Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Can We Pump the Brakes on Travis Shaw?

I'm going to start this with a question, and I want you to answer it honestly.

How good do you actually think Travis Shaw is?

I ask this because people seem to think he's Mike Schmidt. I hate to be the one to break it to you. He's not. That's certainly not a knock on Shaw. There's only one Mike Schmidt. But, it should be a knock on the people who seem to think they've found another one.

Travis Shaw is having an amazing spring. He had a darn good September too. But, people seem to forget Spring and September numbers don't actually count for anything. So far he's been excelling at competition slightly better than AAA level. We're going to make decisions based on that? 

But, some people want to do exactly that. They think Shaw should be the starting third baseman, and not Pablo Sandoval. Let's explore that a little bit.

Pretend you actually care about September statistics. (You know, like the ones that insisted Kevin Maas was the next Mickey Mantle.) How did Shaw do last fall? I see he performed to a 115 OPS+. That's a pretty good number. Know what Pablo Sandoval's career OPS+ is? 117. It doesn't take an expert to see that Panda's been better over his career than Shaw has been over his. 

Yes. yes. I know. Panda had an off year last year. And, you'd be right to mention it. But, I should point out that his numbers were a bit worse than his performance. I've already mentioned that he put the ball in play about as often last year as he did the year before, he just hit about 35 points lower. That could very well be dumb luck. In fact, baseball reference predicts that he will bounce back a little bit. A .264/.317/.404 slash. 

What do they predict for Shaw? A .270/.329/.468 slash. So, they predict that Travis Shaw coming off the month of his life will be marginally better than Sandoval coming off the worst (unluckiest?) season of his.

That's not good enough for me.

If I'm going to replace a guy who has had an eight-year history of good performance, I'm going to need more than replacement level to get him out of there.

After all, the Sox will need Panda in the playoffs!

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