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Revere’s Acquisition Steal Compared to Choo’s Cost

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, December 12, 2012 12:00 PM | Comments: 19
Analysis, Opinion, Posts

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/si/2012/baseball/mlb/12/06/ben-revere-phillies-twins-trade.ap/ben-revere-smi2.jpgThe Phillies acquisition of Ben Revere was met with a blend of generally positive merriment and cautious optimism among Phillies fans. The deal addressed a clear need, a long-term solution in center field, but the cost, Vance Worley and Trevor May, irked some fans (and FanGraph’s Dave Cameron) who argued the Phillies robbed Peter to pay Paul. The ire was based on the assumptions that (#1) Worley will be completely healthy for 2013, (#2) will continue to have success with his high-ratio of called strikes, (#3) that May is still a starter, (#4) that May is still the Phillies top prospect, and (#5) that May will be a top-tier starter. Unfortunately for the Twins, a lot of those are gambles that may not break in their favor and they gave up a 24-year old center fielder with the fourth-most range, was third in the MLB in steals, is the second-best base runner in the Majors, and doesn’t strike out.

Keeping those things in mind, I was shocked yesterday to see the haul that was exchanged in the three-way deal that saw Shin-Soo Choo end up with the Cincinnati Reds. Choo, 30, was a target of the Phillies earlier this offseason per reports from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is coming off a bounce-back year in 2012 and is entering his third year of arbitration eligibility, coming off a season where he got paid $4.9 million and is due for a bump. Choo’s play in 2012 was worth 2.6 fWAR, or $11.7 million, per FanGraphs in right field – conversely, Revere was worth 3.4 WAR, or $15.2 million, in center, higher than B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, and others. For less in prospects, and likely around $5 million less in payroll after Choo’s arbitration hearing, the Phillies picked up a better player and, more importantly, a better center fielder.

The Trade Pieces

Because the trade that sent Choo to Cincinnati was a three-way deal, it is tougher to gauge who gave up the most so here is how I’ll view the trade: what did the Indians give up and what did the Indians get. This gives the clearest picture of the trade for comparison’s sake.

Cleveland gave up: Choo, Jason Donald, Lars Anderson, and Tony Sipp

Cleveland received: Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Drew Stubbs

In short, Cleveland gave up Choo, a slightly-above average outfielder who has played at an All-Star level but has not played center field since 2009, Donald, former Phillies farm-hand and essentially, a  Quadruple-A player, Anderson, a former Red Sox top first base prospect who has struggled at Triple-A and is only 25 but probably will never be the player he was projected to be, and a perfectly average reliever in Sipp for quite the bundle of players.

What the Indians did was a steal just short of highway robbery. The big piece of this deal was undoubtedly Trevor Bauer. Bauer was the number nine ranked prospect by Baseball America headed into 2012, the number one ranked Diamondbacks prospect as ranked by FanGraphs, and was called earlier this morning by Baseball America as a future ace. At 21, much has been made of Bauer’s mechanics, but his successes at Double-A and Triple-A last year earned Bauer a call-up to the Diamondbacks in just his second professional season.

Ben Bader of Baseball America reported that Bauer and the Diamondbacks differed on off-season training plans and has been labeled by Arizona as a player who is not receptive to change. But Bader cites Bauer’s “whipe-out” curveball and control of his low-90s fastball as reasons the Indians pulled a coup in this trade.

Stubbs heads over to Cleveland in a move that will help them fill their gap at center field. Stubbs, from a WAR perspective, has been a very comparable player to Choo in the last three seasons (Stubbs: 7.9 v. Choo: 10.2), is two years younger, and has three years of arbitration eligibility compare to Choo’s one. While a team acquiring Choo may have seen his best years playing in a different uniform, Stubbs plays above average center field and any improvement in plate discipline, a skill-set that traditionally improves with age, will dramatically increase Stubbs’ value.

Albers is a steadily improving, but an average-to-below average reliever. Albers is due for an arbitration raise from a $1.075 million salary in 2012 and was likely included to balance salaries in the deal. Albers made slightly less than Bauer ($1.183 million), who signed a Major League contract after being drafted third overall in 2011.  Shaw, 25, is a nice, young righty arm who comes from Arizona. In 97 Major League appearances, Shaw has a 3.18 ERA and 6.7 K/9 IP but struggles with walks (3.3 BB/9 IP). Shaw finished 27 of the 97 games he appeared in for the Diamondbacks.

The Indians official haul? A no-doubt-about-it top of the line, top-flight pitching prospect, a center fielder who is cheaper, has two more years of team control,  and very comparable to the right fielder they traded away, an expensive (relatively) veteran reliever, and a pretty decent 25-year old, Major League-experienced reliever for an above average right fielder who is due a few million more than Stubbs in 2013, a replaceable utility infielder, a young, but disappointing first base prospect, and an average reliever.

Trading a possibly-recovering starter who projects at best as a #3 starter and a former top-of-the-organization starter who now projects as a very good reliever for a very good center fielder entering his age 25 season after two solid seasons in Minnesota doesn’t seem like such a steep price after all. Worst case scenario for the Phillies from a trade perspective? The Phillies traded away two #3 starters who under team control for a number of years for a very good, developing center fielder who still has four years of team control. Is that a worthwhile risk? Compared to the price for Choo, absolutely.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 812 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 phil

    Yeah when I read that last night I was shocked. Arizona got fleeced big time…the reds did too but not as bad as Arizona. The Indians made out like bandits and needed something like that after the plethora of trades that never panned out. They got good hauls for Lee sabathia and Martinez but this is why prospects are just that…prospects.

     
  • Posts: 0 gmopro

    Choo’s a pretty good player who can produce right now and is proven. Has a lot of tools. Revere has no power. Choo does. Revere shouldnt command anything close to what Choo would. Choo is more valuable. That being said, they gave up a lot to get Choo.

     
  • Posts: 0 phil

    WAR which is a stat specifically for value says revere was better by an entire win last year…

     
    • Posts: 5222 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      I generally like WAR as a comparative tool, but it’s not without glitches. Despite what WAR indicates I think Choo is the better player “right now”.

      Here’s an example of the problem I have with WAR.

      Casey Kotchman had a 2.8 WAR in 2011 with 10 HRs, 48 RBIs, and 44 Runs Scored in 146 games played. Ryan Howard had a 1.7 WAR in 2011 with 33 HRs, 116 RBIs, and 81 Runs Scored in 152 games played. Was Casey Kotchman really worth more than Ryan Howard in 2011? Would the Phillies have won an extra game (103) with Kotchman than they did with Howard? Would the team really have been better off?

      I like Revere, I think he has great upside and potential. He may be better than Span one day, I just don’t like using WAR to measure it.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Definitely counter-intuitive in that case.

        The way to summarize that would be that they were equal as hitters (more below), both were bad baserunners, but Kotchman was the better fielder. And if you accept all that, it makes sense that Kotchman would be somewhat better.

        But of course, that begs the question: how could they be equal as hitters?

        Kotchman is a below-average hitter for his career, but he’s been inconsistent. In 2011 (as in 2007), he hit very well: .306/.378/.422 (.800 OPS, .354 wOBA).

        Howard had a higher OPS in 2011, but while OPS is usually a good proxy for the more accurate wOBA, it weighs slugging percentage too heavily, by giving it the same weight as OBP. Their wOBA were actually essentially the same.

        Howard: .253/.346/.488 (.835 OPS, .355 wOBA)

        Kotchman didn’t have the flashy HR total, but did have 40 more singles, helping his SLG, and he got on base a good bit more than Howard.

        Would the Phillies have won an extra game with Kotchman that year? You can’t know — the sample is too small. If they played the season say, 100 times, the stats say that on average a team with the 2011 version of Kotchman would win one more game than a team with 2011′s Howard.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Also, obviously, Howard had the impressive RBI total due to his spot, the runners on base when he came to bat, and his greater number of extra base hits. And, Howard hit much better with RISP than Kotchman did (.298 vs. .250).

        But before we give Howard too much credit for getting runners in, we keep in mind that Kotchman was better at setting the table, which is also very important.

         
      • Posts: 5222 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Good explanation, I agree especially with the idea that the sample is too small. Hence the reason I commented about the difference between Choo and Revere- it’s not an appropriate measurement in that case.

        BTW- I also believe that games are won by teams, not individuals. The reason I found an example from 2011 is that while the Phillies were middle of the pack in hitting, they were the best pitching team. I firmly believe that to evaluate the players correctly we need to know this because the Phillies needed run producers more than they did defenders that year. Because of that IMO, the Phillies would have surely won LESS games with Kotchman then they would with Howard.

        I know you know this already, but just to be clear, I’m all about advanced metrics, I love learning about them, they have changed the way I perceive many facets of the game. I appreciate what you and others have contribute, I’m a big fan. I just think that sometimes you have to be careful with sample sizes. Ben Revere is not a better player than Sin Soo Choo, but the metrics tell us he has a chance to be very good. So when there seemed to be a disagreement about their value in the comments above, I thought it appropriate to chime in.

         
      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        I’m not sure I agree when you say it’s not an appropriate measurement in that case. We measure all facets of the game, convert all those measurements to runs saved or runs generated, and then convert the runs to wins, all based on historical averages. Even if one player’s overall contributions were better than another’s (Kotchman better than Howard in 2011, Revere better than Choo in 2012), there is just too much other variability to confidently say that, for example, the Phillies would have won 1 more game with Kotchman in 2011. That’s what I meant by the sample being too small.

        Secondly, I don’t think I agree with the statement that, because the Phillies had better pitching than hitting in 2011, improving the hitting would have helped them win more games than improving the run prevention would have. (and it turns out the two players were equal offensively, anyway)

        Run differential (more precisely, the ratio between runs scored and runs allowed) has proven to be a great predictor of winning percentage. So again, I don’t think it matters, in the long run, whether you widen that differential by scoring more runs, or by allowing fewer runs. In fact, if I remember right the ratio is improved slightly more by reducing runs allowed than by increasing runs scored by the same amount.

         
      • Posts: 5222 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        My point was that as the 15th best hitting team the Phillies had a lot more room for improvement in 2011 than in run prevention. Sure they could have let up fewer runs, but it’s hard to do better than that team did. (Under 500 earned- has to be right up there in the modern era, I couldn’t find it)

        I believe Howard’s 66 point advantage in SLG did hold more weight for that particular team, that particular year- than Kotchman’s 32 point advantage in OBP. Every team’s make-up, or situation is different. You need a proper mix. Eight Ryan Braun’s or Mike Trout’s would be nice, but that doesn’t happen. The ratio might be improved by reducing runs, but not if you don’t score enough.

         
      • Posts: 872 schmenkman

        Avatar of schmenkman

        Lefty, you’re right, 500 earned runs is historically good. Best for a full season since 1972 or something ridiculous, if I recall.

        “I believe Howard’s 66 point advantage in SLG did hold more weight for that particular team, that particular year- than Kotchman’s 32 point advantage in OBP.”

        I don’t know why that would be the case. Someone else would have hit 4th, and wouldn’t have done as well as Howard, but would have driven in many of those runs, and Kotchman would have put more runners on base.

        “The ratio might be improved by reducing runs, but not if you don’t score enough.”

        Sorry, I’m not following. If you can increase the ratio of runs scored vs. runs allowed, say by improving your defense, I don’t think that’s any less important (or would result in fewer wins) than increasing the ratio by scoring more runs.

         
      • Posts: 5222 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        “Sorry, I’m not following. If you can increase the ratio of runs scored vs. runs allowed, say by improving your defense”

        That particular year. Good night friend, see you tomorrow.

         
    • Posts: 5222 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      And just to add to that, I know that Kotchman is a better fielding first baseman. I just don’t think the difference in their fielding made Howard a worse player when you compare the offensive stats.

       
  • Posts: 0 gmopro

    I still think we gave up too much for Revere and many agree. I liked Vanimal. Liked how he competed and he had a personality and presence out there beyond just stats. Maybe he will just be a bottom of rotation guy. I dont know, but I didnt mind having him in the rotation. At least they didnt trade Ruf. That was my biggest worry. Good job Amaro. You gave up too much for Revere IMO , but u did get us a speedy slap hitting CF on the cheap and you didnt trade Ruf away. I hope Revere can hit as many triples as Victorino hit (before his wrist injury). What was Victorino’s WAR vs Revere’s WAR. Hawaiin had a down season in 2012, so I guess his WAR was lower than usual there.

     
  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    I have no problem with Revere if the Phils land Hamilton for right field.
    Revere’s presence helps the team in a few areas where they have been deficient, notably speed and batting averages but he has zero power and is never going to be a big RBI man and that brings us to the weakness Revere can’t put much of a dent into – the team’s lack of big-inning scoring.
    If Hamilton is in right (or maybe Swisher, but I’m less convinced of his value), then Revere becomes a far better fit than with any other pair of fielders they currently can put out there with him. There have also been rumors of the Yankees interest in moving Granderson via a trade. Not much for average and he strikes out a lot, but would certainly produce HRs and big innings. Just a thought.

     
  • Posts: 0 slick rick the gAsMaN

     
  • [...] Phillies Nation says the Phillies paid a steep price for Revere. [...]

     
  • Posts: 438 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    Yo Gasman, I prefer the Boss’s cover.

     
  • Posts: 0 Tim

    Your entire article is based on a series of false or at least misleading premises, the most glaring of which is that Revere played center field last year. In fact, he spent the bulk of his time in right field (89 games) and only played 39 games in CF (starting 34). Moreover, their UZR seems to favor corner outfielders, with only one of the top 7 playing CF.

    Revere’s only year in CF earned him a -0.2 dWAR. So we certainly need to hold off on crowning him a defensive wonder. And even using WAR for 2012, there’s a pretty hefty dispute. Baseball-reference WAR puts Revere well down from Choo (with a difference of .7 WAR) and the entire difference comes from Revere’s defense (where bb-ref gives Choo an astonishing -1.9 WAR). Given the much smaller outfield dimensions in CBP, Revere’s defense is going to be hard-pressed to make up for his inability to get any hits out of the infield. The Phillies just acquired a young Juan Pierre. While Worley and May may prove to be worth less, it’s hard to call this a win for the Phillies.

     
  • Posts: 0 ClaudioV

    Great article, and you backed up all your stats on Revere except one, which is kind of bugging me… You said he’s the second-best base runner in the majors… According to what? A stat, an opinion, or a source of yours?

     
 
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