FanPost

Defending Skip Schumaker

Lately, I've seen Schumaker thrown around as a terrible player, with the likes of Pedro Feliz and Co.  I think Schumaker is getting an unfair shake here.  I realize he is no world-beater as a player, but its quite ridiculous in my opinion that he is so easily thrown out of the picture for next season.

The Skip Schumaker contract was clearly not a smart move in hindsight of course.  But I don't really understand why everyone is just simply writing him off for 2011.  He is still cheap and we can still get surplus value on his contract.  

Schumaker's defense is horrible; there is no denying that.  But 2010 Skip Schumaker is not this bad of a hitter.  At the very least, he is certainly been unlucky to date and to think otherwise would be biased and one-sided.  The numbers clearly point in Schumaker's favor in that regard.  

Year

BB rate

K rate

BABIP

OBP

OPS

wOBA

ISO

WAR 

2008

7.9%

11.1%

.328

.359

.765

.341

.104

2.3     

2009

8.9%

13.0%

.341

.364

.757

.336

.090

1.5   

2010

8.0%

13.9%

.298

.331

.678

.304

.079

0.0  

The real concern here of course is that his BB rate has declined, his K rate has risen, his ISO power has dipped three years in a row, and of course his OPS and wOBA have now consecutively declined thrice times.

To me, the OBP, and as a result the OPS and wOBA, don't concern me as much as the isolated power.  I don't want him to have Miles' like power and he is getting dangerously close to that territory.  

Anyway the reason for optimism and not to give up on him is his horrible luck.  Its downright Craigsian.  His BABIP of course is the first outlier and that's a key word.  His BABIP in his career is not .300 so the .298 is not neutral luck as it first seems.  Batted ball data gives us a closer look at why exactly he has been getting hoodwinked.

Year

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

LD%

2008

58.1%

20.2%

3.1%

21.7%

2009

61%

17.5%

9.8%

21.6%

2010

57.9%

19.4%

1.4%

22.6%

This is a bit perplexing to me.  His groundball rate is at a career low, his flyball rate is in the middle, his infield flyball rate is barely existent, and his line drive rate is at a career high yet his BABIP is at .298 which is 25 lower than his career BABIP level.  

I would tend to chalk the batted ball data to be wrong, however every category is pretty consistenly in a good position.  Its not like his LD rate is out of this world, but he has a high infield flyball rate.  (Random Note: How do you hit .300 when 1/10 of your hits is an infield flyball as Schumaker did in 2009?).

The positive is that he's getting paid $2.7 million.  This is sort of a negative as well, but I'll look at it as a positive.  He needs to have roughly a 0.6 WAR to be worth his contract next season and I would bet internet dollars that he is definitely going to be worth that.  

He could even cover the remaining contract and more (surplus value).  His contract is $4.7 million overall.  So far he has earned exactly 0% of his contract so its all up to him next season to be worth it.  But if he can manage close to his 1.5 WAR in 2008 like I think he can, he will be worth over 6 million.  He will probably not approach the 2.3 WAR he had in 2008, so let's call that his absolute upside.  

Anyway, I'm not necesarily claiming Skip Schumaker is a good player.  He is probably an average player with slightly above average offense and below average defense.  He crushes right-handed pitching as well, so a platoon with a right-handed 2B option would be smart.  

The issue is Daniel Descalsco is left-handed of course.  But how much better would Descalsco be than Schumaker?  Would he even be better?  That is an interesting question and really the only thing to go by is his MLEs right now and whatever playing time he receives up in the MLB

MLE: .247/.300/.349/.649 

Not very good.  He has a .768 OPS in AAA which is league average and most likely becomes below average in the majors.  His batted ball data is quite horrendous as well.  He has just a 16.7% LD rate and a 13% IFFB rate.  His .303 BABIP seems almost lucky with those peripherals but its probably neutral luck.  

I would negate Descalsco as a replacement just because his stats are midly unimpressive.  Anyway, it fits kind of conveniently in this way that when Skip's contract ends, Descalsco can take over as long as he improves.  Descalsco can play Tyler Greene next year jumping back and forth.  He should actually play that role too because his stats don't suggest MLB, but at the same time, they need to soothe him in.

The only options beside Descalsco is a free agent addition.  Orlando Hudson is the only appealing full-time starter, but he'll likely get upward of $5 million dollars.  Putting $7.7+ into one position is not smart with the impending contract of Albert Pujols especially if you already have a millionaire at that position.  

Kelly Johnson is another possibility, but the Cardinals have caught him at the worst possible time.  He just hit a career year and he is in a weak free agent class.  He'll probably get more money than the Cardinals can afford.  

The only other options are mostly borderline starters/bench players in which case you should use my suggestion: platoon.  (*cough - Tyler Greene - cough* - excuse me....)

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