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From PCL Champions to NL Central Contenders

July 17, 2010

There seems to be a lot of talk on Twitter lately about what happens to Jon Jay once Ludwick is cleared to return from the DL. Based on this question from Derrick Goold and this response by Mozeliak, Jay will stay with the big club instead of returning to Memphis.  Any other answer would have been unacceptable as Jay has little else to prove in AAA with a career line of .295/.356/.424 in 728 ABs.  The rationale for him needing ABs at that level just isn’t true anymore.  But who will be squeezed from the big league club once Ludwick and Freese return?

Let’s take a quick and dirty glance at games played since July 2nd (day before Jay was recalled); a span where the club has scored 5.5 runs/game compared to their season long mark of 4.5 runs/game.  The infusion of youth seems to have ignited the offense.  Who’s been involved in runs scored?  Below is a table that portrays each position player’s contributions since July 2nd (not including yesterday’s game on 07/16).

Yes, I know it’s a small sample size.  Yes, I know that Runs and RBIs largely depend on what happens before and after the hitter they’re attributed to… so they are flawed descriptions of a player’s contributions… but I wanted to take a look at how Jon Jay, Tyler Greene, and Allen Craig have helped the offense to date… and I don’t think more meaningful stats like wOBA provide any more insight given their limited playing time at the big league level thus far.  And, generally speaking, the players with the most opportunities (plate appearances) have accumulated the most Runs and RBIs during this span of time.  But Jon Jay, Tyler Greene, and Allen Craig (one game’s worth of data!) have been right in the mix.

Below is a table that provides those three players’ 2010 stats at AAA, their 2010 MLB numbers, and the players most likely on the chopping block come time for Freese/Ludwick to return from the DL.  Next to Craig/Jay/Greene’s MLB numbers is their MLE (minor league equivalency) which takes their AAA numbers and translates them into what they should be given the same amount of playing time in a neutral MLB setting (thanks to this awesome tool).

Memphis Redbirds
Player AB .AVG .OBP .SLG
Craig 250 .308 .370 .520
Jay 165 .321 .394 .491
Greene 254 .291 .362 .465
Craig 22(250) .091(.268) .160(.316) .091(.434)
Jay 70(169) .386(.280) .403(.330) .614(.414)
Greene 56(254) .286(.254) .344(.302) .464(.389)
Low-Hanging Fruit
Winn 61 .262 .324 .377
Miles 39 .333 .372 .385
Stav 90 .256 .295 .344
Boog 221 .190 .257 .281

Despite his putrid offense to date, I think it’s safe to say that Boog is protected since he is out of options.  He’d have to clear waivers before returning to AAA and I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening.  Given his defensive upside, some team would gladly assume his near minimum contract.  Winn’s numbers are pretty pedestrian but he’s been slightly better against RHP (.278/.362/.400) and according to UZR (where he’s spent most of playing time in recent years), he’s been in the positive in RF since 2006.  Aaron Miles has managed to be a roughly average MLB player (1.9 WAR) once in his career (2006).  He’s NEVER had a positive UZR/150 at ANY infield position where he netted more than 100 chances in ANY year.  And there’s no reason for a team to carry five middle infielders.  He shouldn’t be on the team.  That leaves us with Stavinoha.  Despite the reputation that he seems to have gained with casual Cardinals’ fans (Nick the Stick!), Nick Stavinoha  is not a HR threat off the bench in late inning pinch-hit situations.  His slugging percentage is lower than Aaron Miles; a truly impressive feat.  The answer seems clear to me that Aaron Miles and Nick Stavinoha should be the ones to go.


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