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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

LINCOLN'S SECRETARY
The LA Times brings up the fact that Adam Kennedy can't hit at home this year. And it's true: he has a 179/261/235 line at home against a 328/389/484 on the road.

I would read nothing into this: over the course of 2001-2003, he had a 302/360/460 at home and a 267/313/353 on the road. So count up this year as a fluke.

But I don't think this is fluky:

Adam Kennedy AVG/OBP/SLG, 2004

vs RHP: 275/340/393
vs LHP: 217/301/304

Adam Kennedy AVG/OBP/SLG, 2001-2003
vs RHP: 293/346/424
vs LHP: 247/295/339
Kennedy, you may recall, started life as a platoon player. In 2002, Kennedy had 85% of his plate appearances against righthanded pitchers, and had his best season by far. But last year, only 76% of his plate appearances came against RHP. The irony is that he actually wasn't all that bad against lefties in 2002, hitting 275/320/449 against them in his 69 at-bats. This infers, to me, anyway, that Scioscia did a good job of spotting when Adam should hit against a lefty.

But Kennedy's limited success against lefties in 2002, along with his excellent defense, has led to his being a regular. Kennedy has faced righties in 74% of his plate appearances this year, which is a very normal rate: Vlad has faced righties in 73%.

But should he be? Would any defensive dropoff counteract the benefit of having, say, Legs Figgins play second against lefties?

Chone is hitting 319/404/420 in 119 at-bats against lefties this year, after going 284/340/375 in 88 AB last year. Let's look at lifetime numbers:

Vs. LHP, Career

Player AVG OBP SLG AB
Kennedy 250 302 338 529
Legs 298 369 395 215
Given the relatively few at-bats we have to work with, it's hard to say with certainty if this reflects either player's true abilities in the matter. But assuming it does ... let's say the Halo second-sacker will have roughly 600 plate appearances, and that 25% of those will be against lefthanders. That's about 150 plate appearances; we might expect each of these guys to walk about 10 to 15 times out of those, so let's call that 140 at-bats.

You may not know this, but multiplying OBP and SLG and AB brings up a reasonably accuarate appraisal of runs scored. The difference between Figgins and Kennedy with the bat in such a scenario would be about six runs. Do you believe, that over the course of 25% of the season, Adam Kennedy is six runs better on defense than Chone Figgins?

Well, that's a pretty difficult question to answer, but I would be shocked if Kennedy is six runs beter than Figgins over the course of about 40 games. That's .15 runs a game ... let's look at it this way: BPro claims that, over the course of his career, Adam Kennedy is .040 runs per game above average with the glove. They also claim that, in a much smaller sample, Figgins is .052 runs per game above average with the glove (second base only).

I don't know if you believe BPro, and I'm not sure I do, either, but .15 runs a game is an extra single saved once every three games, or maybe an extra double play. Putting it that way, it doesn't seem so ridiculous, but who knows ...

... with the current state of the team, it may not be possible to switch to a platoon at second. With Garret's shaky body and Clutch DaVanon on the DL, The Legs is needed in center. But looking to the future, this is something the Lads definitely need to consider.

(I should also add that this is not meant to disparage Kennedy. BPro puts him at a .260 EqA, which means he is exactly a league-average hitter. BPro also thinks he's been one run worse than average with the glove this year, which I think is crazy, but anyway ... a second baseman who is a league-average hitter with good defense is a valuable player. This goes for David Eckstein and his .261 EqA as well. But just because Kennedy has considerable value, that doesn't mean you can't look for ways to improve the position, especially with in-house solutions like Figgins that cost you nothing.)

Comments:
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