Friday, May 8, 2009

Juan vs. Manny

Juan Pierre (or, God willing, Juan Pierreborg) will be taking over for the suspended Manny Ramirez in the Dodgers outfield, and for once, the baseball community agrees on something: Manny Ramirez is better as baseball than Juan Pierre (graph by Tommy Rancel of Beyond the Boxscore). Now, I don't mean this as a knock against Juan Pierre (though Pierre is very definitely a below-average big leaguer); Manny Ramirez is better than 99.9% of humans at baseball. But just how much production is LA losing for fifty games?

I took a look at both players' statistics dating back to 2000 (Pierre's rookie year), and I think the results speak for themselves. First off, Manny gets on base a whole lot more than Pierre does, mostly because JP is allergic to walks (a shame given his speed):

And of course, Manny hits the ball a whole lot harder than Juan Pierre does:

So even taking into account the fact that Pierre has only played in the NL and Ramirez has mostly played in the AL, JP gets absolutely crushed in the OPS+ department (notably, Pierre has only been above league average once in his career):

Pierre makes up a little ground with his fielding, but not nearly enough for him to be anything less than a tremendous downgrade for the Dodgers (not that I'm surprising anyone here):

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Manny is not the only piece in their franchise puzzle. They will still play good baseball without him, and probably good enough baseball to hold on to the division until he gets back. But Manny is the heart of the Dodger lineup, and replacing him with Pierre (especially if Joe Torre is foolish enough to bat Pierre in the leadoff spot) will hurt LA's production significantly. No, I'm not writing anything the baseball world doesn't already know, but the visuals really do hammer home the impact of a Mannyless Los Angeles Dodgers team.

But although making Pierre a starter again is a blow to the Dodgers, it could also prove to be a boon to both LA and Pierre himself. If JP can figure out how to improve his OBP (preferably by demonstrating an ability to take a walk or two), he could give his trade value a huge shot in the arm. A .320 OBP from a speedy guy with no power isn't going to turn any heads, but a .340 or a .350 OBP could make the difference between Juan Pierre returning to his role as baseball's best paid fourth outfielder and finding himself a starter in a new organization. Use these games well, Juan.


  1. This is a little rough but:

    Career WARP1: 86.3
    G: 2130
    Expected WARP1 for 50 G: 2.02

    Career WARP1: 23.0
    G: 1310
    Expected WARP1 for 50G: 0.87

    The Dodgers should expect to win one fewer game over that stretch.

    This is misleading of course because it is based on career totals and not current trends or run scoring rates or ballparks, etc. It's interesting to see though how difficult it is to add even a single win as an individual player.


    Check out the link above; Brendan Scolari of True Blue L.A. wrote up a nice treatment of the situation, and he and Caleb are pretty much in agreement, it would seem. I agree with the numbers, but still think 1-3 wins is pretty significant. Regardless, even my gloomier take on the situation (as compared to Caleb and TBLA, anyway; there's many a Chicken Little out there calling for Dodger doom) doesn't make me think the Dodgers will lose the NL West without Manny. Of course, if they end up a game or two out of the playoffs, we'll be hearing about it for a while.