I understand the fatuation with Ryan Freel…I just keep waiting for the shoes to drop.
Shoes at this time, because none have dropped. He’s a very useful player, but he’s not a starting player…I don’t care how exciting he is; I don’t care how versatile he is; I don’t even care about his OBP.
1) He’s going to hurt someone..himself and others. He’s reckless…I love hustle (trust me, it was the only thing I could do on the ballfield…), but hustling to the detriment of the team is more self-serving than beneficial, in my opinion, and I don’t want to see him colliding with Dunn, Kearns, or Griffey.
2) He gets on base, but it’s by crook, and I think it’s a short term strategy. He can’t hit, he pokes; that’s okay if you’re a pinch hitter, trying to get the bat on the ball, and you’ve got speed serving a role. But, you’ve got to do more if you’re playing all the time; otherwise you’re Wilton Guerrero, and we’ve already released him, too.
3) He’s not young…no, not at all. He’s already 29, and he’s at or past peak…so, what’s his decline phase going to show? All ground balls and flares to the infield? Bunt every bat? Worse in the field.? It’s not like he has a home run stroke to alter…
4) His fielding is not good. Passable, but not good. Utility good.
5) His lack of driving the ball ability means he cannot drive in runs. Yes, there’s a team function to it, but even Baseball Prospectus, which eschews the RBI column in their stats and projections says in their 2005 book, if you can’t drive in 40 runs playing fulltime theres’ something wrong…Freel drove in 28 last year. Runners hold up on grounders and flares…
6) He doesn’t score runs either…he scored 74 runs (from the leadoff position) after getting on base over 200 times. That’s about 35%, and he was on base in front of Griffey, Dunn, Casey, and everybody else. For reference…Pete Rose scored that often at age 43 while with the Expos. In Rose’s early days, when he had more power, he scored at about 40% rate (when offenses scored about 33% less than today). Barry Larkin scored runs at a 40% rate for his career; Reggie Sanders scores at a 45% rate. When you can get yourself into scoring position with the bat (to supplement your speed) you can do more for the offense.
I love sabermetrics; but baseball is about winning and losing; and winning and losing’s ultimate decisions come from the ability to score and prevent runs.