Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Dude Sucks

welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a series of posts about professional athletes who suck. not on penises (although we can't rule that out), but just at their jobs as professional athletes. maybe they're not the worst players around, but they likely represent stupid acquisitions for their respective teams or are over-rated by the general public. and we have taken it upon ourselves to shed light on their general shittiness.

up first, aaron rowand, a bum if ever there was one. aaron rowand had a career year on a phenomenal world series championship team in 2007. for the most part, rowand batted fifth in lineup that featured 2007 MVP jimmy rollins, shane victorino, chase utley, and 2006 MVP ryan howand ahead of him in that order. rowand was usually followed in the lineup by pat burrell. without doing any specific research, it is more likely than not that rowand often was hitting with batters on base. 

the phillies played their home games at citizens bank park. gives citizens bank park a park factor of 104 for hitting, indicating that it favors hitters (100 is neutral). baseball prospectus gave citizens bank park a park factor of 1022 in 2007, with 1000 being the neutral baseline. basically, the park is a slight hitters park. also, 2007 happened to be a contract year for rowand, meaning he had extra motivation to put up some great numbers. 

taking into account all of the preceding factors, it's no wonder rowand had a terrific statistical season in 2007. in fact, among the 17 full-time starting (500+ plate appearances) centerfielders in 2007, rowand ranked second in batting average, third in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and fourth in runs, home runs, and RBI. he also turned in a .995 fielding percentage, compared to the average for the 17 full-time starters of .990 (although it is noted that fielding percentage is a pretty useless metric). further, he was paid $4.35 million in 2007, which compares favorably to the average for the larger group of $5.51 million. however, it should be noted that 2007 was rowand's age 29 season, whereas the average age for a full-time starting centerfielder in 2007 was 28. 

so then what happened in the off-season? the san francisco giants gave him a five-year, $60 million contract, making rowand the third highest paid full-time starting centerfielder in 2008, trailing only carlos beltran and torii hunter. but for a guy who ranked in the top 5 at his position in almost every meaningful statistical category the prior year, surely such a contract is reasonable, right? that must've been the rationale employed by brian sabean, the giants GM.

now with new contract in hand, what did aaron rowand do in 2008, his first year with the giants? he went out and turned in just about the most average season possible. among the 20 qualifying full-time starting centerfielders, rowand ranked 18th in runs, 13th in home runs, 10th in RBI, ninth in batting average, 10th in on-base percentage and 12th in slugging percentage. basically, he was the best of the worst among starting centerfielders, although you can't solely blame rowand for ranking near the bottom in runs and RBI - the giants' offense was awful in 2008. that's not rowand's fault, that's sabean's fault for putting together a miserable team. on the defensive side, rowand had a .991 fielding percentage, compared to the average of .990. however, he did have the second highest range factor, which is a function of putouts and assists per inning played. it should be noted that the average salary for full-time centerfielders in 2008 was $3.21 million, less than half what the giants paid rowand. and the average age for full-time starters was 26, while 2008 was rowand's age 30 season. so the giants were grossly overpaying for a remarkably average, aging centerfielder.

but maybe 2008 wasn't the real aaron rowand, you say. after all, new team, new city, new home ballpark, surely he should be granted some sort of mulligan for the associated adjustment period. he was only average anyway, it wasn't like he was the worst full-time starter (just the most overpaid).

so what has the 2009 MLB season brought for aaron rowand? more absurdly mediocre production. among the 21 full-time starting centerfielders with 350 or more plate appearances to date, rowand ranks 19th in runs, 15th in home runs, 13th in RBI, 11th in batting average, 14th in on-base percentage and 11th in slugging. and he's only making about three times the average salary for full-time starters. he's also four years older than the average starter's age. and his one redeeming quality form 2008, his range factor, has declined to 2.44, well below the average of 2.60. 

while it may be too early to definitively say so, it definitely appears that rowand is on the decline. unfortunately, his annual contract payments are following an opposite trend: rowand's salary increases to $12 million for the 2010 through 2012 seasons. by the time rowand's contract expires he'll be 34 and likely won't be worth starting, or even playing at all, let alone $12 million. 

there's also the empirical evidence from just watching rowand play: booting balls in the outfield, swinging at the first pitch regardless of the situation, popping up with runners in scoring position. what's the matter with rowand? HE'S A BUM!

sure, he gives the giants a veteran presence. he's also been on successful teams. he's been remarkably healthy, which has to count for something, right? or would you rather have your hopelessly average (and declining) centerfielder get hurt so you can try and get someone more productive out there? eh, we giants fans probably won't find out until 2013 or so, if the world lasts that long

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1 comment:

  1. He's dinged up all the time and insists on being in the line up everyday because he's a "gamer". Not being at full health isn't the most conducive to being fully productive. This tells me that not only is he a middling center fielder, but also that he is more interested in showing how tough he is rather than helping the Giants field the best team possible for that given day.

    You also forgot to mention that his throwing arm can be likened to cannon. Every-so-often he'll gun somebody down, like he did with Cory Sullivan today. Other times, I wouldn't be surprised if he hit the side of a pirate ship or a Confederate officer instead of the base that he's trying to throw to.

    The only reputation I built by running into a wall at full steam was that of a guy that doesn't look where he's going.