Compare & Contrast: A superficial glance at Center Field

I, Havoc.

Position: Center Field

2010 Innings breakdown: Drew Stubbs - 85%

                                            Chris Heisey - 10%

                                            Chris Dickerson - 3%

                                            Jim Edmonds - 2%

                                            Laynce Nix - 1%

2010 Composite batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

576

101

146

22

6

24

80

30

6

59

186

.253

.325

.440

.766

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.332

67.7%

9.0%

0.31

23.8%

5.05

2010 Composite NL average center field batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

580

84

150

28

5

15

61

23

7

56

128

.260

.330

.407

.736

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.309

77.9%

8.6%

0.44

19.0%

4.42

2011 Contract status:

Stubbs - not yet arbitration eligible

Heisey - not yet arbitration eligible

Dickerson - with Milwaukee

Edmonds - free agent

Nix - free agent

Advanced minor league depth:

Chris Burke - age 30, 674 OPS at AAA

Dave Sappelt - age 23, 902 OPS at High A, AA, AAA

Relative win increase, 2010 vs. 2009: +2

Brief summary of 2010: Drew Stubbs presented a tale of two seasons: for the first four months, Drew Stubbs struck out too much, had an OPS in the 680 range, and seemed to make shaky defensive errors at inopportune times.  If it was an improvement over the Willy Tavares era, it was marginal at best.  While Chris Heisey provided decent backup support with the bat, there was a clear drop-off when it came to defensive range.  In the final third of the season, Stubbs lit it up: 10 doubles, 9 home runs, 23 walks, 12 stolen bases, and 28 RBI.  Whereas much of the offensive storyline for the early part of the year centered around Joey Votto and Scott Rolen, August and September were about a big three of Votto, Jay Bruce, and Stubbs. 

Way too early knee-jerk outlook for 2011: If Stubbs is already at a 20/30 level, can he get to 30/30?  While providing Gold Glove caliber defense?  We tend not to get too down on strikeouts in these parts, but the only way Stubbs graduates to the next hitting tier is if he cuts down on the strikeouts.  Not mentioned in the superlative hitting numbers over the final two months of the season was Stubbs's 56 whiffs.  Stubbs was producing by sustaining a .420 BABIP over this two-month span, which seems an unlikely guarantor of future success.  The team has put their collective center field eggs in the Drew Stubbs basket, and he's going to get every chance to prove them right.  When he's on, there's not a more exciting player on the team.  Fans with dreams of 30/30 seasons are likely to be disappointed, however, as Stubbs will be prone to extended slumps when his swing isn't exactly right.

Bottom line: There's this feeling of paradox around Drew Stubbs, wherein he feels so much younger as a ballplayer than his age of 25 would indicate.  Similarly, his future was downplayed through his progression through the minors, while now that he's shown the ability to succeed at the major league level, the expectations have grown significantly.  It can be tough to project a player with 700 career at-bats, but we can use some generalities to guide us: 1) his speed and defense are not in danger of disappearing anytime soon; 2) Stubbs has shown a glimpse of power, which is a tool which tends to peak a bit later than other skills; 3) he's nearing an age where many players tend to peak.  I don't expect Stubbs to ever be a superstar, and when the downside of his career comes, I think things will get very ugly very fast.  We're not there yet, and we should be due 4-5 years where 2010 represents the floor, with 1 or 2 seasons where Stubbs is considered a borderline all-star.   Buy.

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