This is probably my last take on the Vernon Wells trade until the games count for real and we can actually evaluate Wells’ performance and how that performance equates to wins for the LA Angels. The Vernon Wells trade has actually been a microcosm on the state of baseball perception and analysis. By a large majority, Wells has solely been judged by his contract instead of the impact that he will have on the team. Pundits have argued that Juan Rivera has been just as valuable as Wells citing similar WAR (Wins Above Replacement) numbers over the past few years. Really? Shouldn’t such comparisons themselves make people realize how foolish they sound? WAR has unfortunately become the first and last thing mentioned whenever player comparison is brought up. Like John Hollinger’s PER the misuse of WAR is starting to get down right criminal. While both stats have value, no one statistical measurement can entirely encompass player performance.
What it really boils down to is the Angels Front Office does not subscribe to the WAR philosophy of running a club. So to them David Dejesus is not a better ball player than Vernon Wells and neither is Josh Willingham they may have higher WAR’s and a better OBP but they don’t offer the same run production as Wells. I cite Dejesus and Willingham because these two signings have been widely praised in Saber circles as efficient high value signings, and they might very well be. However I agree with the Halos, neither player is of Wells’ caliber yet the Angels have largely been condemned despite the fact that Wells will likely have a huge impact on the clubs win total. It’s somewhat absurd but this is the risk the Halos take because they seem to still be a bit old fashion when it comes to player evaluation. The Angels largely ignore advanced statistics and instead prefer traditional counting stats as the main indicator of player performance. Mike Scioscia in particular loves average with RISP. (runners in scoring position). He cites it in nearly every post game interview. Mike Napoli was among the worst in the game the past few years hitting a pathetic .182 last year in such scenarios. To the Angels his inability to hit with RISP and his poor defense was a huge detriment to his value to them. Yet WAR has him nearly at 3 wins above replacement. The Angels place different values on players that doesn’t include WAR. Tony Reagins has gone on record many times saying “we don’t get into the advanced stats and Sabermetrics and all that”.
While some may disagree with how the Angels measure “value” you can’t really argue too much with the on field results. The team won five division titles in six years including three straight until last year. Whatever you think about how the off season has gone and how money could have been better allocated, the Angels will again compete for a post season birth and are a better club than they were heading into 2010. Having Haren , Wells , Downs, and Takahashi in the fold along with the return of the teams best player (Kendry Morales) will keep the Angels competitive in 2011 and as a fan that’s all you can ask for.
Now onto the Monday links:
- Michael Young lists the Angels as one of his approved teams in his no trade clause
- The Yankees could be interested in Scott Kazmir
- Vernon Wells adds to long list of Angels who starred in Football
- Hank Conger really can win the everyday catching job!
- The PECOTA Projections love the Angels starting rotation