Relax Everyone, Corey Patterson’s Here

One way to tell that things aren’t going well for a baseball team is when Corey Patterson is viewed as somewhat of a savior. The former and now current Oriole hit .385/.439/.500 in Triple-A this year, which made people think he would improve the offense. That, and his ability to man center-field, resulted in his promotion to the big leagues.

That seemingly solid batting line is built on a .444 BABIP^ and Patterson hit .296/.336/.475 in the minors last year with a greater than 4 to 10 strike-out to walk ratio and a .356 BABIP. In 2008, he hit .205/.238/.344 in the majors for the Reds. For his career, he’s at .252/.290/.404. He strikes out quite a bit, and never walks (though, admittedly, he does have 5 free passes this year). He probably doesn’t have more than 10-12 HR power at this point. At best, you’re looking at a below average hitter – maybe a .675 OPS… maybe.

Patterson’s value comes entirely with the glove. He’s got a +9.2 UZR/150^ career in center-field, though he’s been just a touch above average since 2007 (his last year with the Orioles in his previous stint). At almost 31 years old, a little above average is about all that one could look for.

With Corey, you’re probably getting a replacement level player overall, and that’s not a whole lot different than what Lou Montanez gives you (though distributed differently between offense and defense). Like with the Rhyne Hughes call-up, this is just a matter of getting a new face in there. Sure Patterson might hit well for a couple games. He might make an outstanding play in center. But at the end of the day, he’s still Corey Patterson – and the team’s that’s expecting him to produce to improve their club is both making a mistake and in some trouble. As just a standard bench player though, it’s really not a big deal.

 Edit: Nolan Reimold appears to be the odd man out. I don’t like that move for two reasons:

(1) Nolan isn’t hitting well, but is still walking a lot and not chasing balls. Hits will start to fall in for him eventually (.242 BABIP).

(2) It means Patterson might actually be starting a lot. And by virtue of his speed, batting lead-off often. .290 career OBP. Seriously, how hard is it to understand that the guy batting in front of the middle of the order should get on base a lot?

Reimold’s batting line is terrible enough to get him sent to Triple-A, and yet he still has a higher OBP this year (.302). I’d not only not send him down, but I’d let him bat lead-off in the majors and move Jones down in the order.