Near the end of this past week, there was a report that stated the Rangers were trying to strike up a deal with the Atlanta Braves for one of their two shortstops, Tyler Pastornicky & Andrelton Simmons. The goal was to see if the Rangers could acquire either player & potentially use that player in a trade to finally acquire Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Where this gets interesting is that the deal was actually mentioned on MLB Tonight. Analyst Harold Reynolds thought this could be a solid move because it would allow the Rangers to keep whomever they traded for and then have the freedom to trade Elvis Andrus & Jurickson Profar for whatever other pieces the Rangers need.
What the what?
The deal seems to have ceased gaining any life, but you never know until it actually never happens. For the sake of argument, let’s take a look at everyone involved & see if keeping the player traded for would actually benefit the Rangers in a significant way.
Pastornicky played 76 games for Atlanta at shortstop & did not exactly have a dazzling season. His final slash line is a very mediocre .243/.287/.325. If we dig a little further into the stats, we find that he had a -1.1 WAR, an wOBA (weighted On-Base Average) of .269 & an wRC+ (weighted Runs Created+) of 65. What does all that mean? He was way below average in every way possible. Now, let’s add someone like him to a team that is already trying to figure out what to do to help one player who sported a negative WAR last season (Michael Young) & add another one. It doesn’t make sense. Also, let’s keep in mind that Pastornicky was sent down because his offense was just not up to snuff & he lost his job to Simmons, who finished the season as the regular SS for the Braves.
Let’s assume Andrus stays pat & is the starting SS in 2013. What are we getting with Andrus as compared to Pastornicky?
For starters, the defense will only continue to improve. He only had sixteen errors directly attributed to him, but also it will help if whoever plays second base for him is on top of things as well; I believe our middle infielders will get back to being a double play machine & a lot of little defensive nit picks will get addressed.
Offensively, he ended the season with a .286/.349/.378 slash & his deeper stats are much more impressive than Pastornicky. He had 4.1 fWAR, a wOBA of .322, which is two clicks right above the average mark but still a lot better than Pastornicky, & a wRC+ of 86, which is below the average of 1oo but still better than the alternative.
Profar was no better than Pastornicky in the MLB, but the difference was Profar only played in nine games versus Pastornicky’s seventy-six.
Either way, there would be no sense in keeping Pastornicky when you have Andrus & Profar to consider for a starting job.
As I mentioned earlier, Simmons received the starting SS job in June after the Braves saw enough of Pastornicky & his unimpressive offense. Simmons played 49 games & ended the season with a slash of .289/.335/.416. Hmm, ok. Now we have some comparison to work with in regards to who should stay. Let’s look at the deep stats now.
His WAR is 2.2 & his wOBA is a .324, so he’s not particularly better offensively. His wRC+ is 102. This is where I’m interested. Basically, this means that he created 2% more runs for his team than the league average SS did in 2012. We also see a 16% increase in runs produced against the average between Simmons & Andrus. This suggests two things to me, offensively: 1) Atlanta will not let him go, especially if their alternative is Pastornicky & 2) The Rangers would probably keep him if given the opportunity. The trick with Simmons offensively is to remember that Andrus played 3x as many games, so Simmons’ WAR would probably get closer to Andrus’ if given the same amount of playing time.
Defensively, he only committed three errors in forty-nine games started at SS as compared to Andrus committing sixteen in one hundred and fifty-three games. Simmons’ UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) was a 10.4 versus Andrus’ 8.8. What does that mean exactly? He is committing few errors, displays a good fielding range & he can save runs via the double play. In only one-third the amount of games played by Andrus, Simmons stats show that he is not only comparable, but may be even a slightly better choice defensively if a deal was to happen.
All in all, only one choice would make a better alternative & it won’t happen. The Rangers reportedly are working on a system that would see Andrus stay at SS, Profar being the primary second baseman & Ian Kinsler in left field or traded for something else. I know the Rangers will do what is best for the team, but I believe Andrus & Profar will indeed be everyday middle infield for 2013.
Until next time…