Monday, June 23, 2008

Willingham Healed. The Hammer is Back!

How long have we been awaiting Josh Willingham's return? Since the ides of April, practically, which would be the appropriate month for a baseball soothsayer (see Caesar, Julius and Shakespeare, William for more details). Okay, it's really been since April 27th...only 12 days off.

Just how good was Willingham before back trouble sent him to the sidelines?

He was hitting .341/.406/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 6 HRs, 16 RBI, and 16 runs scored. Imagine what those numbers could do for the Marlins offense now.

The bigger question, of course, is how his return will affect the playing time of others. Luis Gonzalez will assuredly be the one who suffers most, but expect Luis to still get a fair share of playing time. Willingham will probably rest every few days to lower strain on his back, and Gonzalez could get some starts in right field over Jeremy Hermida (what a great defensive alignment that is...Willingham-Ross-Gonzalez...easily the worst in baseball).

Should Gonzalez be given the starts over Hermida? Let's break down their numbers:

Gonzalez: .274/.357/.415, 5 HRs, 29 RBI. Of note: With runners in scoring position, he's batting .357.

Hermida: .272/.330/.434, 8 HRs, 37 RBI.

Their numbers are basically about even, with Hermida the better defensive player and the one with more upside. As much as I've enjoyed Gonzo, he's the odd man out.

1 comment:

Frank A said...

Tough decision there... Do you go with the seasoned veteran and let a guy with great potential lose confidence and/or get rusty by having him only get spot starts?

Or..

Do you go with a young guy whom we have yet to see much from (other than last year's second half) and let an experienced bat who comes through in clutch situations sit on the bench?

Well, I am not gonna sit here and make that decision (not that it would matter much what I say), but I think it's interesting to look at a couple of other stats when comparing the two: Walks vs Strikeouts.

Hermida has 64 SO (third on the team) to his 20 BB. This equals 3.2 strikeouts to every one of his walks

On the other hand, Gonzalez has only 26 SO to his 29 BB. Much better SO to BB ratio there (less than one strikeout per every walk)

This should explain Gonzo's better OBP and OPS numbers. My vote is to platoon them at equal time until Hermida shows some better numbers. However, if Gonzo shows better numbers, I still don't think he should take the majority of the starts due to the fact that Hermida is a potential long-term player and Gonzo is not.

It's too bad that they're both lefties... if they batted from different sides of the plate, then they could split starts depending on the matchup of the day.

My guess is that Gonzo is gonna get plenty of playing time with Hermida needing a wakeup call and Hammer needing rest.

I guess we'll have to see what Fredi does.