Re: Ciriaco VS Iglesias Who do you choose?
posted at 8/2/2012 9:54 PM EDT
The Sox philosophy with Ciriaco should be simple – play him every day until he gives them a reason not to. Beyond that, worrying about his long term future is absurd.
Clearly, Ciriaco-Mania is rampant, largely because there has been little else, and he stands out as an overachiever on a team with many more underachievers. He is NOT a long term solution, possibly not even at utility infielder. Fans who think he has suddenly morphed into a game-changing offensive force at shortstop are going to be very disappointed and launch into denial when he suddenly isn’t one. And to make claims like “even when he stops hitting, he will get on base because of his speed” is nothing more than wishful thinking. He was just as fast in the minors, and still only managed a .299 OBP. This year was the first time his OBP above AA topped .300, and he has never topped .320 above A ball, yet somehow he will turn into an OBP machine at the MLB level at age 26?
One might think fans could have learned that hot starts aren’t necessarily representative of long term potential from Daniel Nava, who not so long ago (one month? Two months?) many fany were touting as a no-brainer to replace the struggling Carl Crawford in LF. Odd, no one commented on how Crawford’s speed would guarantee getting on base and changing the game, by the way.
And Punto’s career, even recently, has been infinitely better than Ciriaco’s. Punto had an .809 OPS last year at age 33, largely carried by his career-high .388OBP. That number is a full 100 points higher than the highest number Ciriaco has managed in the last 3 years in the minors (pre-Pawtucket). And while Ciriaco does have a .351 career OBP in a limited MLB career, it is all but completely carried by his .339BA.
And it’s not hard to see where that .339BA comes from. Looking at Ciriaco’s career BABIP (.422!!) and the subsequent splits, it is not hard to see he has actually been a little lucky. And by “a little lucky”, I mean “can I get this guy into my MegaMillions office pool?” His ground ball BABIP is an absurd .405, which is insane even for those claiming his difference making speed. Dee Gordon is also ridiculously fast, yet only has a .245BABIP on ground balls. A realistic look at Ciriaco’s splits shows his BABIP should drop from .422 for his career down to .377, and that is assuming he can maintain his current 30% line drive rate. That drop alone drops his career batting average to a respectable .301. However, it also drops his OBP to about .316. Anyone check Nick Punto’s OBP this year? (Hint: 310, or 6 fewer times on base in 1,000 plate appearances.)
And then what would happen to Ciriaco when (not “if”) his LD% starts to drop to a much more realistic 17-18%? (Yes, I actually ran the numbers.) You are looking at a .253 hitter with a .269OBP. That is slightly less offense than the Sox are currently getting from Mike Aviles. Given his current rate of XBH, Ciriaco will then couple that OBP with a .346SLG for a .615OPS. (All you Punto Detractors, please check out Nick’s current OPS.) And that is assuming he can maintain a 17-18% line drive rate, which is not exactly commonplace. In fact, it is actually fairly decent, and while certainly attainable, probably about a best case scenario for Ciriaco.
It is amazing how many fans can claim to remember watching Joe Cronin and Boby Doerr, yet somehow cannot remember as far back as Daniel Nava. And the perception of anyone who struggles? Lester? Done. Beckett? Done. Crawford? Done. Lackey? Done? Yet Ciriaco struggled for years in the minors, but suddenly 80 at-bats later and the Sox have the second coming of Rafael Furcal. And it is time to worry about locking him up!!
Ciriaco should be allowed to ride out his hot streak, and if he can keep himself in the game with his defense, I see no reason he cannot bat ninth. But beyond 2012, I wouldn’t worry about him, and neither should you. He might stick around as a utility INF (possibly in Pawtucket), but he probably won’t be as much of an improvement over Punto as many fans think, assuming he is one at all.
And you will have found some other shiny new toy on a hot streak to fawn over by then…