Players WAR values that are being plagued by poor hitting.

A couple of days ago I wrote about players WAR values that are being plagued by poor defense. Today, we will see players that are at the opposite end of the spectrum. These players are like outstanding or good defensively but below average or worse offensively. Again, to get an accurate reading on their defensive abilities, we will take the last three years of fielding runs, as well as batting runs and WAR data.

Franklin Gutierrez: Past three seasons, -3.4 batting RAA, 56.9 fielding RAA, 10.3 WAR
Gutierrez has been one of the best, if not the best, defensive player in baseball over the past three seasons. Remember that he is playing most of his innings in CF which makes it that much more impressive. As evidenced by last season, when Gutierrez is above average on the offensive end he can put together a 6.1 WAR season. His increase in offensive value equaled about 1 extra win due to the increase in replacement and batting runs. Gutierrez walk rates have improved this season but he still has below average power for an OF’er. His lack of power is ultimately hurting his wOBA which is adjusted for park to create batting runs above average. On the bright side, Gutierrez is just 27 years old so he could develop some power in the near future to help his overall value.

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Past three seasons, -6.3 batting RAA, 17.9 fielding RAA, 7.2 WAR
Adjusting for park and using batting runs above average is especially important in this case because he has spent his whole career in PETCO and in the old Oakland Coliseum. That doesn’t change the fact that hes been a below average offensive player. He walks only 4.6% of the time for his career. His slugging and ISO are in line with the league average so his failure to walk is hurting his overall value. Kouzmanoff’s non-walk wOBA over the last three seasons (this does not include IBB’s and HBP’s) is .324 and the league average non-walk wOBA is around .318. So once Kouzmanoff gets the bat on the ball and in play, his production is above average. If Kouzmanoff walked at the league average rate of 8.6%, his wOBA over the last three seasons would be roughly .370! He could legitimately be a 3-4 WAR player consistently if he only showed more patience at the plate.

Michael Bourne: Past three seasons, -18.7 batting RAA, 19.3 fielding RAA, 6 WAR
I think that Bourne is becoming one of the leagues most under-appreciated players. If you look at the WAR leaderboard you won’t see his name, but remember that wOBA and batting runs DO NOT CONSIDER STOLEN BASES! He is extremely efficient on the bases with a CS% of 18%. So that’s why he doesn’t appear any even remotely close to the top. He also showed that he could put up a 4+ WAR season in 2009 when he is playing above average offensively by putting up a .342 wOBA in 2009. He has been great defensively over the past three years in CF but he is not a great hitter and thus has given almost all of his value back in WAR. However, Bourne’s walk rate is above league average and he could use his speed to his advantage by legging out XBH to increase his wOBA and batting value. Just by being league average in the hitting department, he could probably net an extra win in value this year.

Carlos Gomez: Past three seasons, -37 batting RAA, 26.1 fielding RAA, 3.4 WAR
Gomez is probably the most extreme case that we have looked at. It doesn’t even really matter that hes a good fielder because he gives all of his value back AND more due to his atrocious hitting. He only has a positive WAR over the past three seasons due to replacement runs and the positional adjustment. Gomez is still just 24 years old so he might he a guy who could eventually be a league average hitter during his prime years. However, at the moment he isn’t even close to being league average and you wouldn’t be incorrect in saying that he doesn’t even deserve a starting job due to his horrible offensive numbers.

Overall, I noticed that these guys that are being plagued by poor offense are the speedy, young, and low caliber power, CF guys (except for Kouzmanoff). This makes sense because poor power numbers are not going to equate to a high wOBA. However, guys like Gutierrez and Gomez have room to grow offensively. The only question is, will their defense still be in top form once/if they become more polished offensively? Again, im sure that I could have dug deeper so please feel free to add or talk about any more examples.

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