It is time for one of my favorite games, guess the blind slash line! In this game, I give you the slash line for two players, only I don’t tell you who they are (unless you read the title of the blog post, but let’s not get bogged down in details). Then, I slowly reveal additional details and you decide which player you would rather have in the lineup everyday. Let’s play!
Player A: .289/.327/.431
Player B: .271/.327/.438
Ooh! Very clever, those slash lines are so similar. Player A can hit for average a bit better, but Player B has a little more power and a better walk rate. Still, basically the same. It is almost like it is some sort of trick! But don’t fret, you don’t have to choose just yet.
Now, for the additional details. One of these players can play superlative defense at a premium position and steal a lot of bases. The other plays no defense and can barely walk briskly without looking like his leg is going to shatter into a million pieces. D’oh! I think that last clue might’ve been a giveaway.
So who do you want? Of course you want the guy with speed and defense. That player would be Player B, as in Bourjos. And that slash line is his line from 2011. That makes Player A Kendrys Morales and that slash line is his current numbers for this season.
And now a new question: knowing who the players and the year their slash lines are from, do you regret taking Player B? If you do, that makes you like Mike Scioscia, because Scioscia has been actively choosing Morales over Bourjos for most of the last two months. That’s good because Mike Scioscia is usually right. It is also not so good because he might be wrong here.
Player A supporters (you Red state sonzabitches!), would likely argue that I cherry-picked Bourjos’ slash line. Guilty as charged. I totally did. That’s because his 2012 slash line is an ugly .230/.291/.349. Who would want that? Mike Scioscia certainly doesn’t, that’s why Morales has 118 more plate appearances that Bourjos. He’s not wrong for doing that, but he also isn’t right either. Using Morales because of his better offensive production this season ignored the second half of our game with those additional details about base stealing and defense. You know what doesn’t ignore baserunning and defense? WAR… the statistic, not the act of violence, that kind of war is bad. It is also in lower-case letters. There’s a difference.
WAR, fWAR to be exact, values at Kendrys at 0.6 because he is basically a free-swinging, slap-hitting DH that makes Bengie Molina look like Usain Bolt on the basepaths. But fWAR rates Bourjos at 1.1 thanks mostly to his tremendous defensive prowess. Yup, turns out the glove can matter as much as the bat. Who knew? Of course it may not matter quite as much as fWAR says because it uses a different defensive valuation than rWAR which values Morales at 1.1 and Bourjos at 0.9. Yep, turns out I cherry-pick my WAR stats too.
So, I will ask one last time, who do you choose? Bourjos or Morales?
Go ahead and guess because there is no right answer. It really boils down to a matter of preference. If you are the type that really values defense and would love to see the outfield defense upgraded by putting Bourjos in center, Trout in left and Trumbo at DH, your choice is obvious, especially if you think that Bourjos can rebound in the second half and put up offensive numbers not far from what he posted in 2011. But if power and lineup balance is your thing, the switch-hitting Morales is your man, especially if you believe that his power will continue to slowly return to him as his mangled leg gets stronger and the rust continues to flake off his long dormant swing.
The reason I pose this quandry despite not having a real answer is that the Angels are going to be forced to choose between these two in the next few weeks or months. If they like Morales more, then we could see the Angels finally give in and trade Bourjos as soon as this trade deadline. If they like Bourjos more, they could decide that Morales is not worth his salary and trade or non-tender him this off-season. But they could also keep them both. It won’t be easy as it will lead to this exact same roster logjam conundrum that they currently find themselves in, especially if they re-sign Torii Hunter or, heaven forbid, get the notion to try and play Vernon Wells once again. For a team low on quality prospects, moving either of these young(ish) assets is not a decision they should make lightly, said the blogger who just reduced said decision to a faux game show contest.