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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.

 
 
  • GOD I HOPE THIS IS NOT TRUE!-just announced Sweeney will be left of the NLDS roster in favor of Dobbs……..I AM CHECKING INTO THIS!!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    Every time Eric Bruntlett was on base in a World Series game, he scored a run.

    That’s the walking, talking definition of clutch contributor!! I can’t believe people think badly of him!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Right now…I would take Eric Bruntlett over Greg Dobbs.

    Seriously.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    JAY..

    I guess Ruben figured that Sweeney’s WAR wasn’t good enough….so they left him off.

    In all seriousness…really?? he’s not on the roster ?? What the…..???!!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    I find that hard to believe. Source?

     
  • CHUCK-I AM HOPING JUST LIKE YOU THAT ITS NOT TRUE,I READ IT ON A SITE,BUT I HAVE NOT FOUND OUT FOR SURE YET……….

     
  • I THINK IT IS B.S TOO…….

     
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    They’ve got to have a righthanded batter off the bench. Clearly, Gload is the go-to guy from the left. Sounds fishy.

     
  • WELL THEY WILL HAVE BEN……….DOBBS WILL BE A BACKUP INFIELDER,THAT WOULD BE THE ONLY REASON HE MAKES THE ROSTER,BUT WHO KNOWS!!!

     
  • YEA-I CANT FIND ANYTHING,SO WE WILL FILE THIS UNDER NOT TRUE FOR NOW…….

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Bruntlett was one of the worst players in Phillies history. Check the stats.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    Forgot about Benny Fresh. How could I?

    Regardless, I think last night was Dobbs’s audition for a postseason spot. He didn’t make a very strong argument in his favor.

     
  • SCOTT-WELL HE IS IN THE LINEUP AGAIN TONIGHT…..LOL

     
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    God help us.

     
  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    @Kate
    ***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. **

    Ok, I will. Why? Because baseball statistics are fun!

    Chase got hurt on June 28th. His batting line was .277/.383/.466. (.849 OPS)
    His current batting line for the year is .278/.391/.454 (.843 OPS)

    Chase is having a down year (for Chase). He’s getting on base as well as ever, but his power clearly suffered from the injury. His OPS+ is 126 (100 is league average).

    Valdez’s batting line for the season is .257/.302/.358 (.660 OPS)
    His batting line as a second baseman is .248/.295/.347 (.642 OPS)

    Wilson is having an incredible year (For Wilson). His slugging is 30 points higher than it has ever been, but is 100 points below Chase (and 20 points below Jimmy, who is having a horrible year but still better than Wilson Valdez). His OPS+ is 76 (Again, 100 is average). His career OPS+ is 63.

    Also Ruiz runs the bases really well, catcher or no. Remember who scored without a throw from 1st base with only 1 out on Jimmy’s double in the NLCS last year?

     
  • Posts: 0 SJHaack

    To put it a different way, Chris Wheeler freaking 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 Chuck

    That shows just how much I can’t stand Greg Dobbs….

    …..the fact that I would rather have Eric Bruntlett….. “one of the worst players in Phillies history”…..

    …..over him.

     
  • Posts: 0 Publius

    Dipsy telling people to look at the stats. Delicious irony.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    We should go out and get Wilson Valdez teeshirts made. He is the face of the 2010 Phillies. We should be talking to artists to begin on his statue in front of the stadium. We should be grateful to this wonderful little man who fills so many infield holes so effectively. A bit hyperbolic, but you do get the drift that Wilson Valdez in indeed a contributor to this team in 2010. He does not deserve to be disrespected.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Real bad wether today in DC I think they dont get this one in.

    Valdez ia the most pleasent suprise of the team.
    Period

     
  • Posts: 0 Phan in the outfield

    Again Chuck — I have to back your thoughts on Dobbs. I’d PAY a little leaguer over Dobbs. Anyone but Dobbs. Just say NO to Dobbs. I vote NO TO DOBBS. That should do it.

    I read all the above posts. The numbers were informative, the opinions interesting. I honestly think both sides have salient points. The truth is the real Wilson Valdez falls in the middle. In the beginning every time he was on the field or stepped to the plate, I realized I’d developed a silent mantra, ‘Oh pls let us come out the other side of this in one piece. It’s not fair – it’s not fair.’

    Like bfo, Chuck, Kate, George, Andrew, Bart & others I’m sure I left out, I grew to really like the guy. He not only hung in there in a difficult sports environment, with a team that was having problems, but he worked hard & we could see it. A few wks later his fielding was well above average & he wasn’t hitting into double plays every AB. Lately his fielding has been terrific.

    Would we not be here w/o Valdez? I doubt that. Like Phylan, I think that fact has more to do with Uncle Charlie, Polanco (Mr. Consistency), Ibanez, Werth, Ruiz (& his 2nd Schneider & 3rd Hoover), Howard (& his 2nd Gload & 3rd Sweeney), Halladay, Hamels (never thought I’d say that one), Durbin, Contreras (sadly today’s Jeltz), possibly even Lidge, and definitely the acquisition of Oswalt.

    Someone else would’ve been in Valdez’ spot. They also would’ve risen to the expected play of the rest of the Phillies. They would’ve found the relaxed clubhouse environment that Halladay & Sweeney both talk so respectfully & happily about just as fun to be in. They too would’ve wanted to stay just as I’m sure Wilson does.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phan in the outfield

    I meant to include this — I’m not sure why Michael Baumann felt he wanted to write the article to begin with though. I don’t think I understand the point. Wilson Valdez has served his purpose and performed admirably. Let it go.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Probably because this is a Phillies blog about the Phillies and he thought he’d write something about a Phillie who was flirting with a significant milestone.

    But to read the comments of Kate you’d think he sought out Wilson’s family and told them he was a child molester. You guys are just ridiculous. Seriously, look at yourselves. You’re canonizing a below-average backup thrust into a starter role because he wasn’t a total catastrophe.

     
  • Some more news-looks like Roy Oswalt for Game 2 http://bit.ly/dvrWAE

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    “It’s OK if my dad makes an off-hand remark about how he hits into a lot of double-plays but the second you actually research that fact and god forbid actually write about it, you sir have crossed the line!”

    Like, can we evaluate this statement for a second?

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Michael Baumann wrote it because he just wants to innecessarily stir up the pot and say things that make no sense. And it’s interesting that whenever he or Paul Boye write one of these ridiculous columns….that’s when guys like Phylan and Publius show up.

    If they want to de-value Valdez…so be it. I am choosing to embrace his presence on this team…and I’ll be laughing my a$$ off when he wins the Phillies a few postseason games…

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    It’s actually hilarious to me how offended you all are about this.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Nobody’s “canonizing” the guy.

    But we’re saying that he is a major reason why the Phillies are where they are.

    Like I said…if you wish to DE-VALUE him…go ahead.

    But don’t come back on here and sing his praises when he helps win them a game or two in the postseason.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I’m not offended at all. I just think your DE-VALUATION of him is off-base.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    What they going to leave Sweeney off the Roster this is insane? As far as Valdez i think he has held his own. Double Play Exxon has done an admirable job. He was never known for his bat but .257 isnt as bad. He was a 3rd stringer and for a 3rd stringer he has been doing a great job. If we would of hit into lets say 10 double plays we wouldnt even be having this discussion. Great plays save close games which the Phillies have been in plenty of this year. He is like that 7th man on a basketball team. The little contributions can make a difference.

     
  • Posts: 0 sjhaack

    I don’t understand where all the offense is coming from. Here is what I got from the article:

    “Holy crap, Wilson Valdez hits into a lot of double plays. Everyone knew it was a bunch, but it really is that many.”

    He even wrapped it all up high-school style in the last paragraph. When Wilson Valdez is in the game, you get two outs on a single batted ball a lot. The end!

    Where is everyone getting this accusation of horribleness from? The entire article is wholly about double plays re: Wilson Valdez. Why are people angry about this?

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I’m not devaluing him Chuck, I’m assigning him his proper value, if you read what I’ve said in this thread. You’re overvaluing him.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Valdez has been a bright spot in a spotty season.

    I won’t be so quick to defend Phillies fans the next time someone reminds me we always find something to complain about.

    I don’t care that someone did the research into ol’ Double-Play Exxon. The facts of the opinion piece are not in dispute.

    What I find offensive is the mean-spirited, derogatory, dismissive way this “article” treats a guy who has more than pulled his weight this season, and unexpectedly so.

    No one’s going to convince me that we would have made it further than the Wild Card without Wilson Valdez and the other bench, back-up, and utility players like him. Brian Schneider also won us a game right before the All-Star break, if I recall.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I guess you could interpret it as mean-spirited, derogatory, and dismissive, if you completely ignored this paragraph:

    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.

    Which is exactly what most of us have been saying – he did what was expected. And I’m guessing you didn’t really read much of the article so you probably did ignore it.

    I don’t know why you’re comparing him to Brian Schneider, since Schneider has an OPS 80 points higher, and is actually producing at nearly league average at the plate. What you don’t understand is that there are tons of available players exactly like Wilson Valdez. This is why the Phillies would be right where they are now without him. If you can’t be convinced of something so demonstrably true, then why are you bothering to “debate” the topic with a closed mind?

     
  • Posts: 0 SandPhlea

    As I recall the MANAGER said Wilson might be the MVP of the team. You know, the best manager in the majors this year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    You can’t say that for sure…that “the Phillies would be right where they are now without him”.

    Maybe there are other players that are “exactly like Wilson Valdez”….with their numbers.

    But Valdez has brought something INTANGIBLE to the equation that maybe a player “exactly like” him wouldn’t have brought.

    You…and I…and Kate…and the next person….don’t really know that…and we never will. But you can’t make the statement that you did.

    And again…”terrible offensive numbers” doesn’t describe Valdez when the guy is hitting .257.

    Not .157

    .257

    The bottom line is…and I will stick to it….is that the Phillies are DAMN lucky that they had Wilson this year. And give props to Ruben for seeing something in him that led to his becoming a Phillie.

    Oh, and Phylan, I read the entire article. Just sayin’

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    If you’re making a positive assertion that there is something “intangible” about Valdez, some intangible thing so important that the Phillies would be in a significantly different position without him, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that it exists; you can’t simply say “you don’t know!” and act like that means anything. I’ve used demonstrable facts to qualify Valdez’s contribution to the Phillies, you must do the same.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Case in point: Valdez’s chemistry with Utley and Howard is almost Rollins-esque in nature. Unless you’re going to try to tell me there’s nothing unusual about the chemistry of the infield triple-headed monster of Rollins, Utley, and Howard.

    Valdez and Mike Sweeney fit right in with this club.

    They plugged Juan Castro in the same spot and he didn’t produce the way Valdez did. So there’s *something* there that Valdez brought to the table that Castro didn’t.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    And a half-hearted backhanded compliment doesn’t render the rest of the piece innocuous.

    It’s mean-spirited and unnecessarily negative, especially for a guy who has more than earned the respect and gratitude of the club and the fans.

    Baseball isn’t only about the numbers, it’s about the guys playing it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Phylan, here’s the defintion of intangible:
    http://www.yourdictionary.com/intangible

    The fact is that NONE OF US KNOW for sure whether someone else with similiar stats as Wilson Valdez would have brought the same thing to the team…..and made it so that the manager said, as someone above just suggested, “that Wilson might be the MVP of the team”

    I didn’t say that. SandPhlea didn’t say that (he just recalled it)

    CHARLIE MANUEL said it.

    And I think that the MANAGER might know better than any of us whether or not someone is valuable or not…whether he has those “INTANGIBLES” or not.

    Again…NONE OF US KNOW what would have happened if someone else was in there instead of Valdez. Maybe the Phillies would have doen the same thing. Maybe they would have 110 wins. Or maybe they would now be on the outside looking in.

    And sometimes “demonstrable facts” don’t tell the whole story. You can’t just sabrmetric everything to death.

    Why can’t you just accept the fact that Valdez has been a major benefit to this team…and leave it at that. Stop over-analyzing and over-thinking every single thing about this beautiful game.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    None of us know, but I have a pretty good idea based on the facts that are available. You are asserting something you cannot even define or explain that makes Wilson Valdez substantially more important to the team than his performance indicates. You have to prove that, if you want me to be convinced. This isn’t about sabermetrics, at all, so don’t even bring it up. I’ve used nothing but conventional stats – average, on base percentage, slugging, OPS – to talk about Valdez’s contribution.

    I can’t accept that Wilson Valdez has been a “major benefit” to the team because that overrates his contribution. He’s been an acceptable backup. And don’t you dare imply for a second that I don’t appreciate the beauty of baseball just because I dig a little deeper to understand what’s going on. I don’t over-analyze anything. In the case of Wilson Valdez, you’re running with the media narrative, a quote from the manager, and some anecdotes – you’re under-analyzing.

     
  • Posts: 0 biz

    Phylan,

    I’m glad you took the hyper-link off of your name. It was really hard to take someone’s opinion seriously when their name links to firerubenamaro.net.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Firerubenamaro.net?

    Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh…

    Well, I’m convinced.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I would encourage you to read the content before you decide how informed I am on the subject but you didn’t give Michael that benefit.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I said earlier in this thread that the media did NOTHING to convince me or influence me that what I have been witnessing with Valdez has been pretty special.

    And the same with the manager’s comments.

    I have watched enough games this year to figure out for myself that the Phillies…and the fans….have been VERY BLESSED…to have Valdez as part of the team and part of this CULTURE here in Philadelphia.

    That’s what it is…a CULTURE…that’s special here. Sometimes that’s something that just supercedes stats…whether they be conventional ones or ones of a sabrmetric quality.

    You’re right. His stats alone suggest that he’s just another utility player in a group of many. He DOESN’T have “terrible” offensive numbers, as Michael suggests in his article. .257 isn’t a “terrible” average (unless you’re Ted Williams)

    But he has *something*…as Kate has said….that can’t necessarily be defined. That’s INTANGIBLE.

    And so what?? Does it matter that it’s intanginble??

    If you don’t want to appreciate what he’s done…as you’ve alluded to by saying that he hasn’t been a “major benefit”…then that’s your business and right.

    But please don’t come on here if/when Valdez wins a few games for the Phillies in the postseason and hoot and holler and sing his praises. By devaluing him and what he’s done this year…you’ve sacrificed that right.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    So because I think he’s been an adequate backup and nothing more, I don’t get to pump my fist when he makes a great play? Because I’ve already been doing that.

    And who gets to decide which utility guys contribute INTANGIBLES and CULTURE to the team? Just you and Kate? Don’t you see the problem here?

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    How do you know he has SOMETHING that can’t necessarily be defined? Can you give me any hint to what it is? I watch all the games too, and somehow it’s eluded me.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    That’s why it’s INTANGIBLE, Phylan. Not everything can always be defined. Not everything is black or white. And I shouldn’t have to give you any hints. You’re a seemingly intelligent person. Figure it out…it’s really not that hard .

    Yeah, sure, pump your fist. Shout. Carry on like a crazy person. What ever it is you do during games.

    Just don’t come on here and sing his praises if he has some kind of unbelievable postseason that helps the Phillies to another WFC….maybe wins MVP of one of the series (could happen, you know) Your credibility will have been shot with me…and I would imagine a few others on this site (not just Kate, by the way).

     
  • Posts: 0 biz

    Phylan Says:
    September 29th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    So because I think he’s been an adequate backup and nothing more, I don’t get to pump my fist when he makes a great play? Because I’ve already been doing that.

    ________

    First of all, he’s been more than adequate. He’s been outstanding. I would go as far as saying he’s been just as good as Jimmy’s been this year. Plus, he’s saved us from having to see extended AB from Juan Castro and Dobbs.

    2nd, you can’t pump your fists for him because you’ve decided to sit here and spend the better part of a day finding faults with him and trying to convince others that he has only done an “average” and “adequate” job. That’s why you can’t pump your fists. You wanna sit here and rip him, then fine, go ahead. But don’t pretend you’re a cheerleader later on. That would be like Jeff going around high-fiving guys after a Howard Tater. It’s hypocritical.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    See what I’m saying, Phylan? Your credibility is in question. biz just confirmed what I have been saying and went further by suggesting that you would be a hypocrite by being a cheerleader.

    You want to do that in your own home or somewhere else…fine. But not on here after “spending the better part of the day finding faults with him and trying to convince others that he’s only done an average and adequate job”.

     
 
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