Making Sense of the Fourth Outfielder Fallacy

There are sometimes things so obvious in baseball that we needn’t be reminded of them. One of these things is that Angel Pagan is better at baseball than Jeff Francoeur. Dave Cameron already wrote about Pagan’s awesomeness. With Beltran rehabbing, I wrote about the inevitable over a month ago, saying:

…I think it’d be optimal for the Mets to bench Francoeur for good and put Carlos Beltran in right field. Beltran will be coming off serious knee issues and declined defensively last year. The Mets can mitigate his stress back in the outfield by putting him in right, leaving Pagan in center, and of course having Jason Bay in left field. Chris Carter and Jeff Francoeur can sit on the bench, and Gary Matthews Jr. can go home and buy really cool stuff with his tens of millions of dollars.

Fortunately, the Mets did cut ties with Matthews, have played Chris Carter more, and have Beltran playing minor league games. So it’s the end of June, and here are where Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan stand for 2010:

Angel Pagan: .302/.363/.443, .357 wOBA, 123 wRC+, 10.0 UZR/150, 2.5 WAR
Jeff Francoeur: .270/.320/.425, .321 wOBA, 99 wRC+, -0.9 UZR/150, 0.7 WAR

As I said earlier, this is not even close. But Joe Lapointe of The New York Times fills us in on what will actually happen when Beltran returns:

The question is where Pagan will play when Beltran comes back. General Manager Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel maintained Tuesday that Beltran would return as a center fielder — there had been some speculation that he might move to right field, or left, to lessen the running he would have to do — and that the versatile Pagan would rotate through all three outfield positions, playing behind Beltran, left fielder Jason Bay and right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

This, simply put, is downright insanity, and honestly insulting to Angel Pagan. There’s no crying in baseball, but excuse me if I may get a little emotional for this guy if what Lapointe says actually comes to fruition. At the least the Mets should platoon Francoeur and Pagan in right field, as Pagan hits lefties relatively poorly and the opposite is true of Francoeur. Just in case you were thinking that maybe Francoeur beats Pagan in traditional stats:

Jeff Francoeur. : 74 games, .270 BA, 8 homers, 33 runs, 40 RBI, 7 stolen bases
Angel Pagan: 69 games, .302 BA, 4 homers, 41 runs, 35 RBI, 14 stolen bases

So it’s not the traditional stats. It’s not the advanced metrics. Then what is it? It firstly has to do with Jeff Francoeur, as Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog said:

…yes, i know francouer is a ‘cool guy,’ and he does grow one hell of a beard, and i know he looks you in the eye when he talks and he’s a great quote… i know this… i have talked to him on several occasions and he seems like a terrific person, and someone who it would be fun to hang out with… but, let’s not go crazy here…Francoeur is on pace to hit around .265 with a .320 OBP, 16 HR and 85 RBI this season.
…that’s good, don’t get me wrong, and i love his defense and his arm and i don’t underestimate how much of an impact he has on the opposing team’s running game… i get it… but, i just don’t understand why his arm and potential 15 HR is enough to kick pagan to the bench…

The Mets media has championed Francoeur while consistently chiding Angel Pagan for not having a solid “Baseball IQ” (that’s a whole other, scary-to-think-about issue). Francoeur is gritty. He makes funny faces and swings as if he’s trying harder than everyone else and reminds you of a quarterback from an SEC school in the 1960s. That’s one part of the equation holding Pagan back.

The other is what I’d like to call the “Fourth Outfielder Fallacy.” This is the fallacy that just because a player can play all three outfield positions, he is best served as a fourth outfielder. Most of the time, said outfielder did come up as a bench player who rotated around the outfield positions, but after a good time of solid play, still couldn’t shed the title of “fourth outfielder.” Fans are human, and humans love consistency and purpose. Fourth outfielders make them comfortable. It also causes people to doubt whether or not a fourth outfielder could ever be a real starting outfielder, because, well, I don’t know if there’s a real logical reason as to why, but people still say it anyway. Angel Pagan may become the latest casualty of the Fourth Outfielder Fallacy. If so, we can only hope he’s the last.




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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


68 Responses to “Making Sense of the Fourth Outfielder Fallacy”

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  1. Rick says:

    It seems that what happens in the mental calculus of the 4th OF is the obsession with getting a certain kind of offensive production from certain defensive positions. Once they decide that the player is not going to play CF, managers start looking for slugging. Defensive and OBP considerations become secondary.

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    • Mike K. says:

      Yankee fans treated Brett Gardner this way the past couple of seasons, saying he didn’t hit enough for a LF so if he wasn’t going to start in CF he wasn’t any better than a 4th OF. Fortunately – the ones I know anyway – seem to have wised up.

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      • Jon says:

        My father still gives me the “You need to have power to play a corner OF position” dribble, so I know the feeling. I keep telling him that this is 2010, not the mid 1900s.

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  2. GeorgeF says:

    “The Mets media has championed Francoeur while consistently chiding Angel Pagan for not having a solid “Baseball IQ” (that’s a whole other, scary-to-think-about issue). Francoeur is gritty. He makes funny faces and swings as if he’s trying harder than everyone else and reminds you of a quarterback from an SEC school in the 1960s. That’s one part of the equation holding Pagan back.”

    I think that’s the essential part of the equation that is holding Pagan back.
    Let’s be honest: the representation of these two players in the eyes of the NY media has more to do with race than anything else. It’s really appalling and rather blatant, even while being something almost no one openly discusses (there are still ignorant fans who call sports-talk stations like WFAN here in NY to complain about the amount of latin-american born players on the Mets). What else can it possibly be? What makes this even more ludicrous is that it appears that this type of discourse as perpetuated by the NY media has infiltrated the organization itself, and it has left Minaya and Manuel thinking that Francouer and all his “grit” need to start over Pagan. It is all so mind numbing.

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    • mr met says:

      No, actually it has very little to do with race.

      It has alot to do with quotes like this

      “He crushed that one. He’s got stupid pop. I said to David Wright, ‘Mine went farther.’ David said, ‘Mine went out faster.’ Then Ike hit his, and we both shut up.”

      from Jeff Francouer.

      He is a very likable guy and has the media on his side because he is such a good quote, even with his stupid teeth.

      Take it down a notch.

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    • Toz says:

      Loaded statement with absolutely no backing at all. First, you need to take the yah-hoos that call into talk radio and separate them from most of the media and the organization itself. Second, take a good look at the numbers between Pagan and Franceour, and some of the solid analysis in these comments…you’ll find that HOF’er Angel Pagan is not really a HOF’er. Third, you penalize Franceour for being a funny white guy…aren’t you really just doing the same thing in reverse?

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      • J.P. says:

        He’s penalizing Franceour for being worse at baseball than Angel Pagan, something a baseball front office should also be doing. The quote thing should be irrelevant.

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      • Mr. Sanchez says:

        Is Francouer trying to be funny or serious when he says things like If OBP was important why don’t they put in on the scoreboard and grand slams are bad because they kill rallies? After reading his comments for a few years, I’d be hesitant to say he has a higher baseball IQ than others.

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      • wobatus says:

        J.P. and Pat. Francouer is not worse at baseball than Angel pagan. he is worse at hitting right-handed pitchers, the majority of pitchers. Their career platoon splits are mirror images. If there were more left-handers than right-handers, Francouer would be the “better” player. Pagan is the better fielder, but since UZR is kind of like batting average, I look at career numbers and Francouer is a pretty good rightfielder. At Francouer’s age now, 26, pagan had been just a mediocre defensive replacement.

        I agree, last 2-3 years, Pagan has outperformed Francouer. That adds up to about 1 full season of at-bats for pagan. And I suppose it would seem to be fair to say that Francouer is “worse at baseball” since baseball in fact does have more righthanded pitchers than left-handed pitchers. But I prefer to look at it that they both have their strengths and flaws. One of pagan’s being that he has not hit lefties well generally in his career. last year he was pretty good against them, and perhaps given more time. Or regressing them to league average platoon splits. But I don’t really think you need to look much beyond the fact that Frenchy has more at bats against lefties in his career than pagan has total at bats, and Frenchy hits them pretty well.

        If beltran is going to play cf, then pagan and Frenchy are a natural rf platoon, with Pagan also spelling Beltran now and then since beltran is coming off injury.

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      • spindoctor says:

        The past 2.5 seasons of UZR show that Francoeur is a below average RF, by that metric at least. If he posts another negative UZR/150, 3 straight seasons of data tell me he’s really declined from the early stage of his career in the field.

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      • wobatus says:

        Spindoctor, from the UZR primer: “there is still a potentially large gap between what you might see on the field if you were to watch every play of every game and what UZR “says” happened on the field. And that is one of several reasons why one year or even 10 years of UZR (or any other sample metric) does not give us a perfect estimate of a player’s true talent or even an accurate picture of what actually happened on the field. The reason for that is that the data is imperfect.”

        That primer also says a year and a half to 2 years is equivalent to a year of OPS for “reliability.” I have read elsewhere that it is more like 3.

        Frenchy has had very slight negative UZRs last few years. He had very large positive UZRs earlier in his career. It may be that he has regressed a little bit, certainly if you emphasize recent years he looks maybe slightly below average. Going by a metric that is not the be all and end all of defensive quality. Frenchy seems like a pretty good defensive rf to me.

        He’s not at pagan’s level, although he has a great arm. And he doesn’t hit lefties anywhere near as well as pagan. So Angel has the overall better package, but Frenchy has strengths as well, in some areas where Pagan is lacking. Pagan seems helped a little by Citifield whereas I would think that holds Frenchy back slightly.

        I like pagan, and agree he should get the lion’s share of at-bats.

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      • wobatus says:

        whoops, meant to say he doesn’t hit righties anywhere near as well as pagan.

        In any event, I really think the only reason pagan is thought of as the far superior player is because he hits well against the pitchers that make up the majority-right handers, whereas Frenchy hits the minority better.

        Frenchy:

        rh: wRC+ 88, lh 116

        Pagan:

        rh: 113, lh: 80.

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  3. CaseyB says:

    :Let’s be honest: the representation of these two players in the eyes of the NY media has more to do with race than anything else.”

    Wow, that’s a loaded statement and I disagree with it. Maybe Francoeur’s treatment by the media has more to do with track record, veteran status, and the chemistry factor. Let’s face it, Frenchy is probably the most likable, funny, outgoing Met from a pure personality perspective, and I think that rubs off on the media. If you don’t think that matters, just think how they treat Manuel who is very personable vs. how they treated Randolph who was a pretty defensive closed individual with the NY media. From many reports, he’s also a key factor in the better chemistry this year in the Mets clubhouse. (Obviously, if you think the media is biased, then that last point is moot but I believe Frenchy’s reported influence in the clubhouse is real).

    Also, I think the idea as expressed by MInaya is to have more of a rotating outfield and not 3 regular outfielders and a backup (Pagan) as expressed by Pat Andriola.

    This decision is not a knock on Pagan so much as a realization that they need to protect their depth. Burying any one of the 4 outfielders in favor of the other 3 is counter-productive as you risk totally losing the player you bench — both mentally and in terms of game preparedness. Moreover, both Pagan and Beltran have a history of being on the DL, so to assume that all 4 of these outfielders will remain healthy from here on in is wishful thinking. So it’s best to keep all 4 fresh — and sharp — and be prepared for injuries. If one or two of the 4 were having MVP type seasons I think they would deserve the nod to play almost full time. But none of them are. So put everyone in the mix. This is the best solution.

    To think that the decision by Omar and Jerry, who are minorities, is being influenced by bias on the part of the mostly white media is an insult to both these men. It’s a pure baseball decision based on both short and long term needs.

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    • spindoctor says:

      Track record and Jeff Francoeur spun together in a positive way? Shame on you! ;)

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      • CaseyB says:

        In 2007, Francoeur put up a 4 WAR season, and he’s had 2 seasons of 100+ RBIs. That is a track record of some consequence.

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      • BlackOps says:

        Casey, I hope I don’t need to explain to you that RBIz mean nothing, at all.

        And, as far as track record goes, there is no good consequence to a 4.0 WAR season when that one season comes along with 0.9, 0.4, and -1.0 seasons.

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      • Eric says:

        I’m going to give Casey the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant the 100 RBI seasons as a positive track record to the casual fan/media which make up probably 85%+ of the followers of baseball unfortunately.

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      • spindoctor says:

        Keep in mind he posted that when he had the best defensive season of his career. He’s had two straight negative UZR seasons and projects for a 3rd straight (though he’s slightly on the plus side right now). You take away plus defense and he’s, at best, a reserve or platoon player. He’s not going to do enough for you at the plate, in fact, he’ll likely cost you more than he ever gives you.

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      • CaseyB says:

        BlackOps … yes, you need to explain to me how RBIs mean “NOTHING AT ALL”

        The track record in this context has more to do with the fact a player has done it before for a full season vs. someone who hasn’t and that he is therefore capable of reproducing that production – not that this one year or two years are most representative of his entire career.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Eric, thanks, but I actually think a 100+ RBI season when you don’t play in an extreme hitters park or don’t play in a heavily stacked lineup is something of value. Would I use RBIs as a primary comparison for two players who have equal playing time? No. But to help assess someone’s career it is valid.

        But your point about the casual fan/media is well taken as most of them are stuck on old stats.

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    • Jon says:

      First off, Frenchy won’t be getting buried. He hits left handers-he starts against left-handers. Second, it is in no way shape or form counter-productive to bench Frenchy in favor of Pagan if the platoon works. Pagan is, overall, above and beyond a better player than Frenchy.

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      • CaseyB says:

        He would be getting buried if Pat Andriola had his way. His preference as stated was to bench Francoeur for good.

        I have no problem with a loose/flexible platton between Frenchy and Pagan, and I think that is what will happen for a good part of the remainder of the season. However, with Bay struggling, and Beltran’s endurance and health still in question, I can envision Manuel giving all 4 outfielders plenty of rest and divvying up the playing time almost equally. They will probably all benefit from that.

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      • spindoctor says:

        Bay isn’t having a strong season, but he’s only “struggling” in terms of meeting expectations. He’s actually not having all that bad of a season statistically (and no, I’m not talking about HR and RBI). He’s just not performing up to expectations.

        Francoeur, on the other hand, is at best league average, and that is propped up by the left-handed splits. He should, at best, but the short-side of a platoon with Pagan.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Francoeur has better situational stats than Bay which I think is important for a team that has had trouble scoring runs.

        Neither is having a great year and deserves not to sit once in awhile. I can see Pagan spelling both Francoeur and Bay against some righties.

        Bay does have a much better track record than Francoeur though, and so he has a better chance to have a hot 2nd half. On that basis, I would tend to play him more, but still give him forced rest here and there.

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      • spindoctor says:

        Frenchy

        hitting .254, .333, .338 w/ RISP
        hitting .179, .304, .231 w/ RISP & 2 outs
        hitting .217, .299, .367 w/ bases loaded

        Or are you pointing to the .600, .435, .867 w/ man on 3rd, less than 2 outs (all 15 at bats)?

        Bay

        hitting .237, .358, .408 w/ RISP (adv Bay)
        hitting .176, .317, .382 w/ RIP & 2 outs (adv Bay)
        hitting .143, .250, .143 w/ bases loaded (adv Frenchy)
        hitting .467, .522, .733 w/ man on 3rd, less than 2 outs (given limited sample, i’ll call it a wash)

        Sorry, I’m not buying what you’re selling when you don’t bother to do the research.

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      • CaseyB says:

        spin, but I’m not asking you to buy. And I did do my research. For situational stats, I put more emphasis on BA, especially for a team which has had trouble scoring runs. A hit is more likely to drive in a run, especially with the speed on the Mets.

        Fact is, Francoeur has the better BA with runners on, RISP, and bases loaded and it isn’t even close:

        Francoeur/Bay
        .275/.227 (runners on)
        .254/.237 (RISP)
        .250/.143 (Bases Loaded)

        Francoeur also is much better with a runner on third and less than 2 out (.600/.367). While a small sample size, it’s notable within the context of all the situational stats.

        I’ll call it a wash for RISP and two out.

        So, yes, I think Francoeur has been the better hitter this year in these situations. And it shows in his better production.

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      • spindoctor says:

        With Runners On is about the only one you can make a strong argument for, and that would be a fair argument.

        But overall, Bay has had a far better season and he’s been mediocre by his standards, while Francouer is exactly what he is.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Also, spin, your numbers for Francoeur are wrong. With the bases loaded, his line is .250/.286/.250. Talk about research!

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      • CaseyB says:

        If you want to call everything else a wash, that’s fine. But Francoeur has better numbers with runners on and also with the bases loaded as I think BA in situational stats is more important.

        And if Bay has had a better overall season, I’d say it’s only by a little. Is he a better player than Francoeur? Yes. But he hasn’t shown it thus far. Based on his first half, I wouldn’t hesitate to give him forced rest along with ALL the other fielders in a true rotating outfield. That is unless one or two players has a particularly hot stretch, and then I would have them playing almost every day.

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      • spindoctor says:

        Yes, I made an error on the one line of situational hitting stats. So sue me! ;) — That teaches me a lesson for stooping to such stats in a discussion ;)

        The fact that you are advocating sitting Bay for Frenchy at all ends this conversation.

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      • CaseyB says:

        spin, it’s fine to use stats. But don’t go criticizing someone else for failing “to do the research” based on your wrong assumptions (I had looked up the stats before I made my initial post about situational stats) and then failing to post your own research correctly.

        And yes, I’m advocating sitting Bay occasionally, along with the other three outfielders in a rotation. At least to start. Then whoever goes on a hot streak gets to play the most. If you don’t want to discuss this anymore that’s your problem, and I assume you realize your position is weak.

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    • B N says:

      “From many reports, he’s also a key factor in the better chemistry this year in the Mets clubhouse.”

      Well that works out great then. If they bench him more, just THINK about the extra time he’d have in the clubhouse helping build chemistry! The results could be amazing on (and especially off) the field!

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      • CaseyB says:

        Cute, but It doesn’t work that way. He wouldn’t have the same impact if buried on the bench.

        You probably sneeze at things like “team chemistry” but I don’t.

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      • B N says:

        If the difference between having him in a platoon (and playing 25% of the games) versus having him play a more equal share (around 50-60% of the games) is really the deciding difference in whatever chemistry he brings to the team, that would seem valid.

        But regardless of if chemistry is causal to wins, I see no reason why chemistry should be predicated on if a guy plays a quarter of the time or a half of the time. Plenty of aging veteran-leader types have spent half-seasons or more on the DL, but people still say they contribute to chemistry. The bulk of chemistry, whatever it is, could easily come from just having the personality in the clubhouse rather than playing every day. Otherwise starting pitchers could never build chemistry, no?

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      • CaseyB says:

        First of all, in a strict platoon, Francoeur would probably play about a third of the time. In a rotation, he would play roughly 75% of the time.

        You’re suggesting he should only be in a strict platoon right? And so you’re wondering how team chemistry could be adversely affected if a 26-year-old healthy player (NOT a veteran and not on the DL) is unhappy over seeing his playing time cut by 2/3′s and he was considered to be a key influencer in team chemistry? Wow. I don’t know if it will or it won’t be. But I can certainly see how it likely could be considering human nature.

        Also to compare Francouer and his situation to a veteran on the DL or to a starting pitcher is ridiculous. First of all, pitchers because of their occasional play are normally not viewed as leaders in the same way everyday players are. If you believe otherwise, name a few starters who were considered to be primary leaders of a team. I think it happens occasionally but it’s rare. Second, why would a veteran on the DL or a starter on their off days have any reason to be unhappy in terms of playing time? LOL. It’s not as if their playing time is cut back.

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      • CaseyB says:

        BTW, everyone normally contributes in a little way to team chemistry, good or bad — whether you are the ball boy or bullpen coach or a star everyday player. But not everyone is considered to be a key influencer in a team’s positive chemistry the way Francoeur is.

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      • eldingo says:

        I call bullshit for so many reason… what is chemistry? why does frenchy have it? Who gets to decide that he has it? Sure clubhouse chemistry may exist, but your telling me that you get to quantify it? It’s impossible to measure, therefore we disregard it. Public perception is not reality… and don’t try and pretend that it is.

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      • caseyB says:

        eldingo, I am not trying to quantify team chemistry for the Mets or any other team. I am simply taking at face value all the reports I’ve read that say the team chemistry on the Mets this year is so much better than in recent years and that Francoeur is a main reason for it.

        And no, “we” don’t disregard team chemistry. I know many sabermetricians probably do, but I can bet you that many GMs pay close attention to it. Just ask the Cubs whether team chemistry matters.

        I agree that team chemistry is almost impossible to quantify. And I don’t think it’s the main reason a team succeeds or fails. But I do believe in some situations it can be a key to a team’s winning or losing.

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  4. AJ says:

    “The Fourth Outfielder Fallacy” by Pat Andriola.

    Forward written by Juan Rivera.

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  5. Toz says:

    I have a great idea…let’s get all excited about Angel Pagan.

    I’m not going to stand here and tell you that Jeff Franceour is a better ballplayer than Angel Pagan. Pagan’s 8/60/23/.294 projected slash line is so significantly better than Franceour’s 18/86/11/.270 slash line that it is a grave injustice to have Franceour in the lineup. It is ridiculous to believe that Franceour will improve at all, given his very low LD%. At 26 years old, his career is likely over, and he should be relegated to the bench for Pagan, who at 29, is entering the prime of his part-timer career.

    Fourth outfielders are usually fourth outfielders because, when they are exposed to every day ABs, they tend not put up the same numbers that they put up in more limited ABs – there are certainly excpetions. Clearly, however, Franceour has wronged you in this life or a prior one.

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    • Everett says:

      You’re quoting the wrong stat line for this website. Just saying…

      The last time that Francoeur had a higher single-season wOBA than Pagan’s career wOBA was back in his rookie season of 2005. In 2007 he had a .337, and since then he’s had a .286, .313 and .321.Pagan has a career number of .341, was .358 last year, and is .357 this year. Add in that Pagan’s a better defender, and its a no-brainer. This really isn’t a difficult decision. Francoeur is personable, justifiably well-liked. That doesn’t mean he should be getting the lion’s share of the playing time.

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    • don says:

      Projected counting slash lines while ignoring the fact that Frenchy was projected to receive a lot more playing time, and ignore the total lack of plate discipline which has always been his greatest failing. Please tell me you’re deliberately trying to mislead.

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    • BlackOps says:

      I think these were the slash lines you were looking for:
      Pagan: .302/.363/.443
      Francoeur: .270/.320/.425

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  6. Toz says:

    One other thought – what the heck is this fourth outfielder fallacy? I think if we spend a little time going through the numbers, I am going to find significantly more data which favors the idea that fourth outfielders tend, as a general proposition, to be exactly that: fourth outfielders. Angel Pagan does not alone prove the hypothesis.

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    • Keller says:

      Toz is actually Jeff Francoeur.

      Now, on the subject on who is a better player- Jeff “Mediocre” Francoeur, or Angel “Better than Francoeur” Pagan?

      We can start with the defense- Pagan, according to both UZR and Rfield from B-R is a tremendous centerfielder. Francoeur, on the other hand is average-ish according to UZR, and is fairly good according to Rfield. There’s a catch- Frenchy plays a COF position, where even if he was excellent, the value is still lesser than that of an excellent CF. Advantage: Pagan, big time.

      How about offense? Besides power, Pagan outclasses Frenchy in nearly every category. A proud owner of a 101 OPS+, Francoeur is… average. Average at getting on base, average at hitting for average, power, everything. Pagan is fairly adept at getting on base, hits for a high average, steals bases at a good clip, and has pretty decent extra base power that is heightened by his ability to stretch singles into doubles, doubles into triples, etc.

      One more thing- 2.7 WAR > 1.2 WAR (from B-R)

      What I’m trying to get at is that you’re wrong in nearly every baseball related sense of the word.

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  7. LetsGoMutz says:

    The NY Media think all the Mets and Yank players are either HOFs locks or Future HOF locks.

    They were talking the other day on the FAN about the mets trading Pagan + PTBNL for Lee and thought that was a good trade, gotta do that trade. then after 20 minutes of saying how it would be ashame to lose such a good player like Pagan they said, “where will he play for the Ms?” not in CF, not in RF, shouldn’t play in LF for a young guy like suanders… I guess he’ll be their super 4th OF

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  8. dave says:

    I don’t know that a whole lot has come from the Mets front office or from Manual to substantiate any claims about what they’re going to do with Pagan. All I’ve heard is a whole lot of “we’ll cross that bridge when get to it” kind of statements. The rest is all media speculation, and everyone knows that local media never, ever back the guy whose homespun country fried quotes makes their jobs easier over the better player. That never happens. They never questioned Jose Reyes’ heart/guts/grission while giving a pass to Country Time’s wretchedness/dead arm during the collapse. Any insinuation of such is irresponsible.

    There is little doubt that Frenchy should be benched (or at least platooned) for Pagan based on their play. I don’t even think Omar and Jerry are *that* blind. Yet, you can’t just dismiss the delicate politics at play here for the front office. Even if the Mets were planning to bench Frenchy outright, they’d be fools to give any inkling of that to a local media that lovingly strokes his grissiony beard and bathes in the soft white light of his toothy grin.

    I think the Mets are playing this about the way you have to play it. Beltran “keeps” the position he lost to injury. Pagan did not begin as a starter, so need to announce him as one at this point. They haven’t said word the first about Frenchy, which I think (for once) is the wise play.

    My suspicion is that, assuming Beltran returns and is able to even play CF — an enormous assumption — the Mets will start out playing what looks like a platoon. Pagan will probably get double-switched into a fair number of his non-starts and he’ll start over Beltran, who will need significant days off.

    I think what it’ll come down to is that Pagan will start against right-handed pitchers regardless of who else plays. So, he’ll be on the field most nights. Against lefties he may sit for Frenchy. OR, they may sit Beltran on the rare nights the Mets see lefties, putting Pagan in CF and leaving Frenchy in right. Pagan will look like a super sub, but will get the vast majority of ABs in RF. The only other probable outcome is one where Beltran demonstrates that he just cannot take the wear and tear of CF every night, and Frenchy gets ABs at the expense of Beltran.

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    • wobatus says:

      This makes frenchy kinda the Kurt Rambis of the Mets.

      I agree that Pagan should be utilized as you describe.

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  9. Joe R says:

    There’s one thing that Pagan has going for him over Francouer, though.
    Frenchie is white, Pagan is not, Jerry Manuel is the manager.

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  10. Zack says:

    “Francoeur is on pace to hit around .265 with a .320 OBP, 16 HR and 85 RBI this season. …that’s good, don’t get me wrong,”

    Wait, THAT is good? really?

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    • CaseyB says:

      I would call that pretty good/fair considering Citi is playing like an extreme pitchers park this year.

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      • Rich says:

        That makes Pagan’s .806 OPS even more impressive then.

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      • CaseyB says:

        I agree about Pagan. But as I said, I wouldn’t make the decision based solely on the first 3 months.

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      • spindoctor says:

        If we play the park factor game, a home field that is currently down on HR, up on triples and up on walks….who would you rather have at the plate and in the field ;)

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      • CaseyB says:

        It depends on who’s pitching and what stadium they are playing in. ;)

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      • KG says:

        The decision is not based on three months, but also includes last year, when Pagan was clearly the superior player.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Actually, I think the decision (Manuel’s/Omar’s) is based on even a longer time period — the longer track record that I mentioned in previous posts that goes back to at least 2007.

        As for last year with the Mets, Pagan and Francoeur had essentially the same OPS+ — 121 vs. 120.

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      • spindoctor says:

        lol Casey, way to cherry pick only half of a guys season (the better half of course) and leave the barren wasteland that he was in the first half out of the equation ;)

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      • CaseyB says:

        Well, spin, you do realize Francouer was considered by many to be a classic change-of-scenery case. That’s what was actually said by the FO as the reason for trading for him. If in fact he was putting too much pressures on himself in Atlanta OR was not getting the right coaching, then why wouldn’t you just take his stats from the time he was with the Mets when they clearly improved?

        I’m not just looking at his 2009 stats with the Mets because they are better, but because they marked a turning point in the season when he went to a totally new environment. If that were not the case, I wouldn’t have done it.

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      • eldingo says:

        change of scenery is greek for this guy is terrible lets get rid of him

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      No, it’s actually bad. Very bad for a right fielder with blah defense. Cerrone is wrong there.

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  11. james says:

    Let me guess, Pat, philosophy major?

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    • Pat Andriola says:

      History! But I’m President of my school’s debate team and a philosophy junkie in general, so pretty much.

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  12. Monty says:

    I overall agree with the point in this article. I have the same bias in video games. In my franchise in MLB 10 the Show Crawford, Gardener and Granderson and I didn’t want to put Gardener at RF. I wanted to have Swisher, Winn or move Montero there.

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  13. Go Rays! says:

    The Rays could find a place for Pagan. How about trading B. J. Upton for Pagan straight up, then the Mets could have a legitimate defensive 4th outfielder, and the Rays could have a legitimate offensive centerfielder, and the stars would re-align, and the NY press could have fodder for 1,000 articles putting B.J.’s play under the microscope next to Francoeur’s true-grit. Thing of beauty…

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  14. Larry says:

    I think Francoeur has nothing to worry about until he absolutely craters. God forbid Mets fan calling for Jerry Manuel’s head if Francoeur’s playing time is reduced.

    I think Mets fans nearly called for Manuel’s head because apparently he had a ‘grudge’ against one-time New York superstar Ryan Church.

    Pagan has been ‘championed’ as a player who needs to play everyday, but the fact he hasn’t been used as an every day player as far as a guy getting 500 at-bats is indicative of what his fate will be once Beltran comes back.

    I do assume Beltran will get himself nicked up again, so Pagan will likely have to bide his time until that happens, while being the fourth outfielder.

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  15. awayish says:

    trying to discuss the mets from a sabr angle is pointless. they’ll never listen to any of this stuff, so why bother.

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