junior spivey was easily the cardinals' best acquisition this winter. unlike all the others, the cards don't need him to upgrade his current level of performance; if he just repeats his 2005 numbers (offensive and defensive) he'll help the team and be worth what they're paying him. and spivey's 2005 batting line was well below his established norms, it's more than likely he'll hit better this year.
whether he'll hit more often is the bigger question. spivey will be 31 this year and has had only 1 season of 500 or more at-bats in his career -- including his years in the minors. in 10 years of professional baseball, at all levels, he has topped 100 games played just three times.
that's a shame, because he's a heck of a player. over his career, he's been good for roughly 15 homers, 30 doubles, and 60 walks per 500 at-bats -- indeed, those are about the standards he set in his all-star year of 2002. you wouldn't know it, but he has continued to produce at about the same rate. the only fluky thing about 2002 was his high batting average (.301); otherwise he has maintained his production at the same level, if not the same quantity. spivey's avg last year was flukishly low (.232), and we can isolate the reason fairly easily; his line-drive percentage (ie, the proportion of his batted balls that are line drives) troughed from a norm of about 22 pct in 2002-04 to just 17 pct in 2005. and his flyball rate increased commensurately, from a three-year avg of about 37 pct to 43 pct last year. a similar thing happened to juan encarnacion in 2004 -- his line drive rate went into the tank for a year, dragging his batting avg down with it -- but when he got healthy he started hitting the ball more squarely. i'd be surprised if spivey doesn't do the same thing in 2006.
they're an interesting match, spivey and encarnacion. here are their career numbers, side by side, per 500 at-bats:
the only real difference between them is that spivey draws 25 more walks a year. well, that and the fact that spivey's a middle infielder on a short, cheap contract and not a corner outfielder on a three-year deal. . . . . and that he's only good for about 250 at-bats a year.
should be an interesting projection. i'm not gonna set a level for playing time, which will complicate things when it's time to aggregate the numbers but oh well. here's what i need from you for this guy:
- batting avg
- on-base pct
- slugging pct
finally, here are his stats since 2002 (nearly his whole career):
results on the morrow.