That Hurts (Big)
As you’ve no doubt caught on a highlight reel by now (everyone loves watching a giant or fat man trying to run all the way to third in one go), Frank Thomas had a huge night on the Jays’ day off, going 3 for 3 with a walk, a double and a triple. Of course it’s way too early to say anything, but every time Frank gets a extra base hit it’s got to strike a little fear into Jays fans that 60 AB might not have been such rock-solid evidence that he career is totally done. So far with Oakland, he is 5 for 16, with 5 walks- an OBP of .476! And for anyone who has swallowed the media “base clogger” that getting on base half the time might be a bad thing, try this:
Now watch this clip of Alex Rios zooming around the bases at the speed of light. Do the same thing.
Of course Alex slows up coming in to second when he thinks the ball has been caught, so this is really just comparing Rios’ laziness to Frank’s sloth. But by my watch they end up getting there in pretty much the exact same time of 14 seconds. And we’re comparing the hands down fastest guy on the team here to this behemoth who apparently will never advance any more than one base on a pitch that doesn’t roll to the wall. Hear this- he’s not that slow. Even Shannon Stewart takes about 12 seconds to get around. 2 seconds over 270 feet does not make getting on basea huge number of times worthless.
Speaking of Jays castoffs who can still get on base, Reed Johnson pulls into his 83rd at bat for the Cubs with a .410 OBP, and looks a lot more like the guy who had a breakout 2006 than the impostor limping around left field last season. The Drunk Jays Fans are arguing that since Stewart has gone 4-11 against lefties (and that’s who Reed was supposed to bat against in a platoon situation), then it doesn’t make sense to argue that Reed would have been the better option.
I beg to differ. If you’re going to dismiss Reed’s start as a “hot month”, then surely you see how ridiculous it is to call 4 hits from Shanny solid in the platoon role you signed him for (update: I should have held off this post…after going 0/3 against Lester, Stewart now has a lower AVG and OBP than Reed against LHP). It’s not how he has been used, or Johnson would have been. And If Reed loses points for not killing lefties over his career, then he gains them for being the more balanced hitter (like he seemed to have figured out in 2006) that the team has needed.
The “party line” that closed the book on Reed in spring training was that Shannon could step up and play left field full-time if the need arose, but he has given the Jays zero reason to give him a shot, even with Adam Lind nursing a sore neck. Other those micro splits against LHP, Stewart been making incredibly weak contact, and shown zero sign of the power that he hasn’t had for the last three years for crying out loud. Without it, he’s no better full-time than anyone except an injured Johnson (*chuckle*).
Meanwhile, Reed is raking against both RHP and LHP like he did in 2006. He’s getting on base like he did in 2006. He’s not getting embarrassed by inside fastballs like he did in 2007. It’s early, but the preseason shenanigans of comparing Shannon’s career numbers to Reed’s 2006-less stats (fluke!) is looking more and more dubious every day. Just watch them play! Stewart is clearly not that guy any more. Reed is clearly not the disaster he was last year. Sure he’s going to get tired and cool off (or kill himself by diving head first into a wall), but so far the team would have been much, much better off with Reed as a fourth outfielder, even without comparing his web gems to Stewart’s noodle arm.
Going forward? We’ll see…but I think it’s fair for “Reed Fanboys” to call this a bust so far and miss Dougie with a passion. As I waxed on endlessly preseason, Shannon is just not the player he used to be- the Jays chose him to save money and get some predictable mediocrity. They haven’t even got that, and Reed has found that step scouts were mumbling was gone for good and shown he can still get on base at a ridiculous rate for a while.