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Transaction Roundup: D-Rays, Dodgers Swap

I started out really liking the Mark Hendrickson/Toby Hall for Jae Seo/Dioner Navarro swap for both teams, but the more I look at some statistics, the less I like the deal for the Dodgers. Toby Hall is a capable enough backup catcher, so there are no worries there, and the Devil Rays did an excellent job adding talent by subtracting pieces they do not really need.

The real issue I have is with Mark Hendrickson. My first thought when I heard that Hendrickson may be moving to the National League was positive; after all, he would no longer have to face the Red Sox (2), White Sox (5), Yankees (4), Rangers (8), Tigers (9), Blue Jays (1), or Indians (3), and he'd be pitching for the Dodgers (6). By the way, those numbers in parentheses are the team's rank in Team Equivalent Average. The only top-ten teams Hendrickson will have to face in the NL are the Mets (7) and Reds (10), and he won't face them more than once or twice a piece.

As I started to look at the batted ball data, I noticed that Hendrickson's Line Drive percentage is well down from his established levels:

  • Hendrickson LD%
  • 2002: 18%
  • 2003: 26%
  • 2004: 19%
  • 2005: 23%
  • 2006: 11%
His GB% only rose 2.2% from last year's total, and his IF/F dropped 3.8%; combine that with the 12% drop in line drives, and that is a whole lot of flyballs. This is a problem in Dodger Stadium, which is extremely longball happy. Here are the Park Indices for Dodger Stadium from 2003-2005, courtesy of the Bill James Handbook:
  • Dodger Stadium HR Park Indices
  • LHB: 107
  • RHB: 106
  • Overall: 106
And for Tropicana over the same time period:
  • Tropicana Field HR Park Indices
  • LHB: 97
  • RHB: 86
  • Overall: 91
So in a park that deflates homerun totals, Hendrickson has allowed over one per nine innings (1.02 in 2004, and 1.15 in 2005 as well). Also, he is lefthanded, so that 86 park index against righthanders has been especially helpful for keeping his numbers down. The switch to the National League might be enough to make Mark Hendrickson a league average-ish pitcher, which is certainly something the Dodgers could use as they attempt to win the NL West, but there is also a very good chance he's going to have some issues with gopheritis. Sadly for Los Angeles, the data at hand points to the latter.

Of course, with Jae Seo moving from a homer happy park to one that befriends those with longball issues, the reverse can be said about Tampa's fortunes. They replace Hendrickson with a younger and less expensive pitcher with more upside whose longball issues should be negated in much the same way that Hendrickson's (mostly) were. Toss in Dioner Navarro, who is an obvious long term upgrade over Toby Hall -- or whatever other dredge they might have pulled from somewhere within the system or free agent market this winter -- and you have yourselves a nifty little pickup in exchange for spare parts. Well done Tampa.

On Edit: Just as an add's been mentioned elsewhere, but Hendrickson is also sporting a very favorable batting average on balls in play. Just something else to regress to the mean and cause anguish out west.