Just How Bad Of A Major Leaguer Would I Be?

This idea came up when discussing the possibility of the Yankees signing Matt Holliday on Twitter:

Doesn’t make sense for NY to spend that money on him now. The could put me in LF and still maybe make the playoffs.

Which begs the question, just how many wins could I cost a team if I played a full season? Any guesses, before I try to figure it out?

Seems easy enough to figure out. Same procedure would be used as when evaluating any other player. Take a guess, and then let’s work it out.

First off, the stipulation was that I would get 600 plate appearances in left-field, but I think it’s the case that if I had to play in the field all the time I wouldn’t actually make it to 600 PA. So instead, I’ll go easy on myself and just DH for the season.

Beyond a general lack of physical ability*, I also don’t think I have the necessary mental toughness to play the sport – especially at that level. If I had to stand in there against a pitcher throwing 90+ mph projectiles not all that far away from me, my feet would be touching the chalk in the back corner of the batter’s box, I would be leaning back, and my eyes would very possibly be closed.

* My main position on our softball team is manager. I’m the youngest person on the team. At least a couple of people on the team don’t know many of the actual rules. As you could therefore surmise, I’m not a particularly skilled athlete.

Given my many, many shortcomings with the bat, I’d project myself to hit something like .000/.050/.000*. There would likely be a few instances in which pitchers legitimately couldn’t throw strikes and I’d walk, and I imagine on occasional a pitcher would try to plunk me (it would likely succeed a couple times). There was some speculation from my good buddies at CamdenDepot that I might be able to run into one at some point and raise my batting average, but I think even with a full season of practice I wouldn’t be able to (1) bring myself to stand close enough to attempt to swing, (2) swing effectively enough to make contact, (3) make solid enough contact to not get the bat literally knocked out of my hands, and (4) make it to first-base before the throw. Oh, and I guess get lucky enough that the ball falls in. CD actually suggested that I might be able to punch up a .400 OPS, which is better than the average NL pitcher (though I’m certain they didn’t know that at the time). I’m flattered by their high opinion of me, and so if you were feeling optimistic you could maybe do .050/.100/.050 or something like that.

* I don’t remember where I read this, but I think I saw some data showing that even in situations where a pitcher absolutely wants to throw a strike (an opposing pitcher batting with the bases empty and a 3-0 count, or something like that), he is only successful about 75% of the time. If that’s the case, then my OBP would actually be even lower, as I’d strike out over 96% of the time** and walk less than 4% of the time***. So even the lower batting line might be a touch on the high side, but I think it’s fair.

** Breaking it down:

0 balls, 3 strikes: 42.2%
1 ball, 3 strikes: 31.6%
2 balls, 3 strikes: 15.8%
3 balls, 3 strikes: 6.6%
strike-out: 96.2%

4 balls, 0 strikes: 0.4%
4 balls, 1 strike: 1.2%
4 balls, 2 strikes: 2.2%
walk: 3.8%

*** A 3.8% walk rate would have still been higher than Bengie Molina’s, Miguel Tejada’s, Christian Guzman’s, and Jeff Francoeur’s from 2009. Yuniesky Betancourt has a career 3.4% walk rate. A rock, or a stick, or anything really, would be able to walk more than Yuni. That is an amazing level of hilarious.

The actual optimal strategy might be to bunt every time up if there’s someone on base – I’m a surprisingly good bunter – but I’m not sure the trade-off of advancing the runners versus all the double plays I’d hit into are worth it. We’ll stick with a batting line between the .050 OPS and the .150 OPS.

At the lower projection, I would be worth around -155 runs offensively (relative to the average batter). At the higher projection it would be closer to -135 runs. That is amazingly atrocious. It’s hard to really wrap your head around. You add on the DH penalty*, and I’d be between 13 and 15 Wins Below Replacement. That doesn’t take into account my baserunnning when I get on, but no sense in really piling on. As is, I could single-handily cancel out Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan combined. Or the White Sox entire collection of position players from last season. Also maybe the 2009 Astros, Mets, Giants, Cubs, Pirates, or Reds.

* It just struck me how amusing** it would be to have a Designated Hitter who almost literally couldn’t hit. Maybe the Royals or someone would do it as like, art, or something. Call me Dayton; I’d sign cheaply. And I might actually add some plate discipline to the team.

** Also amusingly, I’d be such a bad hitter that it would make sense to bat me 8th instead of 9th to make sure there were more runners on the bases for the top of the line-up.

So even the Yankees, who are probably about a 100 win team right now, couldn’t add me as a full-time player and still be expected to make the playoffs. If I wanted to pay for the privilege of playing on a major league team, it would cost me something on the order of $45-65 M so that the team could replace the lost production (depending on where I’d fall in the range and the $/WAR – from $3.5 M to $4.5 M). That’s assuming the loss of roster flexibility is offset by the great promotional possibilities. So I guess I probably shouldn’t quit my day job.