Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meet Eugenio Velez, Replacement Level Player:

I don’t really care for Eugenio Velez as a player. In fact in my book is kind of like the meatless vegetarian products at the grocery store, I don’t really like them, I don’t want them in my cart, but I understand that there may be a place for them in the store.

So in this story my cart is the major league ball club. I don’t really see the reason that baring injury to a number of players that he should be at this level. I do understand that he does provide something to the organization (the reason he is on the shelf in the grocery store). He is a nice guy to have in AAA in case the store misses the delivery of hamburger or chicken (the team bus gets in an accident and 3 outfielders need to go the hospital, or there was tainted food in the after game spread that gives half the team food poising) he is a contingency plan in my book.

Velez is as close of a definition of a replacement level player as there gets and for his career he has performed like one racking up a value of 0.5 wins above replacement over 213 career games. He has some tools but looks completely lost trying to use them.

He is a fast guy but speed isn’t really one of his weapons. He doesn’t beat out a lot of infield hits, only about 11.3% of hits in his career are the infield verity; compare this to Pablo Sandoval who is not exactly fleet of foot how has a 10.9% career number.

He isn’t exactly a great base stealer especially for someone with his speed, converting only 73% for his career when you expect a decent stolen base stealer to be around 80% and a good one getting close to 85-90%.

The one place that Velez’s speed makes up for his weaknesses is in the outfield and even there it helps to hide some of the bad routes and jumps that he gets. According to the advanced metrics he has been roughly average in the outfield with his best position being leftfield. He gets a UVR/150 score of 15.8 which translates to about 1.5 wins above replacement level for a season. He is not going to be an Omar Vizquel type player who can make a roster on his defense alone but this is one his less weak spots. Even this is no comfort for those that have seen him there but the speed definitely helps to make up for his mistakes and bad reads.

Now we come to discussing his bat, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal for him if he were better able to use his speed and defense as strengths but with these being just average the bat has to provide some value.

To make things short and sweet his not a good hitter and there is nothing in his minor league numbers to suggest that he could or should be. He is turning 28 this month and this is the prime of his career and not many players develop into good hitters this late. His batting average is well just slightly below league average .259 vs. .270, he doesn’t walk much only 5.6% for his career vs. 8.6% for league average (which would be a great advantage with his speed if he was better at stealing bases), he has a poor on base percentage .303 vs. .343 for the league average, and he doesn’t hit for much power sporting an ISO number .135 for his career and a slugging percentage of .394 vs. .430 for league average.

Taken together Velez’s numbers show a player who is not very handy with a bat in his hands. These deficiencies with his other skills doesn’t say major leaguer by any stretch of my imagination (Brian Sabean must have something magical working in his head to see a diamond buried really deep in this rough) yet he is with the big club and has played meaningful innings for the team the last few seasons.

If I were to make a case for the mismanagement of the Giants offense the playing time given to Eugenio Velez would be exhibit A-1. Send him back to the minors and call him up only if three of our outfielders are on the disabled list. He is a replacement level player and it is time the Giants management started using him like one.

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