Campana did something in 2012 that no player in the modern era has ever done.
Oh boy. Kevin Towers does it again. In yet another attempt to add the maximum amount of grit possible to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Towers traded Jesus Castillo and Erick Leal to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Tony Campana.
Campana is about as gritty as it gets. He steals bases, plays good defense, and doesn't really do anything else. No really. Last season, he had no home runs, six doubles, 40 singles, and 30 stolen bases. He's probably best suited as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.
However, this post is not an analysis of the trade. It seems likely that it was a bad move, but I don't know what Kevin Towers knows. What I do know is that Tony Campana is a historically unique player - or at least, he was in 2012. See, after Dave Cameron tweeted this:
...I decided to do some investigation. I looked at all players since 1920 with a minimum of 150 plate appearances, an ISO less than .040, and a strikeout rate greater than 20%. Here's what I got:
|1966||Al Weis||White Sox||213||8.0%||23.5%||.032||27||8||-1.2||-0.1|
|2002||Wilton Guerrero||- - -||156||4.5%||20.5%||.029||29||-1.6||1.1||-0.8|
|2012||Marlon Byrd||- - -||153||3.3%||20.3%||.035||25||-0.5||-1.6||-1|
That's right. Tony Campana is the only player to strike out more than 20% of the time with an ISO under .040 who still provided positive value to his team according to fWAR. Yes, this means very little, but I find it pretty fascinating.
Campana's value came primarily from his high BABIP and exceptional stolen base success rate. Though his wRC+ was only 65, the fact that he stole 30 bases and was only caught three times provided him enough value to get over that replacement-level hump. Bravo, Mr. Campana. Bravo.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs