Willy Taveras is jobless. Not for too long, since the A’s will either lose him on waivers — not sure lose is the right word here — or he could find himself in Triple-A. His employment in limbo stems, in large part, because his on-base percentage was .275 last season. Here’s some food for thought. Zack Greinke was pretty much the best pitcher in the American League last season. Greinke’s on-base percentage against was .276. That means, Taveras got on base less against all pitchers faced than the rest of baseball did against the league’s best pitcher.
Some of that horrid mark involved disobedience by never walking and the other part seems to be poor luck. A .278 BABIP is well below his career norms, and his previous low was twenty points higher. Taveras is a slap hitter who is at his best when he’s hitting the ball on the ground and using his legs to secure singles. Bunts have always been a part of his game, but his execution last year was the worst he’s had throughout his major league career. Failure to reach on two-thirds of his bunt attempts wasn’t the only batted ball issue Taveras had, for whatever reasons, 20% of his fly balls were of the infield variety – about as close to a sure out as you can get.
Taveras can still be useful though. That seems like a thought shared by those who think Socrates is a clothing brand, but it’s true. The problem for Taveras is how late he joins the fray. A team could claim him on waivers, or look towards similar players – like, say, the recovering Endy Chavez – and save a 40-man roster spot as well as cash. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Taveras fill out some National League team’s bench. It does surprise me that Taveras racked up nearly 400 plate appearances as the Reds’ leadoff man.
I guess there’s nothing like starting every game by facing Zack Greinke.