Regarding Dan Wheeler and Jason Bartlett

Sternfan brought this up in the thread below and I may as well address it because not much else is going on:

imho, it seems that Wheeler and Barty are this blogs whipping boys--why i don't know and i may be wrong

by sternfan1

Let's focus on these two in particular.

Dan Wheeler is a useful reliever. When the Rays acquired him, he was in the midst of a horrendous season with Houston. Actually, he wasn't at all. You see, Wheeler had posted FIP of 3.28 and 3.24 through his first two seasons with the Astros. In 2007, he held a 3.98 FIP, which was worse than usual, but not egregiously so. Houston traded him because he held a 5.07 ERA with them and appeared broken. Trading Ty Wigginton for him was a swap of blasé veterans, with Wheeler looked upon as a more long-term clog in the system. He came to St. Pete and quickly posted a near-six ERA while posting a 4.04 FIP.

Then he signed what constitutes a slightly below market value extension for a middle reliever. He's pitched worse than before (4.49 and 4.48 FIP) and like most non-elite relievers, has annoying tendencies. Somehow he's held a BABIP of .202 and .203 the last two years despite having BABIP far exceeding that throughout his relieving career and as such has held high strand rates. Oh, and he gives up starting pitcher amounts of homers per fly balls.

Wheeler's niche is as a middle reliever who only faces right-handed batters in high-leveraged situations. That's fine. That's useful. The bullpen is better for having Dan Wheeler than not having Dan Wheeler. The problem is, this team is so use to efficiency that spending market value for an average reliever is A) odd and B) mostly foolish when you can get 90% of the production for 50% of the cost.

Bartlett is more obvious. I've written about this in the past, but before the local media swooned over his charming smile and grittiness, the evil saber blogger was the one priming for a defensive orientated shortstop. Bartlett was that and helped the 2008 Rays win. He helped the 2009 Rays win. He'll help the 2010 Rays win. He wasn't and won't be the main reason they win during any given season. Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, and James Shields were eons more valuable in 2008 and yet the local media made Bartlett from loveable undervalued asset into a laughable caricature of David Eckstein.

His 2009 offensive performance provides the helium to his stock once more. Bartlett's BABIP was .368, only once has he posted a BABIP within .015 points of that (which was 2006 in 372 plate appearances) and he actually hit a career high number of fly balls last season. Here's the thing. Fly balls are great for more home runs and horrible for maintaining high batting averages. Something like 85% of fly balls turn into outs.  

The LD%+.120 trick doesn't work and the far more accurate predictive formula developed by in part by someone in the Rays' front office had Bartlett closer to a .330 BABIP in 2009. Well, if he can maintain a 26% line drive rate ... well, yeah, and exactly one player has maintain a 24%+ line drive rate since the data has been tracked. That player is Michael Young who has a career liner rate just under 25%. He's topped a .360 BABIP for an entire season exactly once.  

Nobody dislikes the players. Some people dislike the circumstances around them; which in this case is salary and hype. Neither of which is the player's fault.

Although Bartlett could stand to smile less. That's Pena's bit.

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