Media's Most Wanted: BJ Upton a/k/a Most Surprising/Disappointing


Last week we took a look at the local sports media selections for the first half MVP of the Rays. Most Valuable Player debates in any sport can take on many angles based on true talent, contract values, "clutch" ability, and value relative to an available replacement among many others. It would seem far easier and uniform to measure surprises and disappointments. Isn't that exactly what projections are, expectations? This year Fangraphs allowed fans to imput their own projections for players which produced an aggregate Fans projection. What better baseline could there be to determine who has been disappointing or surprising to the fans?

Before we begin, lets' see what our step-brothers in the mainstream media had to say on the topic. Roger Mooney suggests John Jaso and Sean Rodriguez as the biggest surprises, while Marc Topkin selected Jaso, Rodriguez and Joaquin Benoit. As for most disappointing the scribes were in agreement at the top: BJ Upton. Topkin selected in order: Upton, Navarro, Bartlett, Pena, and Burrell. Mooney narrowed the field down to Upton, Bartlett, and Pena before concluding:

Upton is finally healthy, which makes his production at the plate maddening. He also leads the club in dugout altercations provoked.

This one goes to Upton by a nose.

 Since the writers selected exclusively hitters, that seems like a fine place to begin our analysis. We will look at the fans' wOBA projection for each hitter with 100 plate appearances, followed by their wOBA through Friday's game. A negative number in the (+/-) catagory recognizes disappointment:

wOBA(fp)

wOBA

(+/-)

Pena

0.381

0.325

-0.056

Bartlett

0.343

0.295

-0.048

Kapler

0.314

0.266

-0.048

Navarro

0.298

0.262

-0.036

Upton

0.361

0.331

-0.030

Rodriguez

0.345

0.321

-0.024

Aybar

0.328

0.305

-0.023

Zobrist

0.374

0.361

-0.013

Brignac

0.312

0.308

-0.004

Longoria

0.386

0.388

0.002

Crawford

0.364

0.398

0.034

Jaso

0.306

0.355

0.049

 *John Jaso's projection represents his 2009 wOBA in AAA adjusted by average penalty faced by Rodriguez, Brignac, and Jaso for advancing to the the majors.

The first thing worth pointing out is either the fans overrate our players, they have underperformed due to "luck" or the FIre Derek Shelton campaign will be a few months from commencement. Only three of twelve players have outperformed the fans' expectations to date. It turns out Carlos Pena has been the biggest disappoint, with the oft-maligned BJ Upton only slightly more than half as disappointing. Jason Bartlett, Gabe Kapler, and Dioner Navarro all serve comfortably as a buffer between Pena and Upton.

This is not me being an Upton apologist so much as pointing out the disproportionate amount of criticism he receives. 5 out of 12 in terms of disappointment, yet he was selectedin stereo by the scribes. Furthermore one of their choices for biggest surprise, Sean Rodriguez, has actually underperformed his expectation by just .006 more than Upton.  Based on the reaction on the radio and in the stands, the power of the local media to steer people away from their own expectations cannot be denied. The good news is that if the New York series is any indication, the biggest disappointments should regress. Pena, Bartlett, Upton, and Kapler all had a nice series at the plate.

How about the rotation according to FIP?:

 

FIP(fp)

FIP

(+/-)

Wade Davis

3.77

5.69

-1.92

Matt Garza

3.87

4.42

-0.55

James Shields

3.87

4.27

-0.40

Jeff Niemann

4.13

4.21

-0.08

David Price

4.01

3.60

0.41

Wade Davis serves as a lesson in jumping on small sample size. It is insane to think he was projected as being the staff ace by the fans! Once again, the fans seems to have their hopes a bit too high as only David Price has exceeded expectations to date. The good news is with 75% of hitters underperforming the fans' expectations, and 80% of the rotation doing the same, the Rays still manaaged to position themselves as the wildcard favorite at the midway point.

How about the bullpen?:

 

FIP(fp)

FIP

(+/-)

Andy Sonnanstine

4.44

4.88

-0.44

Lance Cormier

4.39

4.78

-0.39

Rafael Soriano

3.03

2.88

0.15

Grant Balfour

3.41

2.29

1.12

Dan Wheeler

4.5

3.22

1.28

Randy Choate

4.58

3.06

1.52

Joaquin Benoit

4.82

2.14

2.68

Finally a bright spot! Benoit has obviously been amazing. Choate and Wheeler are having fantastic years largely in part to great usage by Maddon as a two-headed reliever.  Even Rafael Soriano has outperformed his very lofty projections to date. The lowest leverage relievers are the only ones to disappoint, and I think any team would settle for that deal.

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