Mets Add Harris

Sandy Alderson appears to have found his fourth outfielder. On Friday, the Mets agreed to a minor league contract with Willie Harris, who played his last two season with the Washington Nationals. Although Harris struggled mightily in 2010, he should be a solid backup to Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Angel Pagan next season.

After posting 4.2 WAR in 2008-2009, Harris’s bat imploded in 2010. Largely due to a .199 BABIP, Harris managed only a triple-slash line of .183/.291/.362 (.284 wOBA, 82 wrC+). Although this BABIP collapse was accompanied by a distressing increase in strikeout rate (from 19.2% to 26.8%), there’s reason to believe that Harris can work his way back up to respectability, if not the .340 wOBAs he posted in 2008 and 2009.

Throughout his career, Harris has been able to reach base at a decent rate. Harris carries a 10.7% career walk rate and a .327 career OBP into this season, and both of those numbers have been better over the past four seasons. In 2008, Harris saw an increase in power to go along with hit on-base skills. He hit 13 home runs to go along with 14 doubles and four triples that year; 2009 saw more of the same, with only 7 home runs but 18 doubles and seven triples, and both seasons saw fewer than 425 plate appearances. Even with Harris’s poor overall performance last season, these two aspects of his game remained largely intact. He still walked in 13% of plate appearances and hit 10 homers, six doubles, and two triples in only 262 plate appearances.

Harris is a relatively low-BABIP hitter over the course of his career – .281 in 1655 balls in play – but there’s no reason to believe that he will be this bad again. He should be able to recover to something resembling productivity. ZiPS projects a .224/.326/.378 line, which reflects the problems his increased strikeout rate could present but also his solid on-base and power skills. Unfortunately, Harris’s defense suffered when moved out of the corner positions. Harris is a good enough defender to work as a fourth outfielder given his bat, particularly if he can show in Spring Training that his 2010 was an aberration. On a non-guaranteed minor league deal, that’s exactly what the Mets need. Harris is a perfect low-risk medium-upside signing that should help the Mets get through this transition year as Alderson and company steer this franchise out of the ditch Omar Minaya drove it into.

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12 Responses to “Mets Add Harris”

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  1. Brian Kelly says:

    Perhaps the uncharacteristc 2010 K rate is product of the low BABIP. It was somewhat high at the outset but really seems to jack up after two months of not seeing much time on the basepaths. It could reflect either him pressing or a different approach at the plate (which perhaps at first was seen to be rewarded with the unsustainable July BABIP). Obviously neither approach worked last year but it would not seem to be the sort of thing to carry over with some refocusing during Spring Training.

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  2. pdowdy83 says:

    That and the guy has just killed the Mets the last 2 years in the field. He has 2 game ending diving catches against them that saved runners from scoring.

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  3. supermets says:

    The Mets also just signed Scott Hairston. Two good signings to compete for the 4th OF spot.

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  4. Robert Thacher says:

    I feel bad for Mets fans for having that pompous longwinded cheapo,Sandy Aldersen as your GM. You will see no more impact F A signings as this guy doesn’t use that part of the rules. No more Bay, Santana,Rodriguez,Beltran. Not all these players have panned out, but they are quality players and you need those if you expect to win.Bay is a fine player and should return to form. Santana has done a decent job.Rodriguez too.Beltran may finnally be healthy.This guy has done nothing to improve your team.Your fear should be that he will sell off the remaining good players you have for prospects.You will be wishing you had Omar again.

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    • In baseball, “cheapo” is an epithet usually reserved for ownership, and with reason.

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    • BlackOps says:

      Solid insight, but I think I’ll trust a guy who has been through this for a long time before I trust someone who has that many issues with their space bar. Yeesh.

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    • phoenix says:

      unfortunately, the mets are overloaded with big contracts, so they don’t have the financial flexibility to make a big FA signing. also, many of their big contracts under minaya imploded, so they may be trying to stay away from making the same mistakes. but most of the reason why you won’t see another bay or rodriguez or santana or beltran is that the mets simply don’t have 15-20mil left in their budget.

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      • Robert58 says:

        That is a myth.There no bigger market. You have a brand new stadium and more money then any of us realize. I’m fairly certain the Mets cashed a luxury tax chk from MLB?. Next year, Beltran and Frankie will be gone.Betcha that money will not go back to payroll. You will be in a rebuilding mode forever.

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      • SF 55 for life says:

        Should I even bother?

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    • wobatus says:

      I think it is wise to try to make small improvements to try to compete this year, but save up for more impact players down the line once some other contracts (such as Frankie Rodriguez’s) expire and being in the thick of things is a tad more realistic. Beating the Phils this year looks, uh, tough, and even wildcard is a stretch.

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  5. Nightrider says:

    a mediocre player at best. mets are spinning their wheels in the cellar.
    beltran, pagan, reyes ain’t gonna bring the mets anything except
    more disappointment

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