Jose Lopez to Colorado

In the moments leading up to the non-tender deadline, the Mariners managed to move second baseman Jose Lopez, receiving minor league pitcher Chaz Roe from the Rockies in return. Seattle was planning to non-tender Lopez, who was a major disappointment in his seven-year Mariner career.

Lopez showed moderate power at times with Seattle, but his career has been marred by an inability to reach base, as shown by his triple slash line of .266/.297/.401. When Lopez was right, he provided some value. In 2006, 2008, and 2009, Lopez produced a wRC+ over 90 in each season and respective WARs of 1.7, 2.4, and 2.6. But 2007 and 2010 saw two offensive implosions, as Lopez only managed a 68 wRC+ in both campaigns. The result: -0.2 WAR in 2007 and +0.7 WAR in 2010. That 2010 mark was also based on a suspect +8 UZR at 3B, far different from Lopez’s reputation there (-7 FSR, matching up with what I’ve read from various Mariners outlets).

So, what does Lopez have to offer the Rockies? With the bat, one look at his home run chart (via HitTrackerOnline) should tell us.

This chart is from 2009, but you won’t find much different with the rest of Lopez’s career. Only three of Lopez’s 73 HRs since 2006 have gone to the opposite field. Unfortunately for Lopez, he has played 81 games per season in one of the toughest parks for right handed batters to hit home runs, and, more importantly, pull home runs in that time frame. The move from Seattle to Colorado should help Lopez’s offensive game immensely. According to StatCorner, the park factor for right handed HRs in Seattle was a paltry 84 (only Oakland, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh play tougher) compared to a robust 117 in Colorado. The change in park isn’t going to make Lopez into an elite hitter- regardless of how much his power goes up, he just can’t take a walk. But, while it is true that every hitter fits better in Colorado than he would in Seattle, a hitter with Lopez’s profile should see an even greater benefit.

Lopez doesn’t necessarily have to start, either. Between Chris Nelson, Johnathan Herrera, and Eric Young Jr., the Rockies certainly have other options for second base next season. Herrera, in particular, showed that he might be ready for a full time job in The Show, posting a .311 wOBA in 257 PAs last year. None of these options is by any means a sure thing, and Lopez could also serve as a backup for Ian Stewart as third base. Particularly with Clint Barmes gone, Lopez can either start at second base or backup both the keystone and the hot corner.

It’s hard to blame Seattle for giving up on Lopez. He was among the worst possible fits for that ballpark and didn’t fit into the future of the organization. For Colorado, with some uncertainty at second base and at the least a need for depth, the acquisition of Lopez for cheap works perfectly. Both teams get what they want here, and now we get to see how Jose Lopez can perform in a park that isn’t designed to stop him.



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CJ
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CJ
5 years 8 months ago

Lopez also had a +17 last year at 3d base, according to DRS. Total Zone had Lopez with a positive at 3d base (at least, according to comments I’ve read–I can’t access the TZ right now). At 2d base, for multiple years, UZR indicates he is average, and DRS says above average Given that all of the advanced defensive metrics indicate that he is a good defensive third baseman, is it possible that the fans’ defensive rating could reflect their disappointment over his offense. Most of the fan ratings come from fans of the specific team, and I don’t think they are immune to letting their disappointment / frustration with a player’s offense affect their defensive rating.

Ricky
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Ricky
5 years 8 months ago

It’s only one season of data. And if you’ve ever seen the way Lopez moves, you’ll understand why most view those positive numbers in a skeptical light. He’s serviceable at 3rd and has got a very strong arm – and maybe he’ll be even better than serviceable moving forward – but I think regression is much more likely if he continues getting time there.

CJ
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CJ
5 years 8 months ago

Yes, I understand your point. But there are multiple years of data at 2d base indicating he is around average at that position. I would expect an average 2d baseman (if he has a good arm) to become above average at 3d base.

Choo
Member
5 years 8 months ago

It doesn’t always work out that way, but Lopez looked pretty darn good at third base in 2010, and that’s after watching Adrian Beltre for 5 years. Lopez doesn’t charge particularly well, but his arm makes up for some of the extra time he needs to get the ball.

That being said, when Lopez was was playing serviceable defense at second base, he was built like a miniature A-Rod. He’s currently on his way to being built like a miniature Carlos Silva. Historically, infielders with his body type (Ronnie Belliard, Carlos Baerga, etc.) regress quickly in their late 20’s. Comparables don’t mean much until after the fact so who knows, maybe Lopez has a long and successful career at the hot corner . . .but I wouldn’t bet on it.

JohnnyK
Member
5 years 8 months ago

Related question – do the Mariners now move Figgins back to 3rd?

Choo
Member
5 years 8 months ago

Without a doubt. Hard to fathom, but Figgins managed to look 10x worse than his repulsive accumulation of UZR/PM/DRS.

joser
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joser
5 years 8 months ago

Sooner or later. If Dustin Ackley is ready to play 2B in the bigs coming out of 2011 spring training, then the former. If not (or if the M’s want to play games with Ackley’s service time) then some degree of the latter.

Goldgarf
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Goldgarf
5 years 8 months ago

So the Rockies traded Barmes last week, and now have traded back for him.

Matt
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Wait, I thought a 311 wOBA is not a good thing, especially when it’s propped up by a 330 BABIP, and unsupported by mediocre production in AAA (Which may be the most offensive park in the county).

Apparently that makes a major league ready 2B?

biondino
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biondino
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t want Herrera playing for the Rockies either, but he is an excellent and versatile defender, + at SS, 2B and 3B, he’s a patient hitter and he does the little things very well. In other words he’s a fine utilityman for the bench and that’s where I want to see him.

biondino
Guest
biondino
5 years 8 months ago

Sorry, I don’t want him *starting* for the Rockies.

KJOK
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Out of the three, the Rockies are certainly the least enamored with Herrera. 311 wOBA is also certainly above his true talent level.

The Rockies like Young, but he’s not likely to ever hit much either, although he can really run.

Nelson would be the best bet to start, but I’m guessing Lopez was acquired with the hope he’ll win the 2B job.

CamraMaan
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CamraMaan
5 years 8 months ago

I waited for Lopez to hit the majors, and I watched him play every year after he came up. At 2B he is serviceable at best. He lacks range, and the more weight he puts on the less range he seems to have. He has a good glove 90% of the time, and then 10% of the time you find yourself screaming at him because he muffed a catch and then kicked the ball into the OF, or something to that effect. But at 3B last year he really looked a lot better, because his range was less of a factor, his glove work was more precise (overall improvement?), and the value of his arm strength really came out. If you’ve ever seen Beltre make crazy good throws at 3B, Lopez had a few of those as well. While I screamed at some of his blunders at 2B, he had more than a few at 3B that made me say “wow”. He may have learned some things fielding 3B that will help him in the future at 2B, if that’s where he’s needed.

On offense, the kid is a real good FB hitter, and by memory he generally likes it middle to up in the zone, but he can swing with power decently all over the strike zone, but I have a hard time classifying him as a power hitter. Still, I’m biased to him hitting at Safeco, where he was a horrible profile to hit at. There, on a good year he would be a 25 HR guy max over a season. But at Coors that could change. The field dimensions won’t help him in the move, but the elevation and air density should. He might turn into a 30 HR potential guy at Coors, if “healthy”. Frankly, with Ian at 3B, Lopez might not show enough bat to override his defensive deficiencies in a battle to win the 2B job. But if he has learned some new tricks at 3B that help him a little at 2B, and he goes on a diet, he might turn into a decent starter at 2B

joser
Guest
joser
5 years 8 months ago

It’s really neither here nor there as far as Fangraphs’ statistical raison d’être goes, but I’d note in passing that Lopez has suffered through more than the usual share of blows in his personal life: a brother killed in a motorcycle accident at the start of the 2008 season, and then a sister dying of cancer in the middle of the 2009 season. Whether or not this had (or continues to have) any effect on his performance I have no idea, and ultimately it really doesn’t matter: some things are just more important than baseball.

So I hope a fresh start in a home park friendlier to his swing gives him the opportunity to have a full and productive baseball career, knowing that he would trade it all in an instant to get something else back.

n_schaef
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n_schaef
5 years 8 months ago

Fun reminder that Dave Cameron said Jose Lopez was roughly as valuable as John Danks.

v-Skippy
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v-Skippy
5 years 8 months ago

Comparing a 26 year old middle infielder with maybe average defense, 25 HR power and who put up 2.6 WAR as roughly equal to a 25 year old SP with a 4.59FIP and 4.44xFIP who put up 2.9WAR is not that outlandish. I would have ranked Danks as more valuable but I can see the logic in the comparison.

misterjonez
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misterjonez
5 years 8 months ago

I’m not a Dave Cameron nuthugger by any stretch of the imagination (I might have been banned at USSM in the past, can’t really remember), but he was right in that particular comparison/observation regarding Lopez and Danks. Usually though, even when he’s not ‘right,’ he’s bringing up interesting points that can further our collective understanding of baseball economics and player valuations.

His personality sucks a bit to interact with, but he’s a really good observer of baseball and has a different way of looking at things. His contributions to our total knowledge base deserves more than this (sometimes hilarious) anti-DC sentiment we see out there.

I guess people might just be jealous.

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