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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Vlad, the Only Slightly-Less-Intimidating Impaler

When the Angels picked up Kelvim Escobar, one of the reasons I was immediately impressed by the acquisition was Escobar's splits on Astroturf (5.51 ERA) vs grass (2.84). Well, perhaps we should have been thinking the same way about Vlad once we found out we got him. Peter J. White in his Mariners Musings blog brings up a good point about Vlad's turf splits. His OPS is a full .096 points worse on grass, nothing to be sneezed at. Yet, White finally concludes that
A more careful inspection reveals that there is essentially no difference in Vlad's game regardless of the stadium. He hits for extra bases in 14% of his at bats both on turf and indoors, 12% outdoors and 11% on grass. He walks in 11% of his at bats both on turf and outdoors, 10% indoors and 9% on grass. He strikes out in 13% of his at bats in each circumstance. The differences are negligible. The difference in his batting average between turf and grass is .020. That's 20 more hits in 1000 at bats, or 10 over the course of a typical 500-at bat season, or roughly one every two weeks.

Unfortunately for the Mariners and the rest of the AL West, an outdoor stadium on grass isn't Vlad's kryptonite.

Fire Bavasi, FKA LeoneForThird, has a good preview of the AL West. He repeats an oft-heard mantra about the absence of Erstad's glove in center actually causing more harm than any good the team can recover by his playing 1B. With a flyball-happy staff (save for the aforementioned Escobar), the Angels might end up repeating 2003 at a very much increased cost. One thing I haven't read anywhere else is whether Eckstein's supposed inferior defense at SS will cause additional problems with a legitimate groundball pitcher on the staff. I'm not a roto-head by any stretch, though I confess it does intrigue me.


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