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…. First in line?

The venerable El Lefty Malo notes that the Mariners released John Olerud and that the Giants might be interested. He also suggests that Olerud wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over JT the Outman. Well, I love the Lefty, but he’s out of his mind on this one. Sure, Olerud’s only got 5 home runs this season, and his numbers are way down, but he’s still better than Snow!!!, who isn’t even listed among the 24 first-basemen at ESPN’s MLB stats page. Here’s their 2004 comps:

Snow 51 games 175 AB’s 3 HR .269/.369/.417 .786 OPS
Olerud 78 games 261 AB’s 5 HR .245/.354/.360 .714 OPS

But a more reasonable assessment could be made by comparing their last three seasons, 2001-03:

Snow 1037 AB’s 22 HR .255/.365/.384 .749 OPS
Olerud 1664 AB’s 53 HR .291/.392/.451 .843 OPS

They’re not in the same league. And now that Olerud’s been released, I don’t see why the Giants wouldn’t try and pick up one of the best first-basemen in the game for the last decade at a bargain price, and he’s a lefty to boot.

Defensively, Olerud ranks as one of the most sure-handed first-basemen in history, having made as many as 10 errors in a season but once in a 16 year career. This year, he has one, (1) error in 602 total chances. Now, I’ve been convincing you for a long time that defense at first is over-rated, but that ain’t too shabby. Last season, Olerud won his third Gold Glove award, Snow has won six.

You think he’s done? Fine, maybe he is. He’s better than JT, and has been for his entire career. If you can get him for the waiver wire price, you’re a lousy GM if you don’t when your trotting the Outman out there every day (Not to mention the inexcusable error of batting him third, ever!!!!). For crying out loud, JT’s so bad, they’ve been playing Pedro Feliz at first! Sabean should pick up Olerud and Aurilia. They’re essentially free!!!

Editor’s note: Backtalkers, he is the Outman, I don’t give a crap about his .353 OBP. He has no power whatsoever, and the outs he contributes for the tiny number of runs he creates makes him first-base’s answer to Neifi Perez. First base is first and foremost an offensive position!! It’s where you put your big, slow, powerful hitter. It’s the last place you can hide a defensively challenged, good hitter (without the DH, of course). Snow is an absolutely pathetic offensive player, and it doesn’t matter how many great defensive plays he makes. He makes a huge number of outs to create a tiny number of runs; which makes him a losing proposition as a hitter.

And forget about what he actually produces and WATCH HIM. He has no ability to handle anybody’s fastball, he fouls off more batting practice fastballs than anybody in the league.

Editor’s note, Part II David Pinto writes about Jack Wilson, a player whose OBP is made up almost entirely from his batting average:

I always wonder about the long term viability of hitters like Jack Wilson. Through the 4th, he’s 1 for 1 with a walk to raise his BA to .334 and his OBA to .357. It was only his 12th walk of the year, and he’s never drawn more than 37 walks in a full season. It strikes me that players who hit but don’t walk should have a hole that pitchers can exploit. These players are surely swinging at pitches out of the strike zone; it seems to me that pitchers can move the ball farther from the plate and get these guys out.

I’ve always wondered about players like Snow, whose OBP is significantly higher than his batting average, despite his inability to pose any real threat to go deep. What I notice watching Snow, is that he fouls off tons of pitches, which I will admit, can be beneficial, but it also means that he cannot get good wood on the ball with any consistency, and this has been true for going on four straight years now. To me, Snow’s walks aren’t a testament to his good eye, pitchers aren’t nibbling against him; they are evidence of his inability to be a productive hitter, as he misses one pipeline fastball after another. That’s why we seem to see Snow have more of those epic ten-pitch at-bats than almost anybody. He can’t hit the pitcher, all he can manage is to foul him off til the pitcher finally misses four times.

Players like Snow expose just how many people in baseball still don’t pay attention to statistics. After years of no production, these “gamers” are still getting paid vast sums of money, and they are still not hitting, not producing runs, not actually contributing to winning baseball games. But these guys “play hard” and “get their uniforms dirty,” and they “hustle” and “know how to play the game.” That’s all smoke and mirrors. Real baseball players produce runs, they don’t just look like real ballplayers. They actually “are” ballplayers. Snow, the focus of this rant, is a replacement-level player who has been paid more than $25 million dollars over the last four and a half seasons to produce a paltry 44 home runs in something like 600 games. A real hitter at first-base, like say, Jim Thome, has hit that many in a single season, more than once.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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