Earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal broke the news that Marcus Giles is to be reunited with his brother Brian in San Diego on the strength of a one-year deal worth roughly 3.75 million dollars. There is also a club option for a 2nd year.
This offseason Giles was non-tendered by the Atlanta Braves after posting a disappointing .262/.341/.387 line at second base. Giles has often been regarded as one of the more underrated players and it didn't take long for the Padres to sign him and name him their starting second baseman for the 2007 season.
There are a couple questions presented with this signing.
Can Giles revert back to his above-average form, and can he do so playing at Petco Park? If so, is this move one of the offseasons best bargains?
To answer the first question, I took a look at his 3-year splits, specifically his batted ball numbers:
Using Dave Studeman's BABIP formula as expressed in this article, I'll use pBABIP as "Projected BABIP" of simply his BABIP you'd expect according to his batted-ball numbers. Here's what we find:
For the most part we can see that Giles has always been good for an above average BABIP by league standards. Whether though projection or actual performance, Giles is good for a .300+ BABIP which is comforting from a second baseman.
Things get a bit interesting however when you compare his '06 campaign to the previous two seasons. Giles, for the first time over this three year stretch, actually hit below his projected BABIP. In other words, according to his batted ball numbers, Giles may have just underachieved a bit and fell victim to bad luck. The isolated power was still below average, but Giles may have deserved a little more production than his overall numbers suggest.
There's also the Petco Park effect. As pointed out in a recent Hardball Times article, even with recent renovations made at the stadium, it's still far and away a pitcher's ballpark. It might be the friendliest park to pitchers in all of baseball. But will that matter to a line-drive hitter like Giles who doesn't build his game around home runs or hitting for serious amounts of power? What about Turner Field? How does it compare to Petco?
Looking at the chart it's quite easy to see that Petco Park has suppressed offensive production much more than Turner Field has over the last 3 seasons. It's reasonable to expect Giles to post below league average slugging and ISO numbers next season considering he'll be playing half of his games at hitter's hell in San Diego.
However Giles should still be a very valuable second baseman if he bounces back. He still features that slick glove and takes more than enough walks for second baseman. He's a good line drive hitter who is still a solid bet to hit at or around .300 every season and get on base at a .350+ clip.
This move also has other ramifications for the Pads. Rosenthal has speculated 10-year veteran Todd Walker will now find his way to the bench. In Walker the Padres have yet another 6th man to complement Russell Branyan, and Jose Cruz Jr. You have to like the depth their bench presents with Walker, Branyan, Cruz Jr., Terrmel Sledge, Kevin Kozmanoff and Geoff Blum.
I have to give GM Kevin Towers props for what he has done. He brought in a local boy in the 28-year old Giles who still carries a ton of upside in his game. Not only that, but he's paying Giles pocket change. And if things don't work out between Giles and the Padres, the club option doesn't need to be exercised.
So is Marcus Giles the steal of the winter so far?
You could make a very strong argument that he is. If Giles batted ball data remains consistent he should bounce back next season and post very productive numbers from a second baseman, even if he is playing half of his games at Petco Park.