David DeJesus Is Just Fine

Like most hitters in Oakland this year, David DeJesus is not doing so well. The A’s acquired him from the Royals to give their offense a spark, but thus far he has racked up just a .229/.313/.358 line and has begun to find himself on the bench with some regularity. During interleague play, Bob Melvin has chosen to use Hideki Matsui in the outfield in lieu of playing DeJesus, a sign of just how uninterested Melvin is in using DeJesus.

That said, DeJesus is actually having a pretty standard season in many areas. In fact, take a look at his 2011 marks compared to the last two seasons:

BB%:

2009: 8.1%
2010: 8.6%
2011: 8.9%

K%:

2009: 15.6%
2010: 13.4%
2011: 15.1%

ISO:

2009: .152
2010: .125
2011: .128

He’s walking at the same clip he always does, striking out at the same rate, and hitting for roughly the same amount of power (especially after you take park factors into account). DeJesus doesn’t seem to have experienced a huge drop-off in his skill set, though the results have obviously been worse than he had hoped for. So, what’s been the problem?

Well, as is often the case when a guy’s batting average takes a nosedive, his BABIP is well below expected marks, but that’s not really the story here. Instead, it’s his platoon splits that are more interesting:

wRC+, vs RHPs:

2009: 115
2010: 135
2011: 128

wRC+, vs LHPs:

2009: 80
2010: 100
2011: -26

Against righties, DeJesus has been just fine, but against southpaws, he’s turned into a pumpkin. He has just 7 hits in 56 at-bats, all of them singles, and he’s only drawn a pair of walks from a LHP all year. He came into the season with a career OPS against lefties over .700, but this year it’s just .280, and has dragged his overall line into the ground with it.

The good-ish news is that most of DeJesus’ struggles against lefties could be chalked up to a crazy low .156 BABIP, and history suggests he’ll hit them well enough going forward that he won’t need to be platooned. But even if another team in the market for an outfielder this summer does think that DeJesus’ problems are real, he could be platooned and most of his 2011 struggles would be mitigated.

With a $6 million salary, impending free agency, and a pretty ugly batting line, DeJesus probably won’t be at the top of most teams wish list this summer. There are, however, plenty of reasons to think that his second half could be quite a bit better than his first half, and he still has the skills to be a nice player for a contender down the stretch.

The problem for bargain hunting GMs is that the A’s invariably know all this as well, so they might just decide to hang onto DeJesus until his bat heats up or they are 100% certain that they can’t win the mediocre AL West. Billy Beane isn’t the type of GM that will hand over a decent player because of a low BABIP against southpaws in 60 plate appearances. If Beane is still convinced that DeJesus can play, he might not be interested in entertaining low-ball offers for DeJesus, and it’s hard to see another team ponying up a good prospect for a guy who is currently struggling.

If a team can talk Oakland out of DeJesus, however, they might just find themselves with a nifty little outfielder for the stretch run, and potentially upgrade their roster without having to give up the farm to do it.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


10 Responses to “David DeJesus Is Just Fine”

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  1. BSally says:

    Cough ATLANTA cough

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  2. Yirmiyahu says:

    His career BABIP entering this season was .322. If you were to raise his 2011 BABIP to .322, keep all his other 2011 numbers the same (including the proportion of 1B/2B/3B), his line this season would be .290/.367/.434/.801.

    The only question is how much of the BABIP is bad luck, how much is park factor, and how much is skill. His batted ball numbers are all typical for him, with a bit more FB’s than usual. But his BABIP is low on all types of batted balls.

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  3. JMS says:

    I went to HS with DD and would love to see him get traded to a contender (such as Atlanta)

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  4. TheGrandSlamwich says:

    The A’s are only 5 1/2 games out with a lot of season to go! Can’t throw the season and trade off everything yet. At this point, I think I’d still take DeJesus over Mazzaro ROS despite all the A’s SP injuries. Trading DeJesus now, when his value is at a career low is not happening.

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  5. Paul says:

    As per usual in a Dave Cameron article, one must look for what is missing. His UZR 150 is -7. The argument in favor of DeJesus as a useful player has never been about his bat. If his valuation were only about the bat, we’d be talking about a 4th OFer and Beane would be an idiot not to unload his salary for a AA middle reliever. Now that he’s actually hurting them on defense, at his salary he’s probably a late season waiver pass through option only.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      You’re wrong. He’s a well-rounded guy who doesn’t stand out in any one area (which is why he’s always been underrated). Above average discipline, contact, BABIP, and defense. Average power. Add it all up and you get a 2.5-3.0 WAR player. That’s a solid starter.

      As far as defense, he’s quite good at the corners, but average to below-average in CF. His UZR numbers this year are irrelevant. Use defensive stats over a 3+ year sample, and preferably combine multiple independent metrics.

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      • Paul says:

        UZR/150 since 2007 all OF positions:

        -.6
        -4
        16.2
        4.4
        -15.9

        Aggregate defensive rankings are not as good as you think. Take a look at his WAR components and you’ll see huge fluctuations in valuations for bat/baserunning/defense.

        Go ahead and average all those together and spread them over three years to get an average player if you want. An advanced scout for a playoff team is going to see the numbers dropoff and confirm everything but the very average bat, a nice pinch hitter on a playoff team.

        Anybody’s who has watched the player for a couple years knows he is now a below average runner, so his defense and baserunning are no longer possible to be plus. He has always had a noodle arm, but got to the ball very quickly and had excellent mechanics. Take away the getting to the ball quickly part and now he’s Johnny Damon out there.

        Also, we need to use UZR/150 because he gets hurt a lot. “Add it all up” and what you have is a cheap gamble on Billy Beane’s part, trading spare parts from a position of strength. He’ll be the first to tell you those don’t always work out.

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  6. Edwincnelson says:

    Well if you add it all up we should ding Albert Pujols for his combined -5.8 UZR @3rd when we evaluate his defense, but we don’t, because he plays 1B now and that wouldn’t be fair.

    As a full time LF DeJesus posted a 16.6 UZR 150 in 2009 and in 2010 was a 3.5 in RF. Not a Gold Glove but better than average. In 08′ he was a 22.2 in Lf in 105 plays and -22.8 in CF in 128 plays. So he’s not a bad outfielder, he’s just a bad CF.

    The fact that the Royals played DeJesus in CF for an astounding 4339 innings isn’t his fault, and is more of a testament to the Royals’ ineptitude than DeJesus’ ability as an outfielder.

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