Re: Smoak and Mirrors
posted at 1/14/2013 11:50 PM EST
In response to tom-uk's comment:
IMO The case against trading for Smoak is strong.
Last 3 years on road: .707 OPS .271 BABIP .168 ISO 173 games
Looking at a low BABIP and blaming bad luck is too simplistic, and in this case wrong.
Why is his BABIP low?
Line drive 18% is low (11th of 61 1B)
Pop-ups 11% is high (17th highest of 61)
Infield hits 2% is low (4th of 61)
Flyball 42% in high (13th highest of 61)
His HR/FB 12% is average (25th of 61)
McQwire had a career .255 BABIP but.....
I expected a similar response from you. You have made the most compelling anti-Smoak arguments to date. and the only one to use a range of statistics.
Per the line drive rate, I would argue that the league average runs from 18 to 20% typically (per fangraphs), and has fallen in to that range for the past 5 years. So Smoak’s “low” line drive rate is really low end of average. And in 2 of the last 3 years, has been either high end of league average or above. In 2011, he did have an abysmally low 13.4%, however. Smoak has been hampered by some bad luck on his line drives, as his BABIP over a 3 year stretch is about .690, which is behind the league average of .720.
Also his HR/FB rate is apparently largely ballpark dependant. In 2011, he did have a higher rate (13.4%) at home than on the road, but the home / road splits were reversed drastically in 2010 (20% / 7%) and 2012 (19.5% / 4.9%). The end result are career splits of 15.8% and 8.5%. So, if you take Smoak out of Seattle, nearly one of every 6 flyballs goes for a HR. That is not an elite rate, but certainly not one that should be ignored. Over the past 3 years, that number is greater than the HR/FB rate of Matt Holliday, Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre, among numerous others. The Sox alternate 1B front runner, Mike Napoli is 2 overall in MLB, behind Giancarlo Stanton.
His popup rate is certainly a concern and a factor. Fangraphs lists it as 12.8% over the past 3 seasons, which places him 40th in MLB over that stretch. There are some impressive names worse in this regard (Trot Tulowiztki), but not many. Mark Trumbo has a 14.1%, if you consider him a viable alternative. (He is not. The Angels dealt Kendrys Morales to pave the way for him.) However, around 12% is where the big names start appearing, such as Giancarlo Stanton (12.5%). Frankly, if he hits a home run on every sixth flyball, I can live with a popup every eighth.
Your previous argument was based on wRC. While Fangraphs search I did differed slightly from your results, and placed him 56 of 57 with your criteria, ahead of only Travis Lee, the point was taken, as “Better than Travis Lee” is really not much of an argument. My counterargument is that if Smoak is hitting outside of Safeco and homering at a higher rate, and if he can hit around .720 on LD percentage like any hitter with normal luck does, it would certainly increase his wRC, and might do so significantly. After all, on the page I looked at, James Loney was more productive than Paul Konerko with that criteria. So there is no doubt that it is not etched in stone as a forecast for the future.
The real question to me is the price tag. Several bloggers feel Smoak still carries significant trade value, although I have yet to see an actual name attached. What is not disputed is his future in Seattle. With Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay all on board with expected playing tome at 1B and DH, Smoak does appear to be one of the odd men out, along with Mike Carp. The Mariners are also repeatedly linked to productive OF bats, such as Justin Upton and (more recently) Mike Morse. Now if the price for Morse is a LHRP plus a prospect, the Sox might be able to “help” Seattle out by sending Andrew Miller for Smoak, either enabling the Mariners to deal Miller plus directly for Morse, or allowing Miller to take over the LHRP role from Charlie Furbush. Either way, acquiring Morse would further reduce the role of Smoak in Seattle. The only questions remaining are whether or not Miller is enough, or what other pieces are involved. There is most definitely a line somewhere where Smoak’s price should be considered too high.
Get the 2011 Smoak, and things will certainly not work out. But if the Sox get the 2010 or 2012 version, and he has potential to be a steal and grow into the role of Smoak Monster.