Carleton: The viability of burying a big bat

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on March 17, 2014:

eam captain and 39-year-old farewell tour participant Derek Jeter is currently the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees. That is the way of things and has been since I was in high school. But the Yankees also have Brendan Ryan on their roster. Ryan is a noted defensive wizard while Jeter is [must…not…make…Jeter fielding joke]. However, Ryan “hit” only .197/.255/.273 last year in 349 plate appearances. Is there a case to be made for Ryan as the starting shortstop based on his defensive prowess? Keep in mind that the Yankees could bury Ryan in the batting order to limit his exposure, move the ever-under-appreciated Brett Gardner up to the two-spot, pinch hit for Ryan late in the game, and enjoy that sweet glove for eight innings a night. Is that enough to overtake De-rek Je-ter?

Let’s go one step further and assume that Jeter will return to his 2011 and 2012 form. In those years, he was worth 1.4 and 3.0 Wins Above Replacement Player, respectively. Ryan, in those same years, was worth 3.5 and 1.9 wins, based mostly on his stellar defense. Thanks to Jeter’s injuries and Ryan’s offensive nosedive, the two checked in at roughly replacement level last season. Even discounting Ryan’s expectations a bit, could we not make the case that while they have two very different skillsets, they are at least in the same ZIP code when it comes to overall value?

Okay, so the Yankees aren’t actually going to bench Captain America in favor of Brendan Ryan, but the Yankees aren’t the only team facing this sort of a decision. This is a classic bat vs. glove positional battle. The Dodgers seem confused about whether to play Alexander Guerrero at second base, despite the fact that he does not appear to own a glove. Their other option is to play some utility type there who has a decent glove, but not much of a bat. Michael Morse and Gregor Blanco have a similar dynamic going in San Francisco.

What’s the cost of carrying a starter who can’t hit? It’s true that a team really can bury him in the nine-hole if they want. But what if a team tried carrying two of these players? Three?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 17, 2014. Last Updated: March 17, 2014.