Over the last few days we’ve taken a look at some of the biggest risers and fallers from 2009 to this season in terms of WAR. Today we’ll check out four players who could have made one of the respective lists but weren’t included.
OF Andres Torres
2009 WAR: 2.0
2010 WAR: 5.7
I was initially reluctant to include Torres because his wOBA has actually dropped from last season and he was on pace for 4 WAR over 150 games in ’09. However, the small sample size last year gave light to critics doubting if the former Puerto Rican track star could ever truly break out over a full season at age thirty-two and with literally no major league success before 2009. Well, Torres has certainly proven the doubters wrong with a fantastic 2010 in which he’s produced 5.7 WAR for the Giants, thanks to a .377 wOBA and an extraordinary defensive effort; UZR says he’s saved 18.1 runs this year while DRS has him at 12. Torres never really knew how to hit upon being drafted in the fourth round out of community college in 1998, but once he tuned his mechanics he was able to utilize his bat speed and began to smack line drives.
1B Daric Barton
2009 WAR: 0.8
2010 WAR: 3.9
Daric Barton was young coming into the 2010 season at just twenty-four, but there were still many who were doubting if he’d ever put it all together. After the former top prospect burst onto the scene in 2007 with the A’s at twenty-one and put up a .452 wOBA in eighty-four plate appearances, people were ready for more. However, the big lefty couldn’t produce similarly the next few years, putting up a .302 wOBA in 140 games in 2008 and a more respectable .343 last year in fifty-four games. Thankfully for A’s fans, Barton’s increased patience has made up for his relative lack of power this year; he’s hitting .284/.401/.419 thanks to a 15.8 BB% despite a rather poor .135 ISO. Still, his defense at first base has been solid (UZR says 6.1 runs saved) and his eye at the dish is outstanding. With his peak years ahead, Barton’s power may develop more and he could become Jason Giambi Lite. Now if he’d only stop bunting…
OF Franklin Gutierrez
2009 WAR: 6.1
2010 WAR: 2.2
After Franklin Gutierrez‘s remarkable 2009, fans were excited to see what the former throw-in from a three-way trade would do this season. Last year, Guti was solid at the bat and outstanding in the field. His .337 wOBA (108 wRC+) was driven by a .425 SLG (not too bad for a center fielder) and a .333 BABIP. He was also insanely clutch last year and had a 3.72 WPA. However, it was his defense that gave him the big value. UZR liked him for 31 runs above replacement. Yup, make him a league-average fielder and his value drops over 50% to just 3 WAR. Still, UZR wasn’t alone; DRS said he was even better, at 32 runs saved, and Total Zone liked him for 27 runs. It was truly an incredible year for Guti.
Sadly, the tide has turned in 2010. At twenty-seven, Gutierrez should be approaching his peak offensively, but his wOBA has dropped to a measly .304 this year as he’s caught whatever offensive-thwarting bug has gone around the Seattle clubhouse. Despite increasing his walk rate a percentage point (7.3% to 8.3%), his .304 BABIP has produced a .251/.311/.367 slash line, nothing to write home about. Finally, the glove hasn’t played like it did last year. UZR still thinks he’s been good for 7.5 runs, while DRS is even more bullish with 16 runs, but it hasn’t been enough to replicate, or even approach, his 2009 WAR.
OF Nyjer Morgan
2009 WAR: 4.9
2010 WAR: 0.3
I think we’ve heard this story before. Center fielder has a career offensive and defensive season which drives his value up crazy, but then regresses significantly the following year because of a much lower BABIP and worse defense. Nyjer Morgan (aka DJ Nij-Nnn-Nnn-Nnn-Nice) had a fantastic 2009 both at the plate and in the field. Morgan, who split time between Pittsburgh and Washington, hit .307/.369/.388, good for a .340 wOBA (108 wRC+). However, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Morgan had put up a .340 wOBA in 2007 and a .320 wOBA in 2008. Still, the consistent offense over a full season was surprising. What was more surprising was his defense, as Morgan saved 27.6 runs according to UZR (DRS said 15 while Total Zone said just 9).
In 2010, everything has fallen apart for Morgan. He has a .288 wOBA thanks to a .257/.317/.318 line, has a negative UZR, and is getting clotheslined by big first basemen. ZiPS still likes him for a .305 wOBA the rest of the way, but Morgan is not the solid everyday center fielder many thought he could turn out to be.
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