Free Agent Bargain: Joe Crede

So, this time, I swear, the free agent bargain is actually a free agent.

Much like with Juan Rivera, this potential bargain was a tremendous player in 2006 – he hit .283/.323/.506, good for a 0.71 WPA/LI in 586 plate appearances. The power overcame the low on base rate, and he was a somewhat above average hitter. Meanwhile, John Dewan’s +/- system had him at +31 plays at his position, a staggering total that profiled him as an elite defender. As a third baseman, the combination of above average bat and remarkably awesome glove made him one of the game’s under-appeciated stars.

I’m guessing that practically no one has figured out that I’m talking about Joe Crede, because he certainly didn’t get much publicity for his outstanding 2006 at the time. As defensive performances get more notoriety, however, we can look back at that season and recognize it as one of the best under-the-radar seasons in recent history.

However, in 2007, Crede’s balky balk finally went out, and he had to undergo season ending back surgery. Those back problems cut his 2008 season short as well, and over the last two years, he’s been limited to just 551 plate appearances while playing through pain. His reliability is a real question, and the White Sox are expected to go another direction in their quest for a full time third baseman.

Now, I’m not a doctor, so don’t take this as any kind of endorsement of his future health. For all I know, his back problems could be career ending. However, if they’re not, and the medical people can figure out how to keep him on the field, his 2008 performance should assure potential GMs that Crede can still play.

The power is still there – he had a .212 ISO, built on 36 extra base hits in just 335 at-bats. His contact rate was identical to his 2006 performance, so it doesn’t appear he had to adjust his swing to compensate for the pain. Contact and power are the building blocks of a good hitter, and Crede’s abilities in those areas didn’t seem to suffer when he was on the field.

Defensively, it’s pretty much the same story. He’s played just over 1,200 innings at third base the last two years, basically a full season’s worth of games, and +/- has him at +24 plays over that time. Even as a step down from his +31 in 2006, it’s a great rating. You could conservatively drop his true talent level to +15, accounting for more aging, and he’d still be among the very best hot corner defenders around.

In terms of on field skills, Crede projects as something close to a league average hitter with defense that’s worth +1.5 to +2.0 wins above an average third baseman. Over a full season, that would make Crede a +3.5 to +4 win player. If he was completely healthy, we’d expect him to get something like $15 million a year in a long term deal.

But he’s not healthy, and so he’s not going to get anything close to that. It’d be shocking if he got anything beyond a one year offer with a team option for 2010. But if he can stay on the field, even for 100-120 games a year, he’s got the abilities to play at an all-star level. Right now, he’s Milton Bradley with less attitude problems, and there are probably quite a few teams who wish they would have taken a chance on Bradley last winter.

It all depends on his health, because there shouldn’t be too many questions about Joe Crede‘s abilities to help a winning team when he’s on the field.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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The Cheat
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Ever since Crede “fixed” his swing in late ’05, he’s been an excellent defensive, .850 OPS 3B when healthy. But when his back flares up, he turns into a plus defensive .500 OPS (or worse) infield pop-up machine.

He’d be a great pickup on a one-year deal, but anything resembling a long-term commitment will likely come back to bite the signing team.

Seth
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

He should be a nice pickup after the M’s inadvisedly dump Beltre…

WY
Guest
WY
7 years 6 months ago

“Balky balk”?

Jack
Guest
Jack
7 years 6 months ago

I seem to be noticing a pattern here with all the great defenders flying under the radar. You’d think GMs would start noticing the value, or maybe it’s just that all the signings that do this fly under the radar.

dan
Guest
dan
7 years 6 months ago

I believe he won the Silver Slugger in 2006 over A-Rod. Completely undeserved, but his performance obviously got noticed by someone.

Jeff
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Notoriety = n. The quality or condition of being notorious. It is not a synonym for famous.

As for baseball issues; have you discounted Crede’s home park as playing a large part in his ISO? Cellular field adds home runs at a rate of 25% according to park effects.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Gamble is more like it. A 3B with back problems is a total gamble, and you don’t even have to go far to see what happens, look at the A’s signing Eric Chavez to his long-term, big money contract. Out of all the young offensive stars the A’s could have signed, he’s probably the worse in terms of production and return after the contract was signed, Tejeda, even Giambi, were better bets.

Crede would be a bargain only if the team can sign him to a $1-3M contract, because the market has shown what a player of his ability, but who has been healthy, can get on the market, Pedro Feliz got a 2 year contract for about $9M plus a third year option, his defense and offense has been on par with Crede, once you discount Crede for playing at a homer park like Comminsky and adjust up Feliz for playing at pitcher’s park like AT&T. For him to be a bargain, he has to get less than what Feliz got only less to account for his injury problems.

Clicky
Guest
Clicky
7 years 6 months ago

And what’s one of the definitions of notorious? Publicly or generally known. There was nothing wrong with Dave’s use of the word. Way to make an ass of yourself, Jeffy.

Jeff
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Main Entry:
no·to·ri·ous Listen to the pronunciation of notorious
Pronunciation:
\nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs, nə-\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Medieval Latin notorius, from Late Latin notorium information, indictment, from Latin noscere to come to know — more at know
Date:
1534

: generally known and talked of ; especially : widely and unfavorably known.

You see, especially: widely and unfavorably known. If enough people use a word improperly it becomes an accepted definition, it does not make it proper. And really, calling me Jeffy is supposed to be belittling but calling yourself “clicky” is what, pray tell?

Clicky
Guest
Clicky
7 years 6 months ago

You actually have it completely backwards. The word entered the English language in the mid-1500s meaning “commonly known” and didn’t get its negative connotation until the seventeenth century, so Dave actually used the purest meaning of the word.

Nice try though. Care to dig yourself any deeper?

LB
Guest
LB
7 years 6 months ago

Nice job clicky.

STEVEN
Guest
STEVEN
7 years 6 months ago

Wow, great language discussion guys.

Anyway, I think he would be a good pickup for the twins if he can sign for a 1 year deal. He wouldn’t have to play every day as Buscher would spell him against rightys sometimes. Then they wouldn’t have to give up an arm and a leg for Beltre.

Ender
Guest
Ender
7 years 6 months ago

He would be a good match for the Brewers who could slide Hall into a utility infielder role. If Crede has back issues then Hall can fill in for him and they have some younger players who might be ready by the end of the year at 3B as well.

Joe
Guest
Joe
7 years 6 months ago

“His contact rate was identical to his 2006 performance, so it doesn’t appear he had to adjust his swing to compensate for the pain”

I am a die hard white sox fan and let me tell you this is just not the case. Joe Crede when his back is bothering him, even if hes playing, reverts to Mr. Infield Pop up with a long loopy swing. This is what we saw in his production of about a .275 hitter in Mid May to a .285 hitter in mid June under healthy conditions. By July it was reported he was getting back treatment for some ongoing pain and that he had been trying to play through. His batting avg dipped to about .255 in late July before he was finally shelved for an extended period of time. He came back in late Aug/Early Sept for about 7-8 games and was a pop out and strike out machine. He eventually went down again the first week of Sept and ended 2008 with .248 avg and .316 OBP.

Dont get me wrong I love the guy, his defense str8 up wins games, hes a great 3B. But he is a low contact Pop Up machine and a base clogger. Believe me the white sox have many of these and they dont need anymore. His back will always be an issue and therefore he will always be unrealiable.

Clicky
Guest
Clicky
7 years 6 months ago

You come on a sabermetric website talking about base clogging and we’re supposed to take you seriously? Fuck off.

Jin Kaupp
Guest
6 years 11 days ago

Good thought. I love it. Thanks for posting

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