David DeJesus, Alex Rios, and Perception

Today, the Rays acquired David DeJesus from the Nationals a few days after Washington got him from the Cubs. The cost of both acquisitions was either a minor prospect or cash, as DeJesus is being moved essentially as a cost savings maneuver. He wasn’t in big demand at the trade deadline, and isn’t seen as a major acquisition.

A few weeks ago, the Rangers acquired Alex Rios from the White Sox, after this transaction was rumored for weeks heading up to the trade deadline. The Rangers received a lot of praise for getting a deal done in the wake of Nelson Cruz‘s suspension, with several people noting that the Rangers got both “the best hitter” (Rios) and “the best pitcher” (Matt Garza) available this summer.

Perception is a funny thing. Here’s David DeJesus and Alex Rios, season to date.

Alex Rios 511 0.276 0.325 0.414 0.324 99 0.9 5.9 1.9
David DeJesus 322 0.247 0.327 0.397 0.322 99 5.5 1.8 1.9

And, if you think a few hundred at-bats isn’t a fair comparison, here are their totals over the last three seasons.

David DeJesus 1,410 0.251 0.335 0.392 0.322 100 8.5 2.4 5.1
Alex Rios 1,721 0.270 0.309 0.430 0.319 96 -5.8 15.5 5.0

Both are outfielders. Both came up as center fielders but have spent a lot of time in the corners over the last few years, though DeJesus has primarily played CF for the Cubs this year, and is probably the better defender of the pair. Both are basically league average hitters. Rios is a much better baserunner. Most of this stuff cancels out, and they’re pretty similarly valuable players. Rios is a year younger, if you’re looking for a tie-breaker.

I’ve got a better one, though. Alex Rios is guaranteed $13 million in salary next year, and will be due a $1 million buyout on his 2015 option at the end of the season. David DeJesus is under team control due to a $6.5 million team option that the Rays hold for next season, with a $1 million buyout if they prefer to let him walk.

Basically, DeJesus earns exactly half of what Rios makes, and the Rays didn’t have to give up their version of Leury Garcia — a 22-year-old who looks likely to be a utility player, but still something of an asset — to get him. And everyone yawned.

The baseball media has come a long way, but the perception of players is still heavily driven by batting average, home runs, and RBIs, with a side of stolen bases thrown in for good measure. Rios wins all of these measures, with DeJesus making up the difference in walks, doubles, and defense. Those things still just aren’t valued all that highly, so no one cares that the Rays picked up an underpaid league average player for nothing today, while the Rangers got kudos for picking up an overpaid league average player a few weeks ago.

Walks and doubles count. David DeJesus is a nifty little player. He’s probably going to be worth $6.5 million next year, or something close to it. Moves like this are why the Rays are good, even if it’s not a very exciting transaction. Exciting doesn’t equate to valuable. Alex Rios is more exciting than David DeJesus, but there’s not a lot of evidence that he’s actually a better baseball player.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

69 Responses to “David DeJesus, Alex Rios, and Perception”

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  1. Charlie says:

    Typical Tampa.

    +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Balthazar says:

      Agreed. DeJesus struck me as a ‘Rays guy’ the moment they acquired him. And in versatility to—another ‘Rays guy’ feature—in that he plays all three outfield positions.

      One thing not mentioned in the post is thaat DeJesus has a significant platoon split, being better than league average against righties, but not near it against lefties. To me, this is a _futher_ example of how Tampa’s approach beats the league: Tampa got a guy who is _well better than league average_ against two thirds of the pitchers in the game. If deployed properly, DeJesus can be a damned good pick-up for them, and clearly they know it.

      Looking at Tampa’s line-up, at first glance it’s hard to see how they’re pushing for their division lead with a near lock on post-season. Looking at the thinking behind and utilization implied in the DeJesus addition, and it’s _obvious_ how they got where they are.

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      • TKDC says:

        This post really underscores the point about something; I’m not sure what because of all the underscores.

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  2. tz says:

    Dave, has anyone ever put together a “Personal Mendoza Line” statistic?

    What your comparison of DeJesus and Rios shows is that DeJesus is an average major league outfielder batting .250, while Rios has exactly the same value while batting .270.

    The Personal Mendoza Line would simply be the batting average needed for a player to be at a replacement level. So someone like DeJesus might have a .200 PML, while Rios might have a .220 PML.

    The idea here is to give “old school” baseball followers a measure of how low of a batting average someone could have and still add value to a major league roster.

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    • Cubbie Blues says:

      It can go pretty low. Look at Carlos Pena 2011 with a .225 AVG with 122 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR.

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    • Preston says:

      This is assuming that walks and power are constants, they are generally more stable than BA, but also vary. So even if you came up with a player’s “PM” would change as those other variables changed. And that’s not even including the defensive component (which might be the most unstable).

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      • tz says:

        This is exactly why I haven’t tried to come up with a version of this statistic. You would also need to make an assumption about how ISO would vary for a change in batting average (are all marginal hits singles, or do they vary in proportion to the player’s actual statistics)

        Still, it might be fun to look at this for career statistics on retired players. I could see someone like Mike Cameron with a .180-.200 PML, while Bill Buckner might have a PML of .250 or even higher.

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  3. Bradley says:

    Well, one major difference is that one is an everyday player and the other is big side of a platoon.

    DeJesus has a 26 wRC+ against LHP over the past three years compared to Rios’ 92 vs RHP.

    Rios can play every day, but DeJesus can’t even consider hitting LHP.

    If DeJesus had the PAs against LHP that a normal everyday LHB would, rather than the 21% he has now… their numbers would be a little further apart.

    And I’m not saying DeJesus doesn’t have value, clearly he does… but it’s as a platoon OF that you have to protect rather than an everyday player.

    +43 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bullpen Bully says:

      David DeJesus does not require protection because protection is a myth. Also, DeJesus produces as much value in a not-quite-daily role as Rios does in a daily role, so it’s moot point. Their contributions are equal, even if they contribute in different ways.

      -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bradley says:

        Protection is not a myth when you mean “Prevent player who can’t hit water falling out of a boat against a certain handed pitcher from ever seeing that type of handed pitcher when possible”.

        I did not mean “lineup protection”.

        And the value of DeJesus would go down with increased playing time because of how incredibly awful he is when presented with a southpaw flinging baseballs.

        Platooning is a good idea, and platoon players are valuable. But looking at their production when they are sheltered from situations that other players are not needs to be considered.

        You cannot platoon all 8 or 9 non pitchers in your lineup every day. Some of your players will have to be able to be counted on pretty much every day because of a finite number of roster spaces.

        A player that can fulfill an everyday role has an element of value that a player who must be platooned does not. And again, that’s not to say platoon players or DeJesus isn’t valuable, he is. But it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison when if you gave DeJesus more PA, it would be against pitchers that make him look silly and his WAR would go down rather than up.

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      • maguro says:

        The point is that if you have DeJesus, you also need to devote a roster spot to a righthanded platoon partner for him, and there’s an opportunity cost there that doesn’t exist for a guy like Rios.

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        • kevin says:

          This is a good point. If any team is equipped to handle such a player properly, it’s the Rays!

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      • Baltar says:

        I really don’t understand the voting here. Everything Bradley says is off-point. If both have the same WAR, then the guy playing more is less valuable than the guy who plays less. In the latter case, somebody else will contribute WAR when he doesn’t play.
        Everything Bullpen Bully said is true, though the first sentence was irrelevant.
        The crowd voted exactly the wrong way.
        What is this, mass hysteria?

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        • AF says:

          “If both have the same WAR, then the guy playing more is less valuable than the guy who plays less.”

          This is not true if the guy who plays less would put up a negative WAR if allowed to play more.

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    • BubbaBiscuit says:

      I think the point you just made shows that DeJesus is the more valuable player. Most PAs are expected to be against RHP and DeJesus is easily the better hitter in those situations. On a team that can take advantage of that split, the combination of players easily outperforms Rios.

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      • JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

        But are the Rangers a team that can take advatange of that split? They already have to platoon David Murphy with Craig Gentry, because Murphy has a wRC+ of 72 for his career and 51 for the season. The also can’t play Jeff Baker in the outfield as much because he needs to platoon with Moreland because Moreland sucks. If the Rangers had traded for DeJesus, their outfield would have been Murphy, Dejesus, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry. Thats 3 of your 4 outfielders with a wRC+ of 56 or lower against lefties. So no matter what they did, they would be royally screwed every time a left handed pitcher took the mound.

        Yes, David Dejesus may be more valuable than Rios if you use him correctly. But the Rangers were not in position to do that.

        +21 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The David says:

      David DeJesus vs. LHP

      2005-10: 1067 PA || .280/.346/.390 || .313 BABIP || 96 wRC+
      2011-13: 289 PA || .162/.251/.192 || .207 BABIP || 26 wRC+

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ben Hall says:


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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        So you’re saying that DeJesus has shown a marked decline in productivity against same side pitchers as he’s gotten into his thirties?

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      • TKDC says:

        There are a lot of things I was a lot better at doing in 2005 than I am now. I’m not saying this is completely without merit, but do you really think DeJesus is a good option against lefties? Right now?

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    • Balthazar says:

      Yes but no, Bradley. Rios, everyday average player + Player B, bench guy, infrequent average player (or a little above) = average production. Whereas DeJesus, above average LH platoon player + Player B, above average RH platoon player = above average production. The Rangers have very little likelihood of getting above average production out of Rios and Player B on their roster, no matter who Player B is, since Rios is likely to play full time, and is going to be average. The Rays, OTOH, have a quite good change to have an _above average_ player on their roster, since DeJesus is above average against ~2/3 of the pitchers the team will face, so even if his LH platoon partner is only average, they are looking at higher production over all. If the Rays get a RH lefty-killer who can play a little time at one infield position, they have a good shot at superior production from the combination, whereas the Rangers have NO shot at superior production. There are plenty of RH guys around who kill lefties but can’t hit righties, because those guys aren’t valuable enough in an of themselves to hold down roster spots on most teams; it’s not a hard role to staff, even if Tampa doesn’t have a great candidate now.

      This comparison definitely breaks for the Rays. That’s on production, even before $$ are figured in. Yes, the Rangers couldn’t have made use of DeJesus given how they were built—which is a design flaw in Texas, to me.

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      • chief00 says:

        That’s what I was thinking. If, for example, TOR had claimed him, he’d be an excellent LF platoon partner with Rajai Davis. Davis is a 4th OF who excels against RHP and in late-game situations (notably pinch running). That would be an example of an above-average platoon situation, imo. Plus, as you suggest, the salary situation would add to the value.

        That said, the Jays would go with two OF before dealing for Rios. :)

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      • JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

        Yes, I agree, it is a design flaw for the Rangers. It doesn’t matter how many left handed platoon bats you already have, you can always use more! Rangers definately should have gotten a third one in DeJesus. Maybe the Rangers should trade Adrian Beltre straight up for Pedro Alvarez, Elvis Andrus for Brandon Crawford, and Ian Kinsler for Daniel Murphy! And while we are at it, maybe they should trade Craig Gentry for BJ Uppton so that they can have FOUR left handed platoon outfielders! How do you like this lineup?

        1B- Moreland
        2B- Daniel Murphy
        SS- Brandon Crawford/Didi Gregorius
        3B- Pedro ALvarez
        LF- David Murphy
        CF- Leonys Martin
        RF- David DeJesus/Seth SMith
        C- AJ pierzynski

        Pretty great, huh? Also, why is Neal Cotts their only guy for lefty/lefty matchups? Sure there are plenty of guys that they have had the opprotunity to sign that would be a better value than guys like Soria and Nathan. After all, it doesn’t matter how you are built, if you aren’t prepared to make use of any platoon player that hits the waiver wire YOU HAVE A DESIGN FLAW!!!

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  4. Professor Ross Eforp says:


    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Eminor3rd says:

    Those batting lines look weird. Dejesus has 2 points more in OBP, and that cancels out a deficit of 18 points of SLG and 29 points of BA? Well, maybe BA doesn’t factor in, but that pretty much qualifies as identical OBP, yet the the SLG is nearly 2 percentage points higher.

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  6. Pre says:

    Not a big enough deal to change your point, but DeJesus has a $1.5mil buyout next year as a correction.

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  7. JK says:

    It also depends on what you choose your arbitrary endpoint to be. If the Nats got a Garcia like prospect, you could write an article praising Texas, saying, “for the same price in prospects, Texas was able to get a guy who has produced 6.1 WAR since the beginning of last year, while Tampa got a guy who has produced roughly half that at 3.2.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:


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    • Bret says:

      Good point JK. While I agree with the premises that 1) TB did good in acquiring DeJesus for very little, and 2) DeJesus skill is closer to Rios then their real trade values or salaries imply, I also believe that you could have shown ’12-’13 to show Rios as a much better player.

      I think that the Rangers did not need a Dejesus type of player to replace Cruz, and jumped a player who they viewed as in his prime that has a reasonable contract for 2014 (at which time OF would have been their biggest FA hole).

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  8. MidwestIsTheBest says:

    DeJesus would have a significantly higher WAR than Rios… If WAR accounted for relative attractiveness of spouse.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. PackBob says:

    Perception is a tough hurdle to overcome. A home run is always a home run but a great defensive play has many variables, not the least how easy a good defender can make a great play look. A walk and a single may have the same result in getting to first base, but a single has more potential for additional benefit and so more entertainment value.

    Hits win the eye test, especially for a lot of fans, and we are conditioned as humans to prioritize what we see over everything else.

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  10. Billy says:

    Heh, when I opened this article, I thought it was going to knock both of them since my perception of David DeJesus is relatively high and I’ve never loved Alex Rios. This is probably due to the fact that I tend not to like guys I would call “flash in the pan” players and I do tend to like left-handed outfield rabbits. I’m a fan of Michael Bourne, Brett Gardner, Gregor Blanco, Norichika Aoki, and Mr. DeJesus among others. I think we all see a pattern.

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  11. Brian L says:

    The key difference is the platoon vs. everyday point. Everyday players get a value boost over platoon guys (even those on the LH side) who effectively take up two roster spots with their platoon mate.

    The Rays, and a few other teams like the As, are uniquely set up to capitalize on players like this because their teams are a collection of moving parts. He’s simply much more valuable to the Rays than the majority of teams which are set up in more traditional styles. So I see this less as the Rays making a smarter evaluation of a player and his value than other teams, and more of just them understanding their team structure and valuing players accordingly.

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    • Mark says:

      While part of that may be true, it would make a lot more sense for teams to use more platoons in general. You’re going to have 4-5 bench spots, with at least one backup OF. If you’ve got two everyday OF’s, the third spot can be split up between a RH backup and a LH primary starter.

      It’s not really a waste of a roster spot from where I’m sitting.

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      • Jimbo says:

        That might be true sitting back from the action, but September is five days away. It’s a bit late to re-philosophize a slug-and-pray team like the Rangers into a platoon system. The Rays are looking for insurance.

        The Rios and DeJesus trades are not Hail Mary’s, but they are rolls of the dice. Having seen DeJesus up close and in action, I say good luck to the Rays — if you can wring greatness out of him, you are an even better team than I give you credit for.

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    • Balthazar says:

      ” . . . [M]ore of just them understanding their team structure and valuing players accordingly.” True, Brian, but you have the causality configured backwards. The Rays team structure _is intentional_. They built their team to be able to mack use of inexpensive platoon players, and ‘guys good at three of five things.’ Their pieces were designed to fit _in_ guys like DeJesus. —And had to be, given Tampa’s budgetary constraints.

      Tampa development and roster is made to allow them to squeeze maximum value out of guy’s like DeJesus. Drop in a few foundational pillars like Longoria and now Myers, and you have ‘The New Baltimore Orioles,’ looking at the Oriolds of the 60s and 70s who got excellent in a rather similar fashion: starting pitching, defense, a few big bats, lots of guys in interlocking roles.

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    • Baltar says:

      I see you are of 2 minds, and the 2 don’t agree.

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  12. steve-o says:

    I still don’t understand why the Cubs gave up DDJ in the first place. To secure a better draft position? Their minor league outfielders aren’t that close, and what 2 war player will they find for $6.5 million next year?

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    • TheUncool says:

      Well, unless the Cubs (or DeJesus) discovered the fountain of youth, it’s not like DeJesus will remain a 2-WAR (platoon) player forever until they’re ready to contend…

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      • My Dang O Lang says:

        I get that but he only had one year left, far from forever. It seems reasonable to expect similar production next year.

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  13. Jorge Fabregas says:

    Somewhat arbitrary endpoints, but during the last 2 calendar years:
    Rios 6.4 WAR
    DeJesus 3.7 WAR.

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  14. Cus says:

    Rios’ one horrific year definitely skews that data. Like Jorge said, what about the last two years?

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  15. JWLumley says:

    And Mike Rizzo gets fleeced again. He gave up Alex Meyer and top 100 prospect to get a guy who is below league average, lucked into a league average player and then gave him away for a bag of balls. Way to go Rizzo! Stop talking to GM’s that are smarter than you, call Brian Sabean and Dayton Moore the next time you want to make a trade they don’t like fangled numbers either.

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    • Pdowdy83 says:

      Interesting that you come to the conclusion Rizzo got “fleeced” when reports are the Nats are only paying a portion of the waiver claim and have now turned it into a player to be named later. According to Marc Tomkin the Rays beat reporter, the Nationals will choose from a pool of less than 5 players. So what I take from that is that Rizzo is basically getting some sort of prospect for Roger Bernadia who was a non tender candidate and a small amount of cash. Not exactly a fleecing.

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  16. BubbaNoTrubba says:

    Speaking of players moving around, where’s Lars Anderson these days?

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  17. Adam Rosales says:

    I think I passed by him on the DFA Expressway.

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  18. awalnoha says:

    Braves fan here. I had hoped the Braves would get DeJesus even before Heyward got a broken jaw. Nobody fucks with DeJesus!

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jordan says:

      Can’t believe no one’s given you props for this yet.

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    • Marjinwalker says:

      I’m presuming DeJesus had to be offered on waivers both times he was traded, right?

      So I’m wondering if this was the scenario:
      Cubs place DeJesus on waivers, Nats claim him, not wanting to risk him dropping to Atlanta. Cubs and Nats work out a deal.
      Nats, not really wanting DeJesus either, offer him on waivers to see if anyone else besides Atlanta would take him. Hello, Tampa.

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  19. ted says:

    I hate how OBP measures walks and singles the same.

    Runners don’t score from second or third on a walk.

    RBIs do mean something. To discount them as a “function of the team” is foolish.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jesse says:


      People don’t say a walk is equally valuable to a single. They say OBP is a better stat to determine value than average, and that the most important skill is the skill to not get out.

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      • Jesse says:

        Sorry, I meant to post this on the comment below.

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      • chief00 says:

        Regardless of where you intended to post it, some people do indeed say that walks are as valuable as singles. The sentence “a walk’s as good as a single” is a common one.

        Also common is the saying that ‘lead off walks always come around to score’, which isn’t said about lead off singles. This implies that, in some ways, walks are MORE valuable than singles. Whether they are accurate or not is another matter entirely. :)

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        • hk says:

          You only hear the comment “a walk’s as good as a single” from a baseball fan when the bases are empty or when the bases are loaded in a tie game with the home team batting in the 9th inning or later.

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        • chief00 says:

          Although that’s certainly one of the contexts in which it occurs (as is slo-pitch or rec baseball), I’ve been listening to commentators from a host of different teams say it for 3+ decades. Many of those commentators are ex-ball players either saying it or agreeing with the play-by-play guy who said it. :)

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  20. ted says:

    I would take a 275 hitter with a 330 OBP over a 240 hitter with a 330 OBP any day of the week.

    I don’t see how it’s possible to disagree with this.

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    • If the number of extra bases they hit was the same then the .275 would be more valuable since his SLG% and OPS would be .35 higher. Singles add to your SLG, which does make them more valuable than walks.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      So you prefer a hypothetical .275/.330/.350 hitter to the .240/.330/.600 hitter?

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      • Drew says:

        This would have been much better if your fake guy didn’t have a .360 ISO.

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        • DavidCEisen says:

          I purposefully made the difference unrealistic. It doesn’t matter it the difference in slugging would be .010 or .250, as ted would take the .275 hitter any day of the week.

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        • Other Scott says:

          That line isn’t that far off from Jose Bautista’s 2010, actually. His ISO was .357.

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    • Professor Ross Eforp says:

      Walking is a skill. Getting a hit is a combination of luck and skill. Walking is far more predictive.

      In post hoc analysis, it is an easy choice to take the player with the higher average if they hit for the same isolated power. If you want to know which player is better going forward, you have to look at things like their BABIP and their relative hitting environments.

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      • JKB says:

        Unless you have a clueless umpire, or a catcher that is an above/below average pitch framer, behind home plate. Then walking is a combination of luck and skill as well.

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  21. Martin says:

    The gNats only acquired DeJesus to block the Braves…

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  22. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Did people really consider Rios the best bat available? Rios had essentially identical production with the Sox as Alfonso Soriano did with the Cubs, albeit with a lot less power, and Soriano was coming off of a 138 wRC+ in July as compared to Rios’ 82.

    I’m not going to get into the fact that Rios has shown a marked split between first and second half production over his career, while Sori has almost always maintained it over the course of a full season.

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