I wanted to share this quick post since I’m sure a few other Giants fans might be interested. The Pirates have just traded Adam LaRoche to the Red Sox for two minor prospects (reports are for SS Argenis Diaz and RHP Hunter Strickland).
From 2006-2007 LaRoche posted back-to-back 2.5 win years with the Braves and the Pirates. He owns a career major league wOBA of .349 (league average tends to be around .332) and most will remember him for the 32 home runs he launched in ’06. But, while he’s generally been an above-average offensive player, he owns a career UZR/150 of -4.8 runs at first base. Defensively, he won’t embarrass at the position but he’s a below-average defender. Much like Ishikawa, he should be platooned and only allowed to hit off of RHP.
On the other side, Ishikawa is probably a below-average hitter with very good defense at 1B. In 774 career innings at first base Ishikawa has a UZR/150 of +10.2 runs or about 1 win.
By using ZiPS rest-of-season numbers and some defensive guesstimates, we can get an idea of the differences in value between Ishikawa and LaRoche. ZiPS has LaRoche projected as a .352 wOBA hitter over the rest of the season and Ishikawa a .317 wOBA hitter. Defensively, LaRoche has logged over 6,000+ innings at 1B in his career, so we can pretty much assume his true talent on defense is around -4 runs per a full season of baseball. Ishikawa, on the other hand, is a little tougher to peg. In 700+ innings he’s rated around +10 runs over a full-season, but his sample is smaller than we’d like. He does have the benefit of scouting well during his minor league career. For this purpose, I’m docking him a couple of runs and calling him a +8 run defender over a full season.
Now, let’s do some WAR math with ZiPS’ RoS projections and our defensive guesstimates.
Batting Wins Above Average (.317 wOBA, league wOBA .332): –0.87 wins
Defensive Wins Above Average: +0.8 wins
1B Positional Adjustment: –1.25 wins
Replacement Level: +2.25 wins
= .93 wins above replacement * .4 (or 40% playing time ie: 280 PA’s) = +.372 wins over the remaining season
Batting Wins Above Average (.352 wOBA, league wOBA .332): +1.16 wins
Defensive Wins Above Average: –0.4 wins
1B Positional Adjustment : –1.25 wins
Replacement Level: +2.25 wins
= 1.76 wins above replacement * .4 (or 40% playing time ie: 280 PA’s) = +.704 wins over the remaining season
LaRoche (.704) – Ishikawa (.372) = a difference of .332 wins for the rest of the season.
It turns out that the difference between the two first basemen is about 1/3rd of a full-win. Ideally, I’m not crazy about trading away two prospects for .3 wins. Diaz was rated as grade C+ prospect by John Sickels before the ’09 season and Strickland didn’t receive a grade. Strickland looks like a relief prospect — though he’s starting right now in AA for Boston — at the major league level.
Here’s Strickland’s scouting report courtesy of SoxProspects.com:
Scouting Report: Tall righty with projectable frame. Fastball sits about 88-91 mph, topping out around 93. Fastball is a little flat, but shows some good movement when he takes something off of it. Strickland has a slow, easy delivery without much explosion at the moment. Good balance. Also works in a 79-82 mph slurve along with a change that sits at 83-85 mph. Changeup could stand to have some more separation from his fastball, look for that to be an area of improvement in 2009.Repeats delivery well, needs to work on his release point to improve his command. His father played in the Tigers organization.
By Sickels’ grades, a comparable trade package would be SS Ehire Adrianza and one of Kevin Pucetas, Aaron King, or Mike Loree. If the Giants are dead-set on trading for position players, I think you’ve got to set the improvement bar at +1 wins over our current inhouse options. Otherwise, I’m not sure what the point is.
Comment Starter: Was LaRoche on your Wish List?