:

    I still remember that lopsided trade: Kennedy and Kent Bottenfield for JIM EDMONDS!!! I remember at the time of the trade asking my uncle why, as an Angel fan, he was excited by this trade. He was happy to get an almost 20-game winner (I forget how many wins he had, and am too lazy to look it up), even though he didn’t miss a lot of bats, and he had a high ERA and put lots of runners on base. I thought he was one of the worst 18 or 19 game winners of all time, and the future proved me right. How the Angels could have made this trade was beyond me. it wasn’t like Kennedy projected to be a stud or anything either.

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  11. KruegerE says:

    Its sad that Kennedy was one of the few bright spots on the Mariners offense. I’m actually going to miss him in Seattle.

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