Wilson Valdez's Historic Season

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, September 29, 2010 12:14 PM | Comments: 0
Analysis, Posts

I don’t know how it was where and when y’all were growing up, but my high school pretty much stopped teaching new material around Memorial Day, even though we didn’t get out until the end of June. The last three weeks of school were dedicated to watching movies, sitting around chatting, and playing cards. My senior year, I took band and four AP classes, so after the AP tests and our spring concert were over in early May, I did nothing for the last seven weeks of school in five of my eight classes, to say nothing of the overwhelming force of senioritis.

With seven of the right MLB playoff spots locked up, this week has a definite “Last Month of School” vibe to it: we’re all just sitting around, happy to have the chance to relax, but looking forward to what’s to come even more. So in the spirit of end-of-the-school-year distractions, here’s one: Wilson Valdez could have done something historic this season.

Now, Exxon hasn’t been as bad as I had feared this season. When the Phillies replaced their injured offensive sparkplug and informal captain, Jimmy Rollins, with a man who had slugged .292 in 369 major league plate appearances, I feared the worst, but Valdez, mostly on the strength of his glove, has been pretty good. In 107 games, he’s hit .257 with four home runs and seven stolen bases. Don’t get me wrong: these are terrible offensive numbers, but considering his rock-bottom expectations and solid glove, I’ll take them. In fact, Baseball-Reference rates him at 1.3 WAR this season, and FanGraphs at 0.5 WAR–not ideal starter numbers, but satisfactory from a player like Valdez.

There is, however, one offensive category in which Exxon is putting up record numbers: double plays grounded into. Wilson Valdez grounds into double plays the way Weezer puts out new albums nowadays–often, indiscriminately, and sometimes with disastrous results.

Wilson Valdez is tied for 14th in the major leagues in GIDP, with 20. That might not sound so bad, but consider the following: the league leader in that statistic, Kansas City’s Billy Butler, has exactly 300 more plate appearances than Valdez (655 to 355). It’s not that Valdez is grounding into so many double plays–it’s that he’s doing it in so few at-bats.

In the DH era, a player has grounded into 15 or more double plays while not qualifying for the batting title 290 times. 29 of them have grounded into 20 (including two Hall-of-Famers: Tony Gwynn and Jim Rice). One needs 502 plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, and most of the players on the list came to the plate 400 times or more. Again, Exxon has only 355 plate appearances. So how many players have had 20 GIDP in 375 PA or less in the DH era? Two. Wilson Valdez this year and some poor sap named Eddie Williams who grounded into 21 in 325 PA for the Padres in 1995.

Let’s extrapolate, and place Valdez’s absurd GIDP rate in historical context. The single-season record for GIDP is 36, set by Jim Rice in 1984. Rice put up that remarkable stat in 708 plate appearances, almost exactly twice Valdez’s total. For those of you without a calculator handy, that’s one double play every 19.67 plate appearances. The career record is held by Cal Ripken, Jr., who grounded into 350 in 12,883 career plate appearances–that’s one every 36.81 PA. Valdez this season grounds into a double play every 17.75 plate appearances. Given adequate playing time, Valdez would demolish both of those records.

And how about this–he’s come to the plate with a runner on first and less than two out only 82 times this season. In those plate appearances, he has 20 GIDP, and only 18 hits. I’ll repeat that for the cheap seats: with a runner on first and less than 2 outs, Wilson Valdez is more likely to ground into a double play than he is to get a hit. “Dreadful” hardly does that statistic justice. I’m reaching into my bag of adjectives and coming out with words ordinarily used to describe war criminals, livestock rapists, and “We Built This City” by Starship.

Of course, he has turned 35 double plays in the field this season, so he’s making up for it at least somewhat. I guess the takeaway lesson from this is that when Wilson Valdez is in the lineup, expect outs to come in bunches. Just thought you might like to know.

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

  • JRoll is baaaaaaa-aaaack …. but won’t be 100 percent “until February.” http://tinyurl.com/23tworc

  • Posts: 0 Keegan

    Hey, Hurley is good stuff and Raditude isn’t nearly as bad as everyone gives it credit for. They cut a little loose for it but its still good-spirited and fun.

    And I <3 Wilson Valdez.

  • Posts: 0 Kate


    It NEVER fails! Someone has to sh*t all over everything with some unnecessary, gratuitous negativity.

    Without Wilson Valdez, we’re not in the playoffs, let alone NL East Champions.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    Dobbs almost never hits into double plays, primarily because he rarely makes contact, and when he does, it is usually a pop-up. The only nice thing I can say about Dobbs this year is he routinely provided a reason for me to explain the infield fly rule to my kids.

    The one big comment is “Valdez had only 355 ABs”. If someone told you in March that Wilson Valdez was going to get 355 ABs replacing Utley, Rollins, and Polanco, what would your over/under on wins be? 78? Maybe 82? Agree that there are too many GIDP, but in 355 ABs, only struck out 42 times, and has been rock solid on defense.
    Valdez 355 84 33 33 19 42 20 257
    Other* 345 61 25 33 21 67 3 191

    (Other is Dobbs, Castro, and Ransom – Dobbs owns a 3rd baseman’s glove, doesn’t know how to use it, Castro is comparable defensively, but doesn’t have the arm, Ransom is decent at 3rd, no so good at ss or 2nd).

    Valdez gets a free pass in my book for his D and not atrocious hitting.

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Wilson Valdez is a utility infielder. He is supposed to be a good fielder and a below-average hitter. In my opinion, he was a god’s-send this year as he filled in well for injured players. He hussled and was a genuine asset to this team. To expect more from him in his role in 2010 is assinine. He deserves an ovation.

  • Posts: 0 twc84

    Given that Valdez is usually batting 8th, when he comes up to the plate with a runner on first and less than two outs, doesn’t it make sense for him to bunt, thus ensuring that at the very least, the lineup gets turned over? Also, note that while he isn’t an especially speedy runner, he is a solid bunter and would probably be far less likely to bunt into a double-play than he would be to ground into one?

    The worst case scenario would be a bunted double-play. But the best case would be the top of the order starting the next inning, or better yet, the pitcher keeping the inning alive. Also, note that when bunting, you force the opposing pitcher (often times) to make a play, which can increase the chances of an error. I don’t have any stats to back up this theory, but it has to be worth a thought, considering the 20 double-plays to 18 hits data listed in the article.

  • Posts: 0 EHS Jeff

    Eastern High School – stopping teaching in mid-May? I can absolutely validate that, as I was there to experience it. Love to see the Vikings get their due on the message boards!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Thank you, Kate!!

    “Terrible offensive numbers” Really???????

    .257 isn’t “terrible” for anyone….let alone a utility guy.

    Seriously…some of you writers have to constantly over-analyze everything.

    Kate is right….Without Valdez this season is lost.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    Valdez’s OBP is .302

    The only Phillies with more than 100 PA who have a lower OBP this year are Greg Dobbs and Juan Castro (RIP).

    His fielding is a nice stop-gap, but he’s nothing special and is only a cult hero because he hasn’t been as God-awful as the rest of the bench bats not named Gload.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    And, frankly, I think it would be fun to laugh at this absurd rate of double playing. It’s a fun thing, not a “we’re dumping dirt all over Wilson Valdez” thing. I believe our reputations may be starting to precede us.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that…right now…for THIS postseason….I would rather see Valdez in there instead of J-Roll.

    Jimmy isn’t even close to being healthy. He said so himself. Valdez can more than hold his own.

    The infield is a problem. Nagging injuries to Polly and J-Roll…and only Valdez to really truly fill in. That’s why Dobbs (gulp!) may have to be on the roster.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Again….Without Valdez this year…and I don’t think the Phillies are where they are right now.

    As far as I’m concerned…I’ll call that “SOMETHING special”

    Sh*t on him if you must. But the truth is the truth, ex-Phrontiersmen, Paul and Michael.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    It’s true, the Phillies would never have won 94+ games without their barely-above-replacement utility infielder. You can’t find those anywhere else in the MLB!

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Wilson Valdez has a .660 OPS. That’s around 30% below league average. He’s hitting .257/.308/.358. He’s struck out more than twice as many times as he’s walked. He’s grounded into 20 double plays in 355 PA.

    Yes, he’s been an acceptable fill-in while Rollins has been down. Yes, he has a good glove by all indications. It’s patently ridiculous, however, to say that the Phillies would be anywhere but where they are now without Wilson Valdez. This is because there are tons of Wilson Valdezs in the league — the shortstop position is glutted with well-below-average-bats and good defenders. That’s the nature of the position. You can find them on the waiver wire, in the minors, and as throw-ins with trades.

    The point of all this is not to be overly-negative, or dismiss Wilson Valdez’s contribution, or to “over-analyze” or whatever else you think. The point is that, I’m sorry Chuck, but you and Kate are tremendously overrating Wilson Valdez. By a lot. A whole lot. This seems to happen perennially in Philadelphia, especially when the broadcasting crew and media take it upon themselves to heap undue praise on any backup that gets significant playing time, which they certainly have in Valdez’s case.

    Valdez has held his own on the defensive side while Rollins has been out, but he is far from irreplaceable. And the Phillies would be right where they are now without him, on the backs of a tremendous starting rotation and the talents of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz, etc.

  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    Wilson Valdez has been a bit above average fielder, and a horrible batter. He has far exceeded expectations, but only because expectations were so low.

    If you looked up Replacement Level Player, you’d see a picture of Wilson Valdez. If you looked up Wilson Valdez, you’d see a picture of a scorebook with 6-4-3 written in it.

    Anyone remember Inning-Endy Chavez? Wilson Valdez is literally that guy but an infielder.

    Except he’s a worse hitter.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    And I’m not saying Valdez is a star, either.

    But he deserves a lot more respect than this waste of time article gives him. He’s the most valuable utility player of the year.

    Like I said, without Valdez, we’re not even in the playoffs.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Paul, if you honestly believe this is a “fun thing,” and not “we’re dumping dirt all over Wilson Valdez” thing, you must be reading humor into a piece of writing that contains none.

    Myself, Kate, Chuck, Bart Shart, and bfo_33, don’t seem to see any “fun” whatsoever in bashing a reserve infielder–originally signed to a minor league contract, no less–who was called upon more than anyone could ever have expected and did the job admirably.

  • Posts: 0 Publius

    Oh my god people are actually arguing that Wilson Friggin Valdez is the reason the Phillies made the playoffs. Forget the fact that the waiver wire is full of guys who have Valdez’ skills (only sans the GiDPs) such as Felipe Lopez, Jose Lopez, Willie Bloomquist, Josh Wilson, etc.

    Valdez should only see ABs in the postseason in extra-inning games when the rest of our entire bench has already been burned by Cholly’s hilarious-yet-reliable mismanagement of assets.

    Also, are we seriously using batting average, and an anemic .257 batting average at that, to justify Valdez getting at bats?!

    Also also, Ben Zobrist and his 3.0 WAR easily wins as most valuable utility player. Valdez’s WAR is 0.5. Barely above being a replacement player.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    If we can’t pick on a guy for something like this, there is probably nothing critical that we can write that would sit well with you.

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Valdez last ten games-
    5 walks and 9 hits -14 for 31- That’s an OBP of .451 Paul. I could care less about his historic stats the rest of the year, the ones that matter are the ones posted at the end when we needed help because JRoll went down. Oh and I think there was a concurrent 11 game winning streak in which the team committed exactly zero errors in there somewhere. Defense up the middle in MLB is a critical stat for championship teams and Wilson Valdez was part of that. Oh and, interesting use of the word “y’all” Michael.

  • Posts: 0 Publius

    Hooray for using arbitrary end points, small sample sizes and hilariously bad stats (errors? really?!!) to “prove” a point!

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Hey George I need to perform further scientific analysis but preliminary results indicate that you are the Most Serious Person on the Internet.

  • Posts: 0 Sam

    Wilson Valdez is the savior of this season. Enough said

  • Posts: 0 Sam

    That fireball arm is incredible one of the best i have seen. you can hang some laundry on his throws

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    If you take a glance at J-roll’s 2010 and Valdez’s 2010 stats, you’ll see that they’ve put very similar numbers… Now add to that the fact that J-roll isn’t and won’t be 100% healthy this postseason… and I feel like the safer bet is to go with Valdez in our NLDS games (unless J-roll shows some signs of life in the next few games). On the other hand, J-roll has the *it* factor and some magic postseason moments in his record.

    Plus, something nobody has mentioned and may sound crude: Having Valdez on the lineup also means: Victorino leads off (instead of Jimmy) –that’s good!—; Chooch gets bumped up one spot on the lineup –that’s good!– . Even if we bring J-roll back right now, he’d probably bat 6 or higher in the order… that would mean that RAUUULL would get bumped down to the 7th spot (gulp!).

    Those are the unintentional consequences of Jimmy not being in the lineup. Despite Wilson’s GIDP, the lineup flows somewhat better from 1-7 as it is.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it would be nice to get Jimmy swinging well for the postseason, as long as he’s not batting leadoff.

  • Posts: 0 biz

    This site is poison. Too much negativity. Did Jeff write this article? I see a lot of people with very little baseball knowledge making asinine posts about a 3rd string infielder who stepped up in a big way. Remember Juan Castro? Yeah, him. If Valdez hadn’t stepped up the way he did, we’d have seen 400 AB from Juan Castro. Can you imagine that? How about Eric Bruntlett? Do I need to even go there?

    I don’t care about Ryan Howard’s K’s, and I don’t care about Wilson Valdez’s GIDP. Ya know why? Because they do so much in other areas. Valdez has been far above average in the field. He has a cannon. He also has quite a few clutch hits this season with big RBI’s. Anyone who doesn’t know this, hasn’t been paying attention and shouldn’t be voicing a negative opinion about the man.

    It never ceases to amaze me how a good portion of our fans do nothing but complain. 4 straight divisions, possibly the best team in the game, and here you are, whining about a career minor leaguer who stepped up big time and helped this team win the division. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

  • Posts: 0 biz

    # Sam Says:
    September 29th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    That fireball arm is incredible one of the best i have seen. you can hang some laundry on his throws


    YES! Exactly. I wonder why no one ever tried to make him a pitcher. He’s gotta be topping off in the mid 80′s on some of his throws.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    I think you are missing the point. When is the article coming out about the poor bunting technique of Roy Halladay, or how slow Carlos Ruiz is? Valdez was brought in as a defensive replacement, originally intended to get maybe 80 ABs. He’s played solid defense at three different infield positions. Is he the best defensive player on the team? No – but right now he’s better than Jimmy Rollins (defenisively or at the plate – I hope Jimmy gets it together quick, but only has 4 more games to do it). Anything off the bat is a bonus.

    Maybe on your way home tonight, you can pick on some 3rd graders for being short.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Without Valdez’s (and the rest) defense, the starting pitching would have been in even more trouble while the bats were slumping.

    And this is not “fun.” This is why Philadelphia fans have such a bad reputation, because we trash for “fun.” It’s one thing to trash other teams in good fun, but this is just stupid. Is there really nothing else to blog about?

  • Hangover Part II: Rollins 6, Valdez 4, Victorino 8, Sweeney 3, Francisco 7, Mayberry 9, Dobbs 5, Hoover 2, Blanton 1

  • Posts: 0 Publius

    I think what we have here is a problem of expectations. Paul and Michael obviously expect baseball players to be good, or at least not be a massive void at the plate when there is a man on first, while everyone else is happy with league-average mediocrity.

    To each their own I guess, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t point out flaws, especially ones as blatant and back-breakingly painful as Valdez’ constant GIDPping

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Wilson Valdez has been a savior in the field this season. I honestly think the double plays thing is a is freak thing. An aberration. You could have Eric Bruntlett, I guess. I’ll be glad to take him on the post season roster.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 biz

    Also, are we seriously using batting average, and an anemic .257 batting average at that, to justify Valdez getting at bats?!


    So are you saying that J-Roll and his .245 average shouldn’t be back in the starting lineup? Cause .257 > .245.

  • Posts: 0 Publius

    Once is a fluke, twice is an aberration, 20 is a pretty consistent pattern of hitting soft ground balls with a runner on first and getting doubled up.

  • Just for fun-Jimmy Rollins talks about Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and the music business: http://bit.ly/9Ghchy


  • Posts: 0 Publius

    biz I would much rather have Rollins’ .693 OPS than Valdez’ .660. Batting average is not a good metric to compare offensive value when we have things like OBP and SLG.

  • Without saying it, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear Tuesday that Roy Halladay will pitch Game 1 in the postseason against an opponent still to be determined.

    Conventional wisdom has been that the Phillies will follow Halladay with Cole Hamels in Game 2 and Roy Oswalt in Game 3 to split up the two righthanders, but there are strong indications now that Oswalt will pitch Game 2 and Hamels Game 3.

    “It’s going to be Oswalt in Game 2, you can bet on it,” a baseball source said Wednesday.

    It would make a lot of sense regardless of the opponent, but especially if the Phillies face the Cincinnati Reds.

  • Posts: 0 biz


    To each their own I guess, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t point out flaws, especially ones as blatant and back-breakingly painful as Valdez’ constant GIDPping


    I don’t see why you feel the need to point out the flaws of a career minor leaguer who stepped up and helped this team win the division. It’s a shame that we don’t have Hanley Ramirez riding the pine for instances such as these, but given that we’ve had Juan Castro, Eric Bruntlett, and Greg Dobbs playing utility infield for us in the past, I would think you would be grateful for a guy like Valdez. Instead, you feel some need to point out his flaws.

    I have to question exactly what is wrong with people who “feel the need” to do the things you “feel the need” to do.

  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    ***I think you are missing the point. When is the article coming out about the poor bunting technique of Roy Halladay, or how slow Carlos Ruiz is? Valdez was brought in as a defensive replacement, originally intended to get maybe 80 ABs. He’s played solid defense at three different infield positions. Is he the best defensive player on the team? No – but right now he’s better than Jimmy Rollins (defenisively or at the plate – I hope Jimmy gets it together quick, but only has 4 more games to do it). Anything off the bat is a bonus. ***

    But the point of this article is not to talk about how good Wilson Valdez is, OR how bad Wilson Valdez is. It is to point out that he hits into a hilarious number of double plays. This is pure fluff and people are gettin’ all MAD and stuff.

    @Manny – It’s not Jimmy Rollins’ fault that Charlie won’t move him down in the order. Having a hitter so bad he has to bat 8th and forces you to move someone better suited to leadoff up to the top is not a positive outcome.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck


    so with your argument…

    “an anemic .257 batting average to justify getting Valdez at-bats.”

    …wth that argument…Jimmy Rollins shouldn’t be getting at-bats…earlier in the year when Raul was struggling he shouldn’t have been getting at-bats….Chase Utley was close to that too (at one point I thinkmhis avg was .268)….and so forth.

    Come to think of it…wasn’t Ryan Howard hovering around .250 or so for part of last season? I suppose he shouldn’t have gotten at-bats, either…

    Thank God Charlie, Ruben and the rest of the Phillies management doesn’t take the advice of some of you so-called geniuses.

  • HERE IS A TAKE ON WILSON GUYS-In the first part of our Phillies series, Know Your Role, in preparation for the playoffs: Wilson Valdez. http://bit.ly/ajZzJl

  • Posts: 0 biz


  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I think how personally some of you are taking criticisms of Wilson Valdez is an indication of how objective you’re capable of being about him. And to continue to note that not much was expected of him is missing the point: the fact that nobody expects anything of a defensive replacement is exactly why you could get any number of players from around the MLB or in the minors to do exactly what Wilson Valdez has done this season — a bad bat and good defense at shortstop. This is not to say he didn’t make a contribution, it’s just that his contribution is very replaceable, so it’s ridiculous to say things like “The Phillies would not be in the playoffs without Wilson Valdez.”

    I mean, take a step back people, some of you are getting positively irate about people pointing out that Wilson Valdez just isn’t a very good baseball player. Philadelphia fans don’t get a bad reputation because they point out which of their players aren’t good; they get a bad reputation because as a Phillie you’re all embracing him as a savior, and if he were on any other team you wouldn’t hesitate to knock him. Think hard about how much the media narrative is driving your opinion on this topic.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    And does critically evaluating a fringe major leaguer provoke the “negadelphia” and “typical negative Phillie fan” comments, while these notions are nowhere to be seen when people, including commenters from this very site, bash consistently great players like Ryan Madson, Jayson Werth, etc.

  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    To put it a different way, Chris Wheeler fucking LOVES this guy.

    The proper way to frame your opinion of something is to listen to Chris Wheeler, and then think the exact opposite thing.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    “And why does” is obviously what I meant to type there.

  • Posts: 0 biz


    I’m perfectly able ot be objective about Valdez. He grounds into a lot of DP’s. How’s that?

    What I’m also able to say, which apparetnly you are not, is that he has stepped up in a big way this year. He’s played great D, has a cannon, and has provided some clutch hits. I’m willing to overlook his GIDP because I remember Juan Castro and Eric Bruntlett.

    Btw, IMO, Valdez has had a better year than Jimmy. How’s that for objective?

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    This is not “all in good fun.”

    My dad says, “Oh, Double-Play Valdez” each time he steps to the plate and I laugh a bit and shrug, because he’s making fun of me because I like Valdez.

    To actually put all the time and effort into such a mean-spirited, negative exercise is not FUN. Don’t even try to sell this as not being mean-spirited, because the language in the article proves otherwise.

    “Here comes Double-Play Valdez,” is all in good fun.

    Actually going out and researching these stats for no good reason other than to trash someone who’s helped our team reach the play-offs is completely pointless. Shame on this site for allowing this kind of pointless negativity. “Fluff?” Try “garbage.”

    It’s not like Valdez was released or left off the post-season roster and this negative piece was supposed to be defending such a move.

    Chase Utley was slumping like mad even before he was injured. No one’s going off and looking up his stats during the great bat blackout of 2010.

    No one’s timing Schneider or Ruiz from the plate to first base.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    There’s no guarantee that any other utility player in the mold of a Wilson Valdez would have done what he’s done this year.



    “Cult heroes” help teams win pennants….and World Championships. Baseball history is littered with them. Brian Doyle of the late 70′s Yankees and Craig Counsell of the ’97 Marlins come to mind.

    Point is…good teams….CHAMPIONSHIP teams….need people like Wilson Valdez to help them win.

    And, yes…whether you choose to embrace the fact or not….Wilson Valdez HAS been a savior this year.. No media member had to convince me of that.

Leave a Comment

>> Create a new Phillies Nation account.
>> Already registered with Phillies Nation? Log in here.
>> Comment without logging in:

Please ensure your comments comply with our Comment Policy.