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"Fishing for a First Basemen"

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Peter Gammons tells us that the Red Sox are searching for a first basemen. He only gives one of the targets names so far though, in Conor Jackson. There was previously a line there saying that the Red Sox drafted David Murphy over Jackson back in 2003, but it has since been removed. I'd talk about Conor Jackson's impact on the Red Sox, but the D'backs do not plan on moving him for anything, so let's move on.

What options might the Red Sox have? There seems to be a lot of love for The Ghost of John Olerud in Boston right now, as Red Sox fans are quickly forgetting the early hot streak he put up before ineffectiveness set in for NY last year. Personally, I think the Red Sox should try to acquire Lyle Overbay if he becomes available.

Lyle Overbay 2004      
.301/.385/.478
AB: 579
HR: 16
2B: 53
BB: 81
SecAvg: .318
Iso: .177
VORP: 53.5
WARP: 6.9
EqA: .291
MLVr: .222

Massive doubles totals in 2004, and plate patience to boot, finishing with 81 walks. How did he respond in 2005, his second full season (well, thats the plan anyways):

Lyle Overbay 2005
.274/.411/.467
AB: 167
HR: 7
2B: 11
BB: 38
SecAvg: .419
Iso: .193
VORP:17.6
WARP: 2.7
EqA: .305
MLVr: .247

Kevin Millar has not put up this type of production before. His VORP, WARP, EqA, and MLVr from his three years with the Red Sox:

Millar 2003
VORP: 28.6
WARP: 4.9
EqA: .281
MLVr: 0.82

Millar 2004
VORP: 37.6
WARP: 4.2
EqA: .291
MLVr: .137

Millar 2005
VORP: 3.2
WARP: 1.3
EqA: .261
MLVr: -0.045

For those of you unfamiliar with MLVr, it is Marginal Lineup Value Rate. When plugged into a formula developed by Keith Woolner at Baseball Prospectus, it can tell you how many runs a lineup of average players and Player X would score. You first find out what a lineup of "Joe Average", as BP puts it, would score, than add Player X to the team and see the run scoring difference. To get a feel for the difference between Overbay's .247 MLVr score and Millar's -0.045 score, let's do the equation out. I'll use the American League's statistics, since the team in question is located there. The formula for this can be found here if your interested:

League Average AL Team 05': 772 RS
Average Team + Millar 05': 766 RS (-6)
Average Team + Overbay 05': 803 (+31)

The difference between these two is 37 runs offensively. How about defensively?

Millar 05'
Rate: 105 (5 runs above average per 100 games)
FRAR: 7
FRAA: 1

Overbay 05'
Rate: 111 (11 runs above average per 100 games)
FRAR: 9
FRAA: 5

Even though Millar is steadily improving at first base, he is no match for Overbay offensively or defensively.

Something else one should remember; the Red Sox are nothing even remotely resembling a league average lineup. The MLVr formula works on the theory that more PA with a better chances of success (off slugging or on-base) leads to more runs, which is why a player like Overbay who creates more opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates to come to bat and score more often rates so much better than Millar. With the Red Sox lineup allowing Overbay to get up more often, and he doing the same, then the effect may be even greater. The Brewers are at an odd impasse; .500 ball, not sure whether to buy or sell. They most likely will not see the playoffs this year, so I think they should attempt to sell off Overbay to the Red Sox at the deadline or a tad sooner when they feel Prince Fielder is ready.

Update [2005-6-8 11:57:10 by Marc Normandin]: When I said they will most likely not make the playoffs this year, I meant simply because the NL East is such a tight race, and the Dodgers should rise somewhat in the West again. The Brewers do have a shot at the playoffs, but I think I would rather wait for a sure thing in 2006 than risk 2005 and end up like the 04' Mets. Sorry if I offended anyone with my original statement.

Prince Fielder Nashville (AAA)
.257/.369/.486
AB: 214
HR: 12
2B: 13
SB: 3/6
BB: 35
KO: 52
SecAvg: .393
Iso: .229

Nashville is in the Pacific Coast League, which is hitter friendly, but Prince seems to be holding his own anyways. A .393 SecAvg is pretty good anywhere, and if it translated to a .300 SevAvg in the majors immediately I do not think we'd hear complaints.

What are everyone's thoughts on this? Who should the Brewers ask for? Should they attempt to dump any contracts or players on the Red Sox in exchange for Overbay? Is Prince Fielder ready for the majors yet?

[NOTE] Visit Astronomics, an Astros blog of a loyal reader at this site. I like it myself and plan on reading it some more, so do the same if your interested.