Since my last post was about Kevin Towers’ trade history, I wanted to write more about the most important trade Kevin Towers has or will ever make. The four main pieces of this trade were Chris Johnson, Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and Justin Upton.
I’d like to take on Chris Johnson first. A lot of Diamondbacks fans look at Johnson’s batting average this season and get a little heavy hearted because we let him go. Fair enough, but there is so much more to a player than his batting average, and I’d like to break that down here. I’ll do a full break down of Martin Prado next, as for all intents and purposes he filled the void that Chris Johnson left.
For the 2013 season, Chris Johnson is posting a slash line of .326/.462/.824. He’s hit 10 homeruns and driven in 58. He has shown mild versatility by filling at 1st base eleven times, and playing the remaining 101 of his starts at his natural position of 3rd base. Since his time at 1st base is limited, and no Diamondbacks fan would want to replace Paul Goldschmidt with Chris Johnson, I’m only going to break down his defensive metrics at third. At 3rd, he’s committed thirteen errors in 171 attempts for a fielding percentage of .944, which is atrocious. In his defense, his RF/9 (Range Factor for every 9 innings played) is 10.19, which is well above the league average of 9.44, which means he gets to more balls than the league average third baseman, which gives him the opportunity to make more mistakes. He holds a dWAR of -0.6, meaning he is over a half run WORSE than the league average third baseman in terms of defense. However, his WAR is 1.6, which is decent, and says he is worth 1.6 wins over a replacement player over the course of a season. However, since he is costing his team -0.6 wins per season on defense, we can surmise that his overall WAR is about 1.0, just above replacement level. As a comparison I’m going to use Pablo Sandoval of the Giants, since we all know he’s a below average player, and his weight inhibits him from doing much on the defensive side of the ball. To throw out the same numbers, the Panda’s slash line is .270/.394/.721, which is terrible for a guy that supposedly hits for power and average. Pablo, like Johnson, also has ten homeruns, but has driven in 64 guys, a few more than Johnson. I know as well as the next guy there aren’t many Diamondbacks fans that like Pablo, and even the Giants fans are turning against him and starting to realize he was a long overrated player, that probably needs to make the transition to the AL so he can DH. His dWAR is identical to Chris Johnson’s at -0.6, and his WAR is 1.3, so he’s only slightly worse than Chris Johnson as a whole player. Chris Johnson’s oWar (Offensive WAR, which does not include any defensive value) is 2.4, while Sandoval’s is 2.0. As you can clearly see, Chris Johnson and Pablo Sandoval are league average third baseman, and neither of which bring to the clubhouse what Martin Prado does. However, Chris Johnson is batting .340 with RISP. Just for giggles, I bring to you, for your judgement, a slash line of .358/.681/1.130, an oWAR of 8.6, a dWAR of -1.3, a WAR of 7.0 with 43 HR and 130 RBI. A player batting .419 with RISP, a player whose OPS jumps to 1.40 with RISP. I’m sure it’s already obvious that I’m talking about Miguel Cabrera, and there is nothing average about him.
Next, I bring to you Martin Prado, as promised. Prado is batting only .277 with RISP, but we have to keep in mind that he struggled mightily during the 1st half of the season, hitting only .253 before the ASG. Since the ASG, in 155 ABs, his slash line has increased from the Pre-ASG .253/.365/.668 numbers to an eye-popping .355/.548/.948. In other words, his second half slash line is much, much better than that of Chris Johnson’s entire season. Prado also has 71 RBI and 13 HR, and can play multiple positions above league average. His oWAR is 1.8; dWAR .8; WAR 2.4. Because of his very weak first half, his oWAR is still below that of Johnson’s, but combining all his numbers proves to any educated fan that he is much more valuable Chris Johnson, and has been even while underperforming at the plate. He’s played 3B, 2B, LF, RF, and SS for Arizona this year, 98, 29, 18, 18, 1 games at each position, respectively (only playing 1 inning at SS, and not having a ball hit to him). His RF/9 at each position he has played is below league average, but at 3B and 2B he maintains a solid fielding percentage in the higher .900s. This guy is a catalyst and a game changer, and Chipper Jones himself said he couldn’t imagine (and didn’t want to) the Braves clubhouse upon his departure – that’s how important he was on and off the field in Atlanta, and nothing changed when his uniform did. Martin Prado is respected around the league, and is an above average bat and baserunner, with baseball smarts enabling him to do many things on the field with a great rate of success.
Justin Upton was a streaky player for Arizona, and many fans (myself included) loved him, and not necessarily for his play, but for the fact he gave his all – even though this fact is highly debated throughout our fan base. This year in Atlanta, not much has changed, with the exception of his uniform color and the number on his back. He’s still streaky and an iffy defensive player in the OF, but seems to be well liked by the fans in Atlanta. His .265/.477/.835 slash isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either, and at this point I highly doubt he will ever develop into the 5-tool player Arizona (and many scouts) saw him as when they drafted him number 1 overall in the 2005 first year player draft. He’s hit 24 bombs and driven in 64 this season, all while playing the corner outfield positions or DH’g during interleague affairs in AL ballparks. His oWAR is a phenomenal 3.1, but his dWAR is a dismal -1.6, as he struggles to make routine plays. Sadly, there is no argument for his range to defend his poor defense, as he is well below league average at RF/9 1.89 to a league average of 2.08 out of RF. He defends LF slightly better than league average, as the lgRF/9 (league average Range Factor per 9 innings) is 1.82, and he posts a not so dazzling 1.84. On his side though, in 257 innings in RF, he has yet to record an error, seeing 54 chances. In LF he’s had 165 chances in 787.1 innings, and recorded only four errors. During his last couple of years in Arizona, his RF/9 was greater than league average, indicating he was getting a lot more balls in our OF than he is in Atlanta. Something tells me Freddie Gonzalez told him to tone it down a bit so he limit his number of mistakes and not injure himself so often. His WAR as a total player is 2.1, which is pretty good, and he has definitely been a huge part of Atlanta’s run this season, as they have a fourteen game lead over the Nationals, with a 82-52 record, thirty games over .500. The big complaint in Atlanta last year was their inability to score with RISP, and both Upton and Johnson have seemed to help them fill their voids in this department, although he’s only batting .244 with RISP.
Randall Delgado, in my opinion, is the player that was most coveted by Towers in this trade, even though nothing ever would’ve happened without Prado coming over as well – and that was made clear. Delgado is 4-5 with a 3.67 ERA. For those of you that are still stuck on W/L record, in his five losses, he gave up 2, 2, 3, 3, 1, and 5 earned, one of those losses was not a start. Deglado has started fourteen games in a Diamondbacks uniform, nine of them have been QS (Quality Starts; 6IP or greater with 3ER or less). Like it or not, the guy has been absolutely filthy in a Diamondbacks uniform. His first appearance in a Diamondbacks uniform was out of the pen, in which he pitched two innings, gave up two runs, and got the loss. I’m not one to really believe in Pitcher’s WAR, but his is .5 and in my opinion he is much more valuable than half a game.
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