Thursday, December 09, 2004

2005 Dodgers: Jeff Kent

Splashy.

Normally I feel like there's some insight I can add on a player, but in this case there's not much to say. Batting average wise, Kent's a good line drive hitter with a good strikeout rate since 2000, and his very good home run power combines with those factors to make him well above average in any year. At his peak, he drew a lot of walks and HBP's, but he's been below average in those respects over the past three years. His home run power is very good, and his doubles power is almost as good. He was helped out some by Houston's ballpark in 2003, but hurt by San Francisco's ballpark (I would write their names, but I frankly can't remember when each changed its name, although I know they both at one point had Enron logos), so his three-year totals are a pretty good indication of his ability. In Dodger Stadium, his home runs, doubles, and triples will all decline (though only the triples will be down by a lot), and his walk rate could decline a bit too, but his batting average should stay about the same. Given his age, a slight additional decline per year is reasonable, so I'd pencil him in for about .285/.345/.485 in 2005 and .280/.340/.470 for 2006. That's pretty much in agreement with Dam Szymborski's ZiPS, which has him at .275/.339/.485.

Kent's defense at second base is perhaps underrated at this point; based on the Prospectus rate stats, he's been substantially above average at second base in every season from 2000 to 2004 save 2003 when he was average. His defense could well equal that of Alex Cora, although I'd guess with his advanced age that Cora will be slightly better over the next two seasons. As a first baseman, where those in the anti-Choi crowd would like to see him played, he's been a pretty bad fielder in his limited playing time, and whether he could re-learn third base to be above average is an open question. I'd say it's most likely that the Dodgers will do something to obtain value for one of Alex Cora or Cesar Izturis and re-sign Adrian Beltre, and that's probably the intelligent way to do it.

How valuable is Kent? Based on the above projections, I'd argue that he's worth about one win above replacement for every twenty games he plays, meaning he'll be worth 6 wins at 120 games, 6.5 at 130 games, 7 at 140 games, and 7.5 at 150 games. Given his age, I'm gonna use my subjective number generator and guess he's good for 138, or 6.9 wins. That's pretty good for $8.5 million a season, although it doesn't by any means qualify as a steal. I don't think that's particularly good value, but that's not sufficient reason to be critical. Of course, given that I'd project Troy Glaus' value as 5-6 wins above replacement and he's just signed for more money than Jesus, this deal certainly looks good in the context of the Free Agent class of 2005. And if Kent is, indeed, a Dodgers fan, I'm happy for him.

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