Reconciling Disappointment, Part 1

Author's note: The following marks the first in a ten part series, seeking to recap the 2011 season on a position-by-position basis, while asking where the 12 win decrease from 2010 to 2011 came from.  Hard-hitting analysis will be noticeably absent, on account of me being the author.  Quick-and-dirty fluff will be the medium, with an eye towards high-level projections for the coming year.  If you remember a similar series last year, you have a good memory, and I ask that you not ruin the illusion of my creativity in the comments.  "What a fresh idea," you'll write.  Thanks in advance.  Also, last year I wrote up each position as though it were an investment option, with buy/hold/sell advice.  Hopefully you also took my advice to sell that literary gimmick; this year I'm imagining each position as a particular industry.  You'll probably want to sell on this one, too.  Position groups will be presented from least to most culpable.

Position: Second Base

2011 Innings breakdown: Brandon Phillips - 90%

                                            Miguel Cairo - 5%

                                            Paul Janish - 3%

                                            Todd Frazier - 1%

                                            Edgar Renteria - 0%

                                            Chris Valaika - 0%

2011 Composite batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

588

89

174

35

2

17

78

13

8

42

83

.295

.348

.449

.797

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.321

85.9%

6.5%

0.51

13.2%

5.09

2011 Composite NL average second baseman batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

585

72

151

28

4

12

59

10

4

47

105

.258

.319

.380

.699

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.297

82.0%

7.2%

0.44

9.4%

3.97

2012 Contract status:

Phillips - team option for 2012

Cairo - signed through 2012

Janish - arbitration eligible (1st arb year)

Frazier - not yet arbitration eligible

Renteria - free agent

Valaika - not yet arbitration eligible

Advanced minor league depth:

Henry Rodriguez - age 21, 841 OPS at A+, AA

Cody Puckett - age 24, 780 OPS at AA

Kris Negron - age 25, 607 OPS at AAA

Relative win increase, 2011 vs. 2010: +1

 

Brief summary of 2011: Phillips, coming into the year, was noted for his remarkable consistency.  I, in fact, wrote a piece exploring that very phenomenon in a different venue last off-season, ultimately concluding that players like Phillips (i.e. having a similar track record) can maintain the consistency for 4-5 seasons, but then drop off precipitously.  Instead, of course, Phillips threw down a career year, just in time for the team to evaluate a $12M contract option.   Warning signs abound, however.  Falling levels of power and speed indices were offset by a sharp increase in BABIP.  From at least one quantitative vantage point, the defense began to slip as well.

Way too early knee-jerk outlook for 2012: At some point, a person just needs to accept the role of being the bad guy and bring the heat.  If 2012 isn't a relative disaster for Phillips, then 2013 will be.  Since all signs seem to point to the Reds not only picking up Phillips's option year, but offering an extension as well, things could get ugly, quickly.  I see a decidedly non-zero chance that Phillips never posts a slugging percentage over .400 again.  With the strong 2011 Phillips had, there's quite some distance to go before he truly becomes a "bad" player, but the cost-benefit analysis of a longish contract extension would appear to be unfavorable.  Can Alonso play second?

Comparable industry: The fast food giants are neither great cuisine nor staples of a healthy lifestyle.  Take them away, however, and we'd certainly feel the loss of an enjoyable guilty pleasure.  They don't do everything well, but the Cokes and fries can make up for a lot.  As a centerpiece of your life, you'd be well served to bump up your life insurance coverage.  As a low-priority complement...the chains have their place, even if you have the gnawing feeling that all that salt and fat will eventually catch up with you anyway.

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