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PIT/PA Watch

May 15: 3.55
Season: 3.61
NL Average: 3.73
Cubs' NL Rank: 15th

Cubs Season Record 22-15 (--)

This Series
May 14-May 16

Cubs Sweep 3-0



Final Score: 6-1

Final Score: 7-5

Final Score: 4-2


Next Series
May 18-May 20

AT

May 18: Clement (5-2, 2.78) vs
Schmidt (3-2, 3.79)


May 19: Zambrano (4-1, 1.82) vs
Rueter (1-4, 5.52)


May 20: Maddux (3-3, 4.44) vs
Hermanson (1-2, 4.67)



Last Series
May 11-May 13

Dodgers Win 2-1



Final Score: 7-3

Final Score: 4-0

Final Score: 7-3


Know Your Enemy - The Series
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Part 2 - The Pirates
Part 3 - The Brewers
Part 4A - The Cardinals - Position Players
Part 4B - The Cardinals - Pitching and Bench
Part 5A - The Astros - Position Players
Part 5B - The Astros - Pitching and Bench

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 Archives
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
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11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
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03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Greener Patures?

Trolling through the rags this morning, I noticed this quote from Todd Walker in a Chicago Tribune piece:

"I'm hoping to stick with this team for a long time," Walker said. "If after this year [Moises] Alou is not back, maybe I'll have an opportunity to play left. If [Mark] Grudzielanek is not back, I'll have an opportunity to play second. For me, personally, it's a good deal. It gives me more options, and it gives them more options. As long as I hit, I'll be all right."

It seems that Todd got his first chance to play the outfield yesterday, spending five innings in left and getting nary an opportunity to use his glove. The quote just illustrates how anxious Walker is to play for a winning team, this team specifically, and his willingness to do what it takes to make himself a valuable commodity.

I must say, I like the chutzpah. This is the type of player I think all fans want to have on their club. He just wants to get out there and play; play hard, and win. There's nothing wrong with that, and as he says, all he has to do is hit. But does he hit enough to justify getting extensive time in left?

Walker's 2004 PECOTA projection midpoint puts him at about 14.6 VORP. Here's the list of left fielders who beat out that number in 2003.

Player Team2003 VORP
Bonds SFN 114.6
Pujols SLN 97.3
Ramirez BOS 69.2
Jones ATL 48.1
Gonzalez ARI 47.3
Anderson ANA 40.6
Giles PIT 39.0
Mora BAL 37.9
Jenkins MIL 36.6
Berkman HOU 36.0
Floyd NYN 31.2
Lee CHA 25.2
Winn SEA 25.2
Alou CHN 22.6
Matsui NYA 22.5
Wilkerson MON 22.3
Catalanotto TOR 19.2
Everett TEX 17.2
Bigbie BAL 16.4
Ibanez KCA 16.3
Jones MIN 15.2

That doesn't look promising. Add in the fact that Mora, Giles, and Floyd all had fewer than 500 plate appearances, and the concept of "Todd Walker, Left Fielder" starts to look problematic.

Walker has a chance to be a great asset for the Cubs this year. He brings a left-handed bat with a bit of pop, and a fantastic willingness to try anything to help the team. Giving him the opportunity to be an Uber-Sub is a fine idea. Spotting him at various positions, particularly against right-handed pitchers, will give the regulars a chance to rest as well as using Walker's platoon split to advantage. Walker is hoping to stick with the Cubs for a long time, and if he's willing to continue in this vein in 2005, I'd love to have him on board. But he's no left fielder.

UPDATE: I realized after looking a little closer that VORP is adjusted for position, and so my comparison is a bit of apples and oranges. That's the good news. The bad news is the baseline for left fielders is considerably higher than the baseline for second basemen. Those players in the table above still outperformed Walker by a hefty margin, but instead of them being the only ones, there are even more.

According to PECOTA, Todd Walker projects to have an Equivalent Average of .257 in 2004. Among the 31 left fielders with 400 or more plate appearances in 2003, only 5 had a lower EQA. I may have gotten the details wrong in the work above, but the result is the same. Todd Walker shouldn't be a regular in left.

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Posted by Derek @ 9:50 AM

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