Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rowand's 2008 Performance and Implications for 2009

I've been searching for an explanation of Rowand's steep dropoff in production mid-season and was not ever able to locate one until now. At Baseball Analysts, Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker has devised a rather complicated and sophisticated system for projecting how a player should hit in the next season, using his Hit Tracker data, and wrote about it there.

As luck would have it, he projected Aaron Rowand's 2008 projection based on his 2007 data and came to the conclusion that he was hitting what he should have been hitting until mid-season, when he had a right quadriceps injury on June 6th (an injury I've been looking for but didn't find until now).

Lo and behold, that does appear to be the tipping point of the season for him. After going 2 for 5 in the next game, with a double, that was the high point for his OPS. In his next 3 games including that 2 for 5, he hit .250/.308/.417/.725, and for the rest of June after June 6th, he hit .217/.261/.313/.574. He slowly recovered in July and August before apparently suffering another injury (relapse?) in September, hitting a sad .217/.286/.253/.539.

Meanwhile, his Hit Tracker projection was .373 OBP, .507 SLG, .880 OPS, 25 HR which in comparison with his pro-rated stats thru June 6th of .396 OBP, .526 SLG, .922 OPS, 23 HR, is pretty darn close, probably would have been on target based on his April batting line, which was also pretty darn close too, .366 OBP, .500 SLG, .866 OPS, 15 HR.

His May was elevated and if he had continued hitting like he did in April, his overall numbers would have drifted to around the projection. It was pretty spot on in this case, and is pretty close to what I was expecting from him pre-season, I thought that a low 800 OPS, in the .825-to .850 range was reasonable for him, but even .800 in CF would be good for a CF.

Injury Bugaboo

However, Aaron Rowand has been pretty injury prone his whole career. It is not like Durham, who was never on the DL, EVER, until he started taking a permanent annual spot on the DL with us (we probably should have let him go free agent instead of signing him to a two year deal and gotten the two draft picks for him, in that great 2007 draft; but we needed a hitter behind Bonds and he was economical). Rowand has been significantly injured in at least 3 of the past 5 seasons. The only consolation is that he has alternated healthy years with these injury years and 2009 he is due to be healthy or at least be able to play most games in the season, though Bochy has already said that he's going to rest Rowand more often in order to give Schierholtz more starts, as well as keep Rowand fresher.

If he can hit like the HT projection says he can (it is park adjusted), that would be a huge plus to our offense (and would have been in 2008) for 2009 with the additions of Sandoval and Renteria plus the maturation of Fred Lewis. If he can hit as well as the HT projection, he would boost our offense by around 0.14-0.16 runs per game, or about 24 runs, which adds about 2.5 wins to the team. That could push us from being around .500 to being over .500 in 2009.

Now, if he can only stay injury free...

5 comments:

  1. I have to say I disagree with your Rowand stance - basically you decided you thought Rowand was better than his 2008 and looked hard to find facts to back that up, rather than looking at the facts first and coming to a conclusion based on them. "I've been searching for an explanation of Rowand's steep dropoff in production mid-season and was not ever able to locate one until now."

    Based on what I've looked at I can't be nearly as optimistic as you are...

    Hopefully you're right, though.

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  2. And I've been very open before this that I hadn't found any reason for optimism for his recovery in 2009. Until now.

    The fact is that even with his poor year in 2008, his career road numbers is roughly .800 OPS, much above what he hit with the Giants in 2008. That is very good for a CF and a good baseline for what to expect from him as a Giant.

    In addition, if it was a fluke him hitting .900 OPS in previous years, then 1) he wouldn't have had two seasons of that, nor 2) he wouldn't have a few months of that in 2008 and in 2006 (if I got the year right on that one). Nobody flukes into 900 OPS on a regular basis.

    But there have been a number of Giants fans who ignore such facts and just denigrate Rowand constantly.

    So I feel a need to provide information counter to that, because I think he was a good acquisition and will hopefully prove to be one, much like how many people were totally down on Winn after his contract and after he bad year after the contract, but now he is revered by many.

    But I have never ignored the facts, it is the people who have been putting down Rowand who have been ignoring the facts and drawing their own (wrong) conclusions.

    Anybody who reads me regularly here and on El Lefty Malo and McCovey Chronicles and elsewhere know that I look at all angles, good or bad, on the situation and then give my conclusions. You just happen to come mid-way in my ongoing commentary on Aaron Rowand.

    So yes, I have a hypothesis and am providing data supporting that. I also provide information that counter my position whenever I run into it, I do not hide from the negatives, I want a complete picture of what we are dealing with so that we can make a good conclusion on what we can expect in the future. I am not fixated on the Giants doing well, I am fixated on knowing how good or bad the Giants will be going forward.

    I've had friends who told me the Giants were going to do well, and I would tell them, um, no. I've also seen people who think the Giants are going to be the worse team in the history of the franchise and told them, um, no.

    If I don't think you have the right view, I will tell you and explain why I hold that opinion. If you can provide what I consider to be good facts, then I will change my mind. But one person's fact is another person's opinion, so I don't always buy what others are saying.

    I also understand that some stances are opinions and let them go, it is when I feel I have facts that counter that opinion and they don't get it that gets me going. But regular readers know that already. :^)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the same methodology you used to explain the season Matt Morris had with the Giants. Sometimes injuries are not the prime cause of a player's suckitude. Certainly was true in Morris' case. I think the same thing is true here in Rowand's case.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Doesn't mean I'm wrong now. Also the same methodology I used to say that Winn should be OK too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And who is to say that injury wasn't the cause of Morris's decline? How the heck did he break his ribs and not know about it until later? Maybe he just had another injury he didn't want to talk about...

    ReplyDelete

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