Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Vote For Herrera

Read an article over at the respected Purple Row website.

Why We Shouldn't Rely On Jon Herrera. byMattBerger

Berger starts by comparing Herrera to Yorvit Torrealba.
the same nitty grittyness singles that we all love, but the fact their best months that made Rockies fans fall in love with them were mostly mirages of what their true talent levels are, and that were better options below them and even in free agency the next offseason.
He then backs it all up with BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) and minor league stats. All a part of the equation no doubt, but weighed too heavily by way too many in my opinion.

My take...

I actually think Berger got the comparison right. Torrealba and Herrera do seem to share a lot of the same traits (though early in Herrera's career). I just think Berger has it completely wrong when he tries selling us on that being a bad thing.

First of all, I didn't fall in love with Yorvit Torrealba because he hit singles. I actually didn't fall in love with him at all, but I did respect the hell out of him and appreciated everything he gave the Rockies, which was so much more than freaking singles.

He was a leader. He was a clutch hitter. Well timed singles. When he did muscle up it was ALWAYS in a big spot. Late in a close game. Playoff game. Excelled in big spots. Did a really solid job receiving, even if throwing runners out wasn't a strength (due to shoulder issues).

He ended up pricing himself out of the Rockies range so they wisely moved on, but a comparison to Yorvit won't get me on your side of the argument when you're trying to convince me a guy isn't valuable.

By the way... if you think the San Diego Padres turnaround has nothing to do with Yorvit Torrealba, you're kidding yourself.  He's giving them the same clutch hitting and has actually regained strength in his throwing shoulder.  They love him there.

I haven't fallen completely in love with Herrera either, but man, I loved the energy and offense he added to the top of the order. That was something they weren't getting before his arrival. Between Fowler, Helton, Smith, Spilborghs, whoever they put up there seemed to struggle setting the table the first half of the season.

Herrera changed that. Even if they were these measley, wimpy singles, at least he was giving the team something to build on offensively. He was wreaking some havoc and giving the team a geniune pain in the ass for opposing pitcher's to deal with.

And his timing! It was Torrealbaesque in that he always seemed to reach base or drive in a run when the team needed it most. How about that game in San Diego? Or the HR in Florida? The hitting streaks. The diving stop in Cincinnati that preserved a 1-0 win.

Why is that not good enough? Why are stat projections more important than making visual judgments of a player's instincts and character. I don't get it. Never will.

So many talented, intelligent and winning baseball players wouldn't have jobs if GMs went strictly by the numbers, so I don't either.  I trust what I see, just as they trust what they see and what their scouts tell them.

I'm not going to suggest the Rockies put all their eggs in Herrera's basket at this point. They have evaluations to make on Eric Young and decisions to make on Clint Barmes before we get anywhere near that point, but I can't find fault in any Rockies fan loving what they see in Jonathan Herrera.



David Martin said...

Well said.

The thing about SABR guys that bugs me is that their moto seems to be "traditional numbers don't tell the whole story." Then they go out and invent a whole new set of numbers that don't tell the whole story and live and die by those.

There has to be an eye test. Anyone who has played the game or watched it enough knows that leadership and clubhouse presence is sometimes worth .100 points in the batting average. There is something to be said about the intangibles.

Mark Townsend said...

We're definitely in the same boat on that. It's always fun to look at stats and see how guys compare in certain categories, but to make it the basis of everything is completely misguided.

Oh well. Makes for good back and forth.