Sometimes a rumor comes out of nowhere and surprises you a little bit. When I read that the Blue Jays and Phillies were potentially discussing a Joey Bats for Dominic Brown trade (that has since been debunked) my initial thoughts were, “that’s all we could get?”.
Brown is a fine player, only 26 years old and coming off a breakout season where he swatted 27 HRs and slashed a respectable 272/324/494. Over 139 games Brown had a .351 wOBA and was worth 1.6 WAR. Pretty solid but I think the notion that he is about to become an ‘elite’ slugger are probably misplaced.
Bautista had another “off” year yet still slugged 28 HRs, slashes 259/358/498 and in only 118 games was worth 4.2 wins. In other words Bautista is still a monster when factoring offense, defense, arm and positional diversity. Brown offers little to no defense, can only play left field and isn’t an on-base machine. Brown also has a pretty one-sided platoon split as he doesn’t hit lefties that well.
Basically, Bautista is still a monster under a reasonable contract and I think the Blue Jays could do a lot better if they actually were to move him.
Dave Cameron made some great points in his piece today:
A common criticism of Jose Bautista’s future value is that he’s 33 and is trending the wrong way. Both of these statements are true. Over the last three years, Bautista’s wOBA has gone from .443 to .378 to .372, driven primarily by a significant reduction in power; his ISO actually declined for a fourth consecutive year, and has now gone from .357 to .309 to .286 to .239 since the start of the 2010 season. If you just extrapolate the line on its current path, Bautista begins to look much more like like an ordinary player over the next few years rather than the star he has been.
However, extrapolating trends into the future is often completely incorrect, because the reality is that performance often regresses back towards the average of a larger sample performance rather than continuing to move further and further away from a peak. Or, put another way, players who are labeled as “trending downwards” often have a very good performance in their recent history which should continue to inform our opinion of what they will do in the future.
Just like old players can have “fluke” seasons, so can young players, only when a young player has a fluke season, it’s usually called a breakout instead. Maybe Domonic Brown really did take huge sustainable steps forward last year, but history suggests that it’s probably more prudent to expect him to maintain or regress than it is to improve yet again. Just like Bautista shouldn’t be expected to linearly trend downwards, taking Brown’s 2013 performance and forecasting upwards from there is also a mistake.
As stated previously the Jose Bautista rumor season is just starting. Stay tuned.