The Problem with Oakland

With large market teams represented fourfold in the league championship series, some have seen fit to reminiscence and kick dirt on the dead horse known as Moneyball. A tired topic, to be sure, it is one that deserves more attention to detail and logic than offered elsewhere. The question that must be answered is whether Billy Beane’s player evaluation methods have failed him and his organization.

Yes, when it comes to amateur talent.

In the famed Moneyball draft of 2002, Beane selected 15 of the first 300 players in the draft, nine of whom have since reached the majors. This includes Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, Mark Teahen, John Baker, and Jared Burton. In the 2003 draft Beane selected 11 of the first 300 players and only two – Omar Quintanilla and Andre Ethier – reached the majors; neither played large roles with the Athletics and were instead used to acquire Milton Bradley and the deceased Joe Kennedy. Beane once more had 13 of the top 300 picks in 2004 and while a handful reached the majors only Huston Street and Kurt Suzuki are worth writing home about. The year 2005 saw Cliff Pennington, Travis Buck and Vin Mazzaro taken, and in 2006, the A’s tabbed Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey. That’s roughly five at-least major league average talents in 2002 and roughly eight in the four drafts thereafter.*

The lack of impact talent extends beyond (and in large part) because of the prospect classes. Drafting and expecting a handful to routinely turn into average players is unrealistic. This is why teams complement draft classes with international talent and trades.

Even if the A’s did draft well immediately after Moneyball was published, you would be hard-pressed to find major league results. Using Baseball America’s top 10 lists from 2004-2007**, I compared the amount of players on said lists that remained within the organization to start the 2009 season against two other small market teams: the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays. The results are replicated at the end of this post. The Rockies have an extraordinarily high retention rate*** of 72.5% while the Rays/A’s are equal with 42.5%. Keep in mind that, unlike the Athletics, the Rays (a) turned Delmon Young into Matt Garza and (b) were horrible from 2004-2007 for many reasons.

Teams with limited cash resources must be able to develop some of their amateur players into stars. Signing undervalued talents is smart and useful, but relying upon undervalued players for superstar contributions is an impossible feat. The A’s farm system produced the stars of those early 2000**** teams and Beane did an excellent job at supplementing the talents. Whether the new blood is lacking due to poor luck, bad drafting, or awful development in the minors is anyone’s guess and probably a combination of three.

Consider this: the A’s had six players finish with more than 4 WAR in 2002; 4 players in 2003; 4 players in 2004; 3 in 2005; and 3 in the four seasons since. Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby succumbed to constant injury, a few free agent and trade acquisitions didn’t work out, and some players have gotten extremely close (like Ryan Sweeney this season), but the A’s have still been without consistent star talent for too long. This is why the A’s averaged 94.5 wins from 2002 to 2005 and only 79.8 wins since 2006.

*No, it’s not fair to expect that same hit rate moving forward. For reference though, here are the percentages of players drafted (not necessarily signed) who reached the majors at some point in their career; 2000 13%; 2001 21%; 2002 21%; 2003 4%; 2004 25%; 2005 12%; 2006 5%.
**The 2004 list is the starting point so the first post-Moneyball draft class would be eligible for inclusion. 2007 is the last list for the same reason, only the 2006 draft class.
***Survivor bias exists.
****Again, just for reference. Eric Chavez was drafted in the first round; Miguel Tejada signed as an amateur international free agent; Jason Giambi drafted in the second round; Mark Mulder drafted in the first round; Jason Isringhausen in a reliever trade-off; Tim Hudson drafted in the sixth round; Barry Zito drafted in the first round; Johnny Damon in a three-way trade; Jermaine Dye via trade; Chad Bradford via trade; Jim Mecir via trade; and of course the venerable John Mabry via trade.

The prospect list results, as promised:


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43 Responses to “The Problem with Oakland”

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  1. Nick says:

    And Ynoa already has elbow trouble.

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  2. Matt B. says:

    Love the colour coded draft chart! Good read, as always…

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  3. Dan says:

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned was because of Oakland’s success in the early/mid 90s, they did not have picks in the first half of the first round. Those picks are much more likely to develop into stars compared to those drafted in the 2nd half of the first round…

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    • Matt B. says:

      Not sure I agree with that statement, maybe in other sports it would apply but in baseball signability has as much to do with who goes in the first/second half of the 1st round than true talent most of the time.

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      • Sky Kalkman says:

        Early picks are awesome. They might drop a few spots, but you don’t have half the studs drop to the second half of the first round.

        In case that image doesn’t work, try this:

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      • Dan says:

        I’m not an expert here – but I think the signability issue has become much more of an issue in the past few years.

        considering oakland’s salary limitations, they would still have problems signing “signability” when compared to the yanks and red sox (tho oakland have had a few recently).

        if we were to look at a salary spent on first two round picks in the mid 2000s, i would persume that oakland is low on the list.

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      • Matt B. says:

        Agreed with you there Dan, the money is more of an issue than position.

        How else do we explain the Yanks/Red Sox extremely deep farm systems loaded with ‘A’ level prospects? They get to flex their muscles more on draft day also.

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  4. Nate says:

    One of the things that has “killed Moneyball” that wasn’t mentioned here and was conveniently left out of the Bissinger article that was linked was the Boston Red Sox (and by that, I really mean that other teams, including teams with money started employing the same strategies of evaluating players). One of the common misunderstandings of the book is that its about OBP, college pitchers, etc, when really its about market inefficiencies. Once most teams recognize the inefficiencies, well, its no longer an inefficiency. So Moneyball may have died in the sense that the Beane & the A’s no longer have advantages of evaluating players, but since most teams have significantly altered the way they evaluate players based on what sabermetrics has done, it’s pretty absurd to go calling it dead. Perhaps we can blame Michael Lewis for letting everyone else know what the A’s were doing (laugh).

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    • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

      Yeah, Billy Beane really sold out by writing that book for the publicity and $$$

      /Joe Morganed

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    • MFG says:

      Bingo. If there should be any criticism of the Beane/Moneyball episode, it’s that Beane let the world in on what was going on. Drafting Brown in the first round was pure ego. If you know you can get him later in the draft, or as an undrafted FA, don’t tip your hand about how you are trying to exploit the market’s inefficiencies. And, for chrissakes, don’t let an author publish a book about it. Sure the Theos of the industry would know it, but why give the Cashmans of the industry any more reason to tell NYY ownership to change their ways?

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        Drafting Brown in the first round was an effort to save money, based on the fact that your uber-parsimonious owner has given you far too few dollars to actually pick the best player available. If you know you can only afford a third-round talent anyway, you might as well draft the third-round talent that you actually like the most.

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      • dan woytek says:

        Two things.
        First, I have seen interviews with Beane where he states that honestly didn’t think anyone was gonna care about the book or the methods involved.

        Secondly, as it relates to Cashman, if you look at the rosters of those World Series winners, they were filled with guys who took walks, jacked dongers, elevated pitch counts and the like. Guys from their system might I add. They weren’t all Sorianos.

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  5. MMfan09 says:

    Considering the draft is a crap shoot and risky at times, isnt the common assumption that if a draft yields 2 solid mlb players, that its considered a good draft. Cant deny A’s have had their share of additonal/comp picks in terms of quantity, but before the last 2 yrs their highest picks was #15 overall in 2002 (damon comp pick from red sox to draft swisher). Even when theyve been struggling the last several yrs, they still picked 26, 12, and 13…They drafted simmons, weeks, and green. unfortunately not top tier pick territory. Next yr pick 10/11 again. Theyve shown the last 2 yrs to go above slot, so that helps some.

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  6. JD says:

    I’m a little bothered by something here. It’s implied more than once that the A’s have, in all these years, had a crazy number of draft picks. A phrase like “Beane once more had 13 of the top 300 picks in 2004” makes it sound like every other team had 5 picks or something. 300 picks means the average team should have 10. So they have a couple extra. Is that really significant?

    Also, to do this sort of analysis, don’t you HAVE to compare the A’s drafting to the drafting of other teams? Not two other teams, but ALL other teams? Is their percentage of getting players to the majors (or developing average players or whatever) lower than most?

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    • nevermoor says:

      Yes, you do have to. This is shoddy work, especially because studies have been done, and the A’s consistently rank among the top few teams in the league.

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      • Todd says:

        Par exemple:

        Also, does anyone else actually find it rather impressive that the A’s still have three players above the 4 WAR mark just 1.5 years after trading away Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, and Rich Harden?

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      • BobbyMac says:

        From the article: “The data is also limited to those players drafted in 2001 or earlier, since more recently drafted players have not had a chance to come up and show their full value.” – Not germane to the points being made in this article.

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  7. Paul Thomas says:

    Really. So, the A’s haven’t done a good job of getting superstars out of their farm system. Gosh, I guess it really WOULD have been a better idea to consistently suck pond water every bloody season so they could draft B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.

    Draft pick values are not linear. Picking first overall is probably worth more than every single pick in the supplemental round combined; if not, it’s close to it. The Rockies weren’t quite so consistently terrible– the highest they managed to pick was second– but at least they managed to pick in the protected picks for eight years in a row or so.

    Beane was handed a bunch of quantity draft picks without potential for a ton of quality. And they produced… a bunch of quantity players without a ton of quality. Shocking. Someone call up Mr. Ripley.

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    • Jeremy B. says:

      Not to mention that Oakland didn’t even have a first round pick in the 2006 draft where Longoria went 3rd behind Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds, and Lincecum went 10th.

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      • JD says:

        And they won’t have a second round pick this year because of the baffling, inexcusable decision to sign a clearly almost-finished Orlando Cabrera.

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  8. This gets back to what I’ve been saying since I published my study on the draft,, that what is also important is the distribution of good players vs. average and marginal players.

    Most teams start drafting “badly” right around the time they start being playoff competitive and not picking in the top 5-10 pick overall. That’s because, according to my calcuations, you had around a 40-45% chance of finding a good player with a Top 5 pick, but that slides down to a 10-11% chance when you are a playoff contender and picking in the 21-30 pick overall range.

    For example, in his article on June 3rd, he’s looking at only 10 years of draft data and then uses average WAR to compare. All you need is one nice outlier, like Stephan Drew or better, Lance Berkman, to boost one pick above the other.

    You need to see what the frequency is for finding a player (however you define it) who is actually good to get a better feel for why a team like the A’s are suddenly inept with the draft. Once you get to the 21-30 picks, only 11% chance, picks 31-90, 4% chance, 91-100, 1.5% chance.

    So you could have a whole bunch of the first 300 picks and still not total enough chances across all the picks to add up to a 25% chance of finding a good player or that much of a chance of finding a solid average major leaguer. The vast majority, once you get past the 5th pick, are not the good (sometimes star) players people would hope a team could develop. If you are lucky, you get an average major leaguer, but most end up marginal or never even making the majors for more than a cup of coffee.

    This is what people have not been understanding about the draft, it is very hard to find anyone good via the draft, and this is masked by the fact that it often takes 3-5 (or more) years for the players to develop into a major leaguer.

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  9. JK says:

    This is a really bad article. It just takes a bunch of numbers about drafts and attempts to correlate them to the A’s poor record the last three years, without discussing what the A’s were actually intending on doing during that period (which was to trade for the future, and then perhaps play for this year). As stated before in this thread, all draft picks are most definitely not equal, and the A’s haven’t had a top ten draft pick in maybe 20 years (I can’t recall the last one), and have only had picks in the 10-20 range the last two years. And why compare to just colorado and tb, who have been able to repeatedly pick in the top 10 to get the high ceiling players? Why eliminate a team like Pitt, who has significantly worse drafts despite its consistent top 5-top 10 draft slot? And why just use the BA top ten only? What about an objective indicator as to how the players actually did (like Andrew Bailey, who never was on the BA top ten list)?

    The A’s have drafted well over the years given their position. They have traded some (all?) of their higher impact draftees from a couple years ago (like Ethier, Swisher, Blanton, Street) with mixed results thus far, but the last three trades could definitely end up in the A’s favor. You can fault them for trading these guys too early, fault them for ignoring the international market for years, and fault them for poor free agent signings, but I can’t see how you can fault them for poor drafting.

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  10. PL says:

    “Keep in mind that, unlike the Athletics, the Rays (a) turned Delmon Young into Matt Garza”

    And Beane turned Nick Swisher (Value in 08-09: $21.1) into Ryan Sweeney (Value in 08-09: $25.5) as well as Gio Gonzalez (Oliver Perez 2.0 for better or worse, value $5.2 in 09) and Fautino DeLosSantos (injured with high ceiling SP).

    Swisher is also a strange case because Beane had absolutely no intention of ever trading, he was asked about him by KW and then picked 3 players with such extremely high ceilings, he expected KW to laugh him out of the building, but instead, because KW is very stupid, said “deal”. Swisher was never part of the original rebuilding process, KW forced Beane’s hand.

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    • scott says:


      First, lets start with the easy one; Faustino de los Santos is a virtual unknown right now. He just had major elbow surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch above High A and is already 23. Given he’ll be 24 next year and will likely start the year in single A, the upside he once had has diminished considerably.

      Gio Gonzalez has had a 5+ bb/9 in over 300 innings for the A’s. He’s a two pitch pitcher that was worth 1.2 WAR this year. Is that worth *something?* Of course. But you can’t hack it in the majors with a walk rate over five.

      Sweeney’s value the last two years is tied entirely to his glove, and if we use UZR – a stat that admittedly carries a lot of noise without a firm sample size – that value decreases a bit. His numbers in right look great (25.4 UZR/150 in over 1100 innings) but notice the other two OF positions;

      2008 CF – 362 innings -22.8 UZR/150
      2009 CF – 452 innings 13.7 UZR/150

      2008 LF – 43 innings -34.9 UZR/150
      2009 LF – 44 innings 56.9 UZR/150

      Those are some pretty glaring differences. I find it hard to believe he was Brad Hawpe in 2008 and Franklin Gutierrez in 2009. I trust he’s somewhere in between, but he’s not going to be worth $17mil in 2010. Perhaps more importantly, if you’re willing to settle for 11 HRs in over 950 PAs from a corner outfielder that does nothing else particularly well (offensively), you’re insane.

      Garza has been 6.4 WAR player in his time on the Rays and Delmon Young has ostensibly cost the Twins over $7.0mil, being worth -1.6 WAR. These are hardly comparable situations.

      Kenny Williams was an idiot for trying to make Swisher a CF and selling him to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar, but he was hardly an idiot for sending a bunch of boring “prospects” to the A’s for a cheap, cost-controlled, 3+WAR/year player.

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      • Cam says:

        “Boring prospects”

        Both GIo and Sweeney are in their age 24 seasons. So there is some upside there despite liking to point out their weaknesses.

        Gio was on the prospect radar for awhile as we know leading the minors in K’s a couple yrs ago and even ranked a top 25 prospect by milb.

        Sox gave up on sweeney despite their aggressive promotions with him as a 20/21 yr old in AAA. He supposedly “stalled”as a prospect for 2 seasons in AAA. He was so boring that BA ranked him #1 in their system in 07. Sweeney put up a league avg OPS the last 2 seasons. Not great, but he’s exceeded his “throw in” trade exectations for the deal at the time.Sweeney also showed progress the last several months and has proven to hit much better on the road

        Be cautious about DLS injury, but he ranked with the best pure stuff in the same rotation as cahill and anderson

        Do all these players have issues..sure. But considering white sox dumped swisher after 1 season and turned him into marquez, betemit, nunez, etc Plus later spending that money on rios seems like a curious move on their part

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      • scott says:

        Like I said, a corner outfielder with a ton of noise in his UZR numbers that’s posted 11 HRs in over 950 PAs? Sweeney was hailed for years as the super-athlete that will develop power. That power still hasn’t showed up and it’s highly unlikely it’ll show up in the future. I’m missing what’s to like outside of a defensive replacement in RF and a pinch runner with mediocre speed. Talk about OPS and BA rankings all you want; the power numbers have never shown up, and the White Sox farm system at that time was one of the worst in the majors.

        Yes, Gio was on the prospect radar for awhile, and as Kevin Goldstein said, a RHP who used his lollypop curve to post huge strikeout numbers in the minors but has a very small frame with avg velocity. He’s a 24 year old two-pitch pitcher that’s had marginal success at the major league level, showing very little improvement with his control. He’s posted walk rates above 4.5 the last two years in AAA.

        And I quote myself:

        “Kenny Williams was an idiot for trying to make Swiser and CF and selling him to the Yankees for pennies on teh dollar, but he was hardly an idiot for sending a bunch of boring prospects to the A’s for a cheap, cost-controlled, 3+WAR/year player.”

        I already conceded that point. The Rios deal has little to nothing to do with this.

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  11. Sam says:

    What a terrible article. A scattershot methodology of poorly thought out measures combined with comparisons to cherrypicked teams is a recipe for disaster. Given all the research that’s been published on expected return for specific draft slots, this “analysis” reads like a comment on an ESPN message board.

    There are many things to criticize the A’s front office for over the last 5 years, but drafting/developing is not at the top of the list. If you want to find the primary reason for the A’s struggling from 2007-2009, the answer is easily found in their poor expenditures on (relatively) big money acquisitions. Over those years, their highest paid players have returned below-replacement production (and a ton of injury time).

    Comparing a team’s recent draft returns against those of the Rays without even mentioning draft position suggests either incompetence or hackery, neither of which reflects well on Fangraphs.

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    • MMfan009 says:

      Or more likely, their false hope in crosby, chavez, harden, etc. Those 3 stooges IMO are the biggest reasons why they werent able to sustain their early 2000s run.

      Harden at the time was supposed to be the NL version of peavy back in 2003 when he came up. At one point, he was the best sp prospect in baseball. His teammates in AAA were harang and duchscherer. They traded away harang for renting jose guillen because Jermaine dye was injured.

      Harden between 2006-2008 made as many starts 30+ as he did in 2009.

      They were committed to crosby and opted not to pay Scutaro 1-2mill as a backup.

      They did not make 3b a draft priority for the last 3+ yrs. They had before in the minors hinske, teahen (both traded for short term closers koch/dotel) and a draft bust in brian snyder. So poor planning on their part to not have replacements for chavez.

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      • Wally says:


        But do you have any good reason to think Chavez, Harden or Crosby were going to be such big busts before they started getting injured? Not many teams could with stand seeing their franchise player and best young players crumble to injuries, no matter how well they draft.

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  12. Cam says:


    I’m assuming you werent watching the last 3-4 months of sweeney who showed improvements as a hitter. Calling him a defensive replacement and pinch runner and ignoring the fact he was still a league avg hitter as far as OPS+. For comparison, ellsbury was below league avg hitting for OPS + and has hit 17 hr in in his 1st full 2 seasons in almost 1300ab’s. Why cant sweeney still be a useful hitter, it isnt all about HR power. Plus they can always shift him back to CF (which he was still above avg) if and when rajai davis cools down. Also the A’s ballpark will suppress offense no matter what. He proved to hit a ton on the road which is a good sign at least.

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    • MFG says:

      R. Sweeney, upon returning from DL on 6/18/2009:

      319 PA, 95 H, 23 2B, 4 HR, 39K-21BB, .324/.371/.464.

      Pretty good for a 24 year old with fine defensive skills.

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      • scott says:

        Because his defensive numbers, outside of RF, scream SSS. Going from a -20 player to nearly +20, in the same amount of innings, from one year to the next? When the statistic has been shown to create a lot of noise from year to year when dealing with small samples, why *should* I believe that he has fine defensive skills when his CF-bat hasn’t even totaled more than 800 innings at the position? One would have to assume that he maintains a +20 UZR/150 in CF just for his bat to play. I understand a good bat is a good bat, but he’s a literal league average bat with a barely .100 ISO, likely at a corner OF position. Ellsbury pops just as many HRs a year and steals 70 bases at an 85% clip.

        You say he was above average in CF in 2009, I say he was below average in 2008, with nearly the same number of innings. I never said he was a bad defender. In fact, I said he was probably somewhere in between those numbers, which is a decent defender at any OF position. But a corner outfielder with exactly a league avg wOBA just doesn’t do anything for me. If you want to argue that this had anything to do with the Rios trade, I’d almost prefer that given that he’s shown a) power b) speed and c) a track record of being a top five defensive outfielder.

        Also, just for fun, career VS. LHP – .244/.315/.310. Bad.

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  13. Cam says:

    Well his career consists of 2 seasons both of which was his age 23/24 seasons. So basically you dont see room for improvement, is that what you are saying? Like i said, he showed improvment the last 3-4 months

    Just for fun, sweeney improved his OPS by 200 points vs lefties in 09 compared to 08.

    Andre Ethier is a .194/,629 vs lefties does that diminish his talent?

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    • scott says:

      I don’t think Sweeney can’t improve…of course he can. But he was mired in the White Sox minor league system, flashing no power, showing little improvement and essentially lost his prospect status. You have to admit it’s difficult to not reach double digit home run totals in 400+ PAs/year and be considered a major league corner OF.

      I was never a fan of Ethier in the first place, but yes, his inability to improve vs. LHP is a problem. His career numbers vs LHP are better, though. For example, the Phillies were playing Polanco over Utley early in Utley’s career because he couldn’t handle LHP. He improved and is now one of the best players in all of baseball. Or Jayson Werth; once a lefty masher, now one of the most valuable OFs in baseball. If Ethier could improve hitting LHP, wouldn’t that make him one of the more dangerous outfielders in the game? Of course. Same goes for Curtis Granderson, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Howard, etc.

      If you are using half-a-season OPS as a basis for improvement, I think you’re on the wrong website. PL made the argument that Sweeney has been “worth $22mil while on the A’s.” I pointed out that that value – most of which comes from this year and his absurd UZR numbers – has a whole lot of noise. That’s a given. Sweeney can improve, but I’m not going to look at half a season of numbers and say he’s turned a corner from becoming a 4th outfielder to a legit one.

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      • Wally says:

        “If you are using half-a-season OPS as a basis for improvement, I think you’re on the wrong website.”

        There is nothing wrong with doing this if you have a good reason to do it. It is true that it will have a larger error term because of the smaller sample size, but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong.

        In the case of Sweeney, first he’s young, so we have some expectation that he will improve over time. Second, he was getting over knee problems earlier in the season. Meaning, if we see a positive trend in his preformance over time, we have a good reason to believe it is real, and the most recent data is the most telling of his true talent. If this is true, Sweeney is going to be one damned good player.

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  14. Cam says:

    If sweeney is considered a 4th OF, so should ellsbury then?

    worse OPS+
    worse defense
    terrible OF arm (though not as bad as damon)
    hitting in boston for a home park vs oakland is a huge advantage
    Ellsbury has elite speed on sweeney no doubt, but every other area of his game might be considered a bit worse

    That said, i dont consider eithe 4th OF IMO, both are solid above avg mlb OF.

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    • scott says:

      Ellsbury has a higher wOBA
      Ellsbury was worth 11.8 *park adjusted* Runs Above Average to Sweeney’s 2.4 in 2009
      Ellsbury UZR/150 from year to year – -10.5, 6.9, -12.3. I’m guessing he’s somewhere in between there. Not great.
      Nearly the same ISO.

      If you wouldn’t take Ellsbury – a proven major league CF – that, again, stole 70 bases at an 85% clip, over Ryan Sweeney, you are absolutely batshit crazy.

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      • Cam says:

        No i wouldnt since they already have rajai davis

        So Sweeney /Ellsbury are basically comparable outside of the speed. Sweeney has an adgeofdefense/arm IMO. Sweeney isnt a stiff out there, he had some knee issues. If healthy i think he’s a 20+ steal guy eventually. Not close to ellsbury, but its not like he’s benji molina running out there. Yet you call one a 4th OF and the other a legit starting OF

        Sounds like you are a white sox fan wanting him to fail,am i wrong?

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      • scott says:

        I have no desire to see someone fail or succeed, regardless of my fandom. Am I am White Sox fan? Yes. Do I have some sort of blind hatred for former White Sox players? Not at all. If I have any interest in presenting the legitimacy of an argument, it’s basically void if that’s the case.

        Ellsbury and Sweeney are not comparable – the former is a better player than the latter and I’ve already laid that out. You can go on talking about park advantages and OPS/OPS+ and their arm strength in comparison to Johnny Damon, but it’s clear to me and probably many others that Ellsbury >> Sweeney.

        Speed is not something that *increases* as you age. Ask any person at any level of any mindset; Sweeney never showed any speed in the minors, why on earth would we believe he’ll show it in the future?

        Sounds like your an A’s fan shining some of your shit and calling it gold, am I wrong?

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      • Wally says:

        Scott, over about 1100 innings Sweeney has a +25 in RF, over about 900 innings he is +1.4 and over all in the OF he’s +13.9. He’s a good fielder. He’s probably not a +21 fielder as he was this year but he’s at least +10 or so.

        “it’s clear to me and probably many others that Ellsbury >> Sweeney.”

        That’s nice and all, but you can’t back that up in anyway what so ever. Ellsbury is a -7.9 in CF. Even with positional adjustments Sweeney is dominating him in fielding, by about 10 runs (-7.9+10-13.9). Then for batting, Ellsbury was +12 this last year and basically zero last year. Then Sweeney was 2.4 and 1.1 in the last two years. So over the last two years its basically a wash. As their respective WARs would show (5.7 Sweeney, 5.4 Ellsbury). Then, as was pointed out Sweeney is 2 year young than Ellsbury. At 24 we should expect Sweeney to get better, and at 26 Ellsbury may have already peaked.

        If you said you thought Ellsbury was just a little better, I might not agree, but I wouldn’t really argue it. But to say “Ellsbury >> Sweeney” is just ridiculous. They are basically equal, but if anything Sweeney is better.

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  15. MMfan09 says:

    Small sample size, fluke…whatever you want to call it, that is a sizeable gap in value. I think if it was reversed I bet red sox fans would be praising and overrating ellsbury even more as the next mvp or superstar. Yet, the guy who does lead by a large margin, gets labeled as a 4th OF. I checked based on UZR in CF (small sample size!!) that Sweeney’s wouldve been 4th best in the AL and 9th best in mlb. So even if he shifted back over this isnt some hack covering CF. As that other guy said, you must be a bitter white sox fan nit picking Sweeney’s weaknesses and assuming that a 24 year old wont improve. But Ellsbury is 26 and considered thesure thing? Plain and simple, both will be good mlb OF’s and has shown progress in their last 2 full seasons.

    WAR for 2009
    Sweeney 3.9
    Ellsbury 2.1

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    • scott says:

      Do I really need to go and find the post where it’s claimed that from year to year, UZR has a hefty amount of noise? What isn’t there to understand about that? Why are you allowed to use the most recent 400 innings of Sweeney’s CF play and say:

      “Look! He’s one of the best outfielders in the game”

      and I’m somehow not allowed to say

      “Well, based on the same stat in virtually the same number of innings in 2008, he was one of the worst…”

      Again, all the while keeping in mind that, with a limited sample size, which is exactly what we are working with here, there is statistical noise…I’m confused where you all don’t seem to understand that.

      Also, keep in mind, I didn’t make the Ellsbury comparison.

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