Sunday, March 23, 2008


For what it's worth, there does seem to be some slight logic to the Blue Jays electing to keep Shannon Stewart and release Reed Johnson.

There's a baseball-geek stat called equivalent average (EqA), which basically works on the same scale as batting average (i.e., .300 is good). Baseball Prospectus 2008 projected Stewart for a .275 EqA; Johnson was pegged to put up an EqA of .260. Stewart was also due to make less money.

Those projections are park-neutral, but were made on the assumption Stewart would be playing in Oakland. He might gain a few points of EqA yet since he hits a lot of doubles. Rogers Centre is more generous for two-base hits than Oakland's stadium (larger outfield, natural grass, ocean air that keeps balls up in the air a split-second longer).

The drop-off on defence isn't as big as some people would have you believe. Stewart got tagged early in his career as a sketchy outfielder since he couldn't throw and was compared to Devon White standard (in typical price-of-everything, value-of-nothing Toronto-fan fashion, people probably figured every centrefielder should be like Devo). Last season in Oakland, though, his Revised Zone Rating, .898, was a smidge higher than the .891 Johnson posted when he was healthy in 2006. Besides, a left fielder's throwing arm is about 5% of his job.

In other words, Johnson can take solace that plenty of National League teams will need a fourth outfielder. Hey, Curtis Granderson is hurt in Detroit.

(UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.-ish: Drunk Jays Fans has a good thread going; on a holiday, no less. 

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: Jeff Blair's take: "Johnson was auditioning to be a fourth outfielder — not a fourth line winger on an NHL team — so stow all that nonsense about grit. Stewart's as capable as Johnson of getting hit by a pitch ... If you're counting on your left-fielder to throw people out, you're in big, big trouble.")


Tyler King said...

Or they could've kept both and stopped carrying 12 pitchers and only using 11.

I'd agree with the move if it weren't for that fact - they'll go the whole season with one totally unused player when they could instead have a versatile and effective bench. As soon as they have an opportunity for depth they throw it away.

sager said...

Hey, you'll get no disagreement here that teams don't need more than 11 pitchers ... but that extra position player spot would probably go to a third catcher or an infielder.

Having a proven everyday player to platoon with Stairs and fill in if Overbay or Thomas go down, that's depth.