I don’t think I’m exaggerating, reader, when I say that the study of baseball and its attendant joys is the single most important field of research in our time. It is — as we speak — the most commonly offered and pursued doctoral degree program among our nation’s universities. Not only that, but, despite these tough economic times, those same universities are actively pursuing qualified professors to meet the large and growing demand from their undergraduate communities. The Fidrych Institute — i.e. the think tank most integral to effecting joy-related policy changes — currently receives substantial funding from Republicans, Democrats, the Green Party (who, if my numbers are correct, allocated something like 37% of their annual budget to the Institute), and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who, despite knowing almost nothing about baseball, made a generous contribution directly from the pockets of working Italians. Finally, you don’t need me to tell you that President Obama’s recent initiative to make baseballing/joy-related curriculum a greater part of elementary education — well, it’s a testament to the capacity of the subject to capture the imaginations of every man, woman, child, and whatever Mickey Rourke is.
One thing that has recently come to light from the surfeit of excellent research appearing all over the place — a potentially joy-inducing quality not covered by the Very Hallowed Taxonomy — is the effect that player movement might have on our interest in a player. Certainly, this is part of the reason we anticipate great joy from new Mariner (and All-Joy reliever) Brandon League, who has gone from being a boring old Blue Jay to one of Jack Zduriencik’s Chosen Few.
It’s probably fair to say that player movement alone isn’t enough for All-Joy consideration, but when it appears in tandem with another joy-inducing quality or two, it’s enough to inspire what Emily Dickinson called the thing with feathers (and, no, it’s not Mickey Rourke).
Here are two players who’ve changed teams this offseason, with their respective All-Joy credentials.
2B: Kelly Johnson, Arizona (2,5)
Johnson has always been on the fringes of All-Joy contention, anyway. For one, His 13% walk rate and 121 wRC+ in 2007 — from a second baseman, no less — are notable. The fact that he posted those numbers after missing all of 2006 due to Tommy John surgery makes his 2007 production even more significant. Also, there’s the fact that he made the shift to second base from left field — which, even if his second base numbers haven’t been great (-7.4 UZR/150 over the last three years), is still worthy of comment.
What has catapulted Johnson into the All-Joy spotlight entering the 2010 season? Two things, really. For one, there’s the issue of his batted ball numbers. After posting BABIPs of .330 and .344 in 2007 and 2008, that number fell to .249 in 2009. Secondly, there’s the move to Arizona’s Chase Field. According to the most recent edition of the Bill James Handbook, Turner Field has had park indices of 97 and 94 for left-handed batting average and home runs, respectively. Chase Field rates as a 103 and 115 in the same categories. The likelihood of Johnson hitting something like 2007′s 16 home runs is pretty good, I think.
UTIF: Adam Rosales, Oakland (2,4,5)
As a 26-year-old in the International League last year, Rosales posted an MLE either of .297/.347/.505 (Minor League Splits) or .309/.373/.573 (Baseball Prospectus), depending on who you believe. A certain type of reader might cite the paucity of plate appearances (125) and cite sample size issue. To which gesture I’d reply: “Stop it with your Tyranny of Reason!”
CHONE projects Rosales to have something like a league-average bat, and, provided that TotalZone isn’t a lying liarface from Liarville, it appears as though Rosales can handle shortstop. Now that he’s in Oakland, the chances of him securing some playing time have probably improved. Yeah, he’ll still be a back-up at short and second, but at least he’ll be the primary back-up. That was less the case in Cincy, where he had Paul Janish sticking around and the specter of Dusty Baker with which to contend.
For those keeping score at home, here’s the current All-Joy Roster:
C Kurt Suzuki 1B Brian Myrow 2B Kelly Johnson SS Ben Zobrist LF Chris Heisey CF Ryan Sweeney RF Daniel Nava UTIF Adam Rosales SP Billy Buckner SP Jason Godin RP Brandon League RP Kevin Jepsen