MLB Trade Rumors has a recent post detailing that Pedro Feliz is looking for a 2 year deal this offseason instead of the 1 year deal he signed with the Giants last offsesaon. Feliz is a hot button topic with Giants fans because you either hate watching him flail away at low and away breaking balls or you enjoy his solid defense and occasional longball. With the Giants heading into 2008 with major openings at 3B, SS, 1B, and potentially LF, should the Giants look to sign Feliz for a 2 year deal most likely worth around $12M?
Let’s take a look at Pedro Feliz’s numbers since 2004 when he became a full-time starter. Until 2004 Feliz was a utility guy.
YEAR BA OBP SLG K% BB/K ISO BABIP 2004 .276 .305 .485 16.9 .27 .209 .295 2005 .250 .295 .422 17.9 .37 .172 .273 2006 .244 .281 .428 18.6 .29 .184 .267 2007 .249 .287 .421 12.5 .43 .172 .252
The numbers aren’t anything new to Giants fans, especially the poor OBP% – which correlates to poor plate discipline – and the low BA. Feliz is known by most fans as a “power hitter” because he’ll smack you about 20 HRs annually, but Pedro’s ISO (SLG% – BA, if you’re new to the term ISO, this site has a nice article on it) isn’t great. Generally, a hitter with a .200 or greater ISO is considered a power hitter, Feliz has been borderline to that .200 level for the last few years. A .200 ISO means that a player will hit you 2 XBH per 10 times at bat. Pedro’s career BABIP is .271 and he’s been inline with that number over the last few years. His 2004 BABIP was the highest it’s ever been and it translated to his best season as a hitter. His BABIP this year is a little under for what it should be but nothing drastic.
A big storyline going into the 2007 offseason was that Pedro was going to undertake a massive hitting program to try and help his hitting game. He was going to try and focus on hitting the ball to RF instead of trying to pull everything like he always has. Has it helped Feliz any? Maybe a little. His K% is the lowest it’s been since he became a starter and it’s helped boost his K/BB rate. Has it paid off in his stats? Not really, Feliz is about on par with his previous years. His OPS+ this year is 80 and before the “hitting program” it was 79 last year. Feliz is still the same hitter. He’s not striking out as much but he’s not walking any more (33 walks last year to 29 this year). This year the league average NL 3B is hitting (.281/.348/.458) and Feliz is obviously under those numbers. Despite perceived power, Feliz just isn’t a good hitting third basemen.
How well a player can hit the ball is only one side of the equation, we must also take into account the type of defense Pedro Feliz plays. Let’s look at some defense stats for Feliz.
YEAR FRAR FRAA 2004 +10 0 2005 +8 -4 2006 +24 +10 2007 +25 +12
For defense I used BP’s FRAR and FRAA. FRAR stands for fielding runs above replacement, the number of runs a fielder saves his team compared to a replacement level fielder. Think of a replacement level player as a player that any team can easily aquire by waivers, or puling them out of their farm system. FRAA stands for fielding runs above average, the number of runs a fielder has saved his team compared to an average player at that position. A player with a FRAA of +20 or better is usually considered the best defensive player at that position. Always remember when dealing with stats that look at average players and replacement players, the average player is always better than the replacement player.
Feliz’s numbers at 3B over the last two years are very good. Feliz occasionally gets gold glove talk and I think you could make the case that it’s well deserved. This year he’s actually playing a little bit better defense at 3B than he did last year. He’s saving 25 runs over what a replacement player could do and 12 runs over a average 3B. Feliz is clearly one of the better defenders at 3B. For comparison, Scott Rolen saved 23 runs over replacement and 13 runs over the average 3B this year. Feliz, defensively, is in Scott Rolen’s class.
Pedro Feliz has been worth about 3 wins over the last two years on the strength of his glove alone. His bat has a bunch of holes but his glove is golden. BP has Feliz valued at being worth $6.6M this year and $6.2M the next year. By 2009 Feliz’s value should dip to somewhere around $4.9M per year. A 2 year $12M contract wouldn’t be outlandish for Feliz but should the Giants do it?
I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving Feliz a 2 year deal if I was Brian Sabean. If he could come back on a 1 year deal, then I might consider it but 2 years? I’m not sure I’m liking that much. The Giants could let Rich Aurilia play 3B for the majority of 2008 and save themselves $6+ million in the process. If they are truly rebuilding, why not let Aurilia and someone like AAA Justin Leone share 3B next year? Leone is hardly a prospect at 30, but he hit (.269/.383/.498) in 2007 for the Grizzlies. His numbers would most likely take a hit some in the majors but I like that he actually walked in AAA, working 78 walks to 109 strike outs. He also flashed a little power, even if it is the PCL, hitting 20 HRs, 30 2Bs, and 4 3Bs. I think there is a good chance that Leone would at least perform in the vicinity of Feliz and cost a lot less.
Baring any trades for a third basemen, the Giants could use Aurilia and Leone as a bridge to 2009, where the 3B free agents are at least a litte more interesting than they are this year.
2009 3B Free Agents
Hank Blalock * TEX
Joe Crede CWS
Morgan Ensberg SD
Troy Glaus TOR
Chipper Jones * ATL
Corey Koskie MIL
Greg Norton TB
Alex Rodriguez NYY (may void)
Scott Spiezio * STL
Thanks to Cots Contracts for the list. The asterick denotes that the player has a 2009 option.
Comment Starter: What should the Giants do with 3B?