Oh, What the Hell
I was working on an irate post last week while everyone was lapping up and regurgitating Wilner’s line about Barajas and Fasano being basically the same offensively when I decided that everyone has their own definition of a “slight upgrade” and the world needs more peace, love, and understanding, not some jackass with a calculator splitting hairs over numbers to feel better about himself by trashing other people’s equally valid perceptions.
But DJF just made the topic cool again, I’ve got this graph laying around, and some idiot just keyed my car for fun so the world can go get stuffed again. Here’s Fasano vs. Barajas in terms of OPS+ over their careers:
This is brutally unscientific, and uses a bunch of SMALL SAMPLE SIZES, but that looks to me like one guy who figured out how to hit eventually and another who…well, who the hell knows really. He’s never even had half a season and put together two pretty good seasons about six years apart.
But assuming the backup catcher plays 50 games in 2007, the gap in production between their runs created (4.5 vs. 2.1) comes out to just over 13 runs next season. That translates to about one win. And if I was a compulsive gambler (errr…oh, yeah, I am), I’d bet that it’s going to widen next year. Fasano at 36 is right at the point where catchers vanish in a puff of smoke (and had his worst season ever in 2006), while Barajas is only 31 and has been pleasantly floating around slightly-below-average for a while now (although his numbers last year are buoyed by a bunch of walks due to him hitting right before the pitcher).
While I think that the need to throw out runners is grotesquely overrated, here’s a comparison of Sal and Barajas’ numbers since Sal’s hiatus from the big leagues. Fasano doesn’t seem to have the same cannon any more, while Barajas has been pretty steady his entire career:
|Year||Fasano CS%||Fasano ATT/Inn||Barajas CS%||Barajas ATT/Inn|
The numbers in bold are when Sal and Fatty were catching for the Phillies, which is as close as we can get to factoring out the fact that the Jays pitching staff makes their catchers look bad. Not only does Barajas pick off 10% more steals, but runners try for the extra base half as often with him behind the plate.
Using those numbers, if Sal played 400 innings last year (roughly 50 games), he would have had 36 attempts and caught 9 runners stealing. Barajas would have had 16 attempts and caught 6 runners. Using “The Book“‘s numbers for the value of of a stolen base being worth .175 runs and being caught stealing having an offensive value of -.467, we find that steals against Fasano created (27*.175)-(9*-.467)= .522 runs, while against Barajas they come out to (10*.175)-(6*.467)= -1.052
Ugh…I can’t believe I figured that out for a run and a half of difference. Hence “grotesquely overrated”. But after adjusting for stolen bases coming more often in high-leverage situations, we’re probably looking at somewhere slightly over 1.5 wins of difference between the two players, even receiving very limited playing time as a backup. That’s not bad for 1.2 million bucks, and if it comes down to the wire or if Zaun is injured again, it looks even better. Of course Thigpen could be ready and Olivio might have been better but for all his charm, Fasano was not the answer.