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Nov 24

Free Agent Fun with Comps: the DHs

Kendrys MoralesThis is part 8 of an ongoing series featuring a breakdown of the current free agent players at each position. Positions completed so far: catchers, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and remaining outfielders.

As mentioned in my earlier posts, I’m assessing the current free agent players seeking their respective paydays by comparing each player with his historical comp. Then, after painstakingly looking over the numbers, I determine if I’d bet on the current free agent to perform better over the next few years or go with the comp.

It’s that simple.

All comparisons are pulled using the Similarity Score by age from Baseball-Reference and all free agents were borrowed from the listing at MLB Trade Rumors.

Today, I discuss the DH.

DH

Of the players listed as designated hitters on the Trade Rumor’s website, I’ve covered the majority of them in other postings. Of those that remain, those that are retiring or likely to retire outnumber those that I’ll discuss below and there are as many potential Major League managers in this group (for this year) as there are full time DHs.

Retiring

Adam Dunn is calling it quits, retiring at 34 after 14 years of lots of walks, lots of strikeouts, and lots of arguments on whether he’s truly valuable or not. The young me would have called you crazy for arguing Dunn had any relative value on a baseball field. He started out his career way back in 2001 as a subpar left fielder with the Cincinnati Reds, doing his Adam Dunn thing by walloping, walking, and whiffing or as I like to call them Dunn’s True W’s.

I would have hated him if he were a Met. That’s not true. I would have loved him in compared to the likes of Shinjo and Joe McEwing, and let’s not even discuss those Roger Cedeno years, but I would have hated all those strikeouts and the passive-aggressive style of play that came to take over baseball.

Jonah Keri did a nice piece on Dunn for Grantland, so I won’t go too crazy with the details, but in the big picture, he hit 40 or more home runs six times in his career, 30 or more another three times, and finished with 462. He’s also one of four players to strike out 200+ times in a season, whiffing 222 times in 2012 to fall one shy of Mark Reynold’s record of 223. Of course, in that same year, Dunn walked 105 times, eclipsing the 100 walk mark for his eighth and final time. That’s a pretty extraordinary event really. He either walked of struck out 47% of the time that season and 44% of the time for his career. Add in home runs, and Dunn walked, whiffed, or walloped in half of his plate appearances.

Possibly Retiring

There’s no official word yet, but two players amongst this group who likely will be retiring are Jason Giambi and Raul Ibanez. Ibanez has been named as a finalist for the Rays managerial opening, which probably means his playing days are over. If the Rays don’t hire him, the Yankees may be interested in him as a coach as well. Gone are the days of Frank Chance playing first and coaching the Cubs, and Pete Rose was the last player to serve as both coach and player, so if Ibanez is ready to take over official duties as a manager, then he’ll be switching to coaches shoes rather than cleats.

Another player who may be hanging up his player’s spikes is Giambi, though it’s not official yet. According to Deadspin, Terry Francona has called Giambi his “manager-in-waiting,” and it seems like only a matter of time before this actually happens. Giambi will be 44 next year, and he played just 26 games in ’14, missing over half of the season due to either a rib fracture, a calf strain, or left knee inflammation. At 44, there’s only so much ibuprofen can do. I’m 38 and had an abdominal cramp just lifting my sorry butt from the sofa. Sometimes it’s time to admit that the gray in our hair isn’t highlights.

All players listed below are sorted by career bWAR.

Current Player Age Closest Comp Favorite Comp Pick
Jason Giambi 44 Andres Galarraga Dave Winfield
Raul Ibanez 42 Cy Williams Steve Finley
Corey Hart 33 Reggie Sanders Trot Nixon Sanders
Kendrys Morales 31 Gordy Coleman Juan Rivera Morales
Ryan Doumit 34 Eddie Bressoud Tim Teufel Doumit
Jonny Gomes 34 Paul Sorrento Henry Rodriguez Gomes
Jason Kubel 33 Marty Cordova Jayson Werth Cordova
Delmon Young 29 Al Oliver Darin Erstad Oliver

DHs by Comps

Jason Giambi1.  Jason Giambi – Giambi hasn’t played in over half a season’s games since 2010, and he’s been hanging around since on one-year deals for bupkis. He loves baseball. I think it’s great he wants to hang around the clubhouse and hang out with the fellas. It’s time, though, that he did that as a coach.

Giambi will always be remembered for his 2005 apology for <shrugs>. At the time it was an extremely confusing press conference, one that made Giambi something of a joke until about a week later when Jose Canseco’s book Juiced came out and started all kinds of steroid related silliness that included a Congressional hearing, great Rafael Palmeiro sound bites, the Mitchell Report, and a few thousand articles exploring the depths of sports writers’ shock, dismay, outrage, and/or guilt for not being aware of all this.

Giambi was a five-time All Star, the AL MVP in 2000, definitely should have won it in 2001 when he came in second to Ichiro, and finished fifth one other time. He’s hit 440 career home runs with nearly a .400 career OBP. I don’t want to write out his stats for the last few years. You can look them up.

Andres Galarraga retired after playing seven games at the age of 43. This one’s a tie.

2.  Raul Ibanez – Ibanez’s career took off for real after leaving Seattle and signing with the Royals on a minor league contract in 2001. That year he hit .280/.353/.495 with 13 home runs (or one fewer than he’d hit in five partial seasons he’d spent with the Mariners from 1996-2000). The Mariners certainly didn’t care. They had Ichiro in left, Mike Cameron in center, and won 116 regular season games. With Ibanez playing left, would the Mariners have won 118 instead?

Last year was a big drop off for Ibanez as he became unplayable against left handed pitchers (something he’s struggled with throughout his career but reaching epically disastrous proportions of .024/.109/.049 last season in a meager 47 at-bats) and failed to reach double digits in home runs for the first time since 2000. Maybe 2013 wasn’t happening again when he hit 29 home runs—aided largely by the 24 home runs he hit in the first half, but still—but the Angels bargained for more than 57 games. Probably. Who knows? Everything else worked in Anaheim last year. Maybe they knew this would happen too.

Cy Williams was an offensive force at 41 albeit in 66 games. He hit .292/.471/.554 with five homers and had an OPS+ of 147. Hey, at 42 he hit .471 in 21 at-bats. He didn’t play at 43, which is probably the same for Ibanez. Push.

3.  Corey Hart – covered with first basemen.

4.  Kendrys Morales – Like Stephen Drew, Morales played the arbitration wait and sign game and lost. After refusing the qualifying offer from Seattle, Morales eventually signed with Minnesota in June for 8 million. He then proceeded to have the worst season of his career, hitting.218/.274/.338 in combined duty with the Twins and Mariners and being worth -1.0 bWAR overall.

The great news is that he can’t receive the qualifying offer this year.

In hindsight, this was a disastrous deal. He lost out on about six million last season, and he’s unlikely to make that money back in 2015. If anything, he’ll probably sign a one-year deal in the 4-5 million range, making that one Scott Boras (his agent) gamble likely worth at least 10-12 million in lost wages for Morales.

Of all this group, Morales is the youngest (he’ll be 31 next season) and his years in Anaheim and Seattle prior to 2014 were productive. Last year was a punt, but I imagine Morales will return to have a few solid seasons.

The best things about Gordy Coleman are his name, he was born in Rockville, MD, and he looks like he belongs on Home Run Derby. I loved watching reruns of that show back in high school. Whither has thy gone?

That was not Gordy. Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew appeared in that particular episode, but Gordy could have appeared (in 1959, when the show was filmed, Coleman appeared in a scant six games for Cleveland, but whatever) and competed for wonderful cash prizes. A show filled with eventual Hall of Fame players and forced to give awkward on-air interviews. Oh man. This was great stuff.

At the age of 31 Gordy shared first with another eventual Hall of Famer Tony Perez, and his career was over at 32.

Morales wins.

5.  Ryan Doumit – I either missed Doumit with the catchers or he wasn’t listed at the time, but he appears in the DH grouping so everything works out. Like Morales, Doumit enters the free agent market after having a pretty bad ’14. In 100 games with the Braves, in which he was used largely as a pinch hitter, he hit .197/.235/.318 while striking out nearly 30% of the time. The latter is otherwise known as the Atlanta school of hitting.

While he technically can call games behind the plate, he hasn’t been used primarily as a catcher since 2011 when he was with the Pirates. Asking him to suit up and begin framing pitches again at 34 is probably not the best idea at this point in his career, so that either limits him to a backup catcher, outfielder fill-in role or a spot as DH.

In his last contract, he signed a two-year deal for 3.5 per, and he’ll probably sign for just south of that in his next contract.

At 34, Eddie Bressoud was worth 2.0 bWAR for the Mets, coming in fourth on the team behind Dennis Ribant, Ken Boyer, and Ron Hunt. Of the top five players on that 1966 Mets team by bWAR, only one, Jack Fisher, played for the team in ’67. The Mets turned a career year by Ribant into three decent seasons of Don Cardwell, traded Boyer along with Sandy Alomar for peanuts; and missed out on some more borderline All Star years by Ron Hunt by trading him for flotsam. If the Mets don’t trade Hunt off, he probably goes down as the best second baseman in Mets team history.

Why do you care? I don’t know, but three years later this team won it all.

Oh, and Doumit is the pick.

6.  Jonny Gomes – covered with left fielders.

7.  Jason Kubel – covered with left fielders.

8.  Delmon Young – covered with left fielders.

 

Player Count Position
Mike Macfarlane 3 Catchers
Scott Servais 3 Catchers
Ben Oglivie 3 1B
Robby Thompson 2 2B
Johnny Berardino 2 SS
All unique 1 3B
Josh Willingham 3 LF
Jim Lemon 3 LF
8 players 2 OF
6 players 2 DH

Similar Players by Count

 

Next I look at the starting pitching.

Kendrys Morales photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc
Jason Giambi photo credit: permanently scatterbrained via photopin cc

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