Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Evaluating Edgar

I've mainly switched this blog to Dodgers analysis, but today's Renteria signing had me wondering: was Renteria's 2004 the result of bad luck or decline?

The answer: decline.

Renteria did have some degree of bad luck in 2004. He's an excellent line drive hitter, and his .220 LD% would indicate that his .317 batting average on balls in play was about the low end of what should be expected. However, even if he'd accomplished his career high .348 BABIP from 2003, he'd hit .314/.348/.428; good, but not $40m, 4 years good.

Renteria simply saw a marked decline in every area of offensive performance. I looked at the five year period from 2000 to 2004, and 2004 was Renteria's worst year for BB/PA and HR/PA and his second worst year for K/PA. Conversely, 2003 was his best year for K/PA and trailed only 2000 for top marks in BB/PA and HR/PA. Additionally, his 2003 featured a career high in doubles/triples per plate appearance, while his 2004 returned to roughly his career average.

Put differently, in 2000 Renteria drew walks and hit home runs at a solid clip with a decent strike out rate. In 2001, the home run rate came down, the strike outs increased a tad, and the walks disappeared. In 2002, the walks regained a little bit, the K rate improved by a lot, and he added some doubles power. In 2003, the home runs, walks, K's, and doubles all improved substantially. In 2004, the plate discipline disappeared and some of the home runs came with it.

Defensively, Renteria is worth maybe a win above average, if UZR is to be believed. Offensively, he's either average (2004), outstanding (2003), or somewhere in between. Based on the shape of the data, I'd say odds are that he improves a little bit over 2004 but not by much; 25-35 runs above replacement looks about right to me. All told, Renteria's worth about five, perhaps six, wins above replacement. $10 million per looks kinda steep to me.

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