J.J. Hardy - buying low? or taking a flier?

Q.  But if Hardy's line drive % has gone down the last 5 years -- how then do you explain how 2008 was his best year at the plate? 2007 was very similar. So until 2009, Hardy seemed to be coming into his own.

A.  Well, first of all, there are two reasonable interpretations of Hardy's trend.  The positive interpretation is that the LD% doesn't matter, I guess.  A Shandlerite might say, "once a player shows a skill, he owns it," and the 2007-08 production could be viewed as latent.

The pessimistic interpretation is that the underlying skills are what matter, and that the results are superficial.


A.  Re:  "if his line drive % has gone down" ...  that's not an "if," or an interpretation, or anything like that.  It's been the outcome.

It isn't a doctored string of numbers in the "possibly misleading" category, like maybe John Danks' K/BB drop doesn't mean much (which maybe it doesn't).  Hardy has been squaring up the ball, less and less, dating back to 2005. 

Every year, by a huge margin, he's won the pitcher-hitter battle less and less oftener.   From 2005 to 2006, he won 10% fewer battles by the LD measure.  Then in 2007, he won 10% fewer battles than in 2006.  Then in 2008, he won 10% fewer battles again.

Then in 2009, he won 10% fewer battles again, and that put him into a situation where he couldn't play MLB baseball any more.


The essence of sabermetrics is in the trends.   It isn't that James taught us to look at K/BB -- he taught us to look at the delta between K/BB from year 1 to year 2.

When you've got four straight deltas in the same direction, well... if you're not going to weigh that heavily, sabermetrics is not your bag.


The pitch data is just about the worst possible:  he's eaten alive by cut fastballs riding into him and sliders riding away, and his platoon splits are a big problem -- .510 SLG vs lefties, .401 vs righties. 

Think Adrian Beltre.   Eaten alive by tough righty pitches, pads the stats against long men, etc., when the pitchers aren't in throat-slash mode.

He's looking for mistakes, and if a pitcher does something dumb (as they all do sometimes) he'll look good on a mortar shot into the bullpen.   But what about when you're trying to beat John Lackey or Jarrod Weaver in a tough ballgame?   How much help is such a hitter then?


Q.  How could a J.J. Hardy have a good season, despite the fact that his 5-year-trend is awful? 

A.  It happens all the time. You just saw an example of it, in Seattle.

It happened to Adrian Beltre in 2008 -- he saw an unusual number of good pitches, I guess, and he managed to coax 25 pitches over the wall for a 109 OPS+.  But the trends were lousy, including the HR depth and the platoon splits (Adrian SLG'd .571 vs LHP in 2008).

In 2008, Beltre had a much better season than he "should have" had.  Fine.  More power to him.  But just don't bet on him the next year.

Many sources, including us and the Hardball Times, warned rotodudes off of Beltre's 2008.  The stats were good, the seismo's bad.  It happens.


Little roto tip for yer:  when a righty batter is feasting off lefties, short-term ... but struggling against RHP? .... be V-E-R-Y careful.   J.J. Hardy has cherry-picked LHP's his entire career, even when he was going good.

Now you're taking a guy who was washed out of the NL, and trying to make a reclamation project out of him.  I'd be V-E-R-Y iffy about that, if it were Wrigley Field in the NL.

But now we want to compound the interest by making Hardy hit AL pitching, in Death Valley?   Yowch.   That's not buying low.  It's taking a flier.


Like we sez before, Hardy's a plus fielder, +10 runs a year, so if you think you can get a 80 OPS+ out of him for $5M, that's reasonable.  I wouldn't go giving marquee talent for a reclamation project, but if the Brew would take a Michael Saunders type for him, I might roll the dice.

My $0.02,

Dr D


image:  Crusty Juggler at MC ... thx man :- )



I'd be interested to hear their assessments on Hardy in roto terms.  The M's deal for him, and he comes over to the AL...
The plan is to snag him if he falls to the #7 shortstop -- buying low?
Or the plan is maybe to stash him if he falls to the #13 shortstop -- taking a flier?
This is a guy you expect to rebound, or that you hope will rebound?


Be careful about line drive rate.  Home run hitters have pedestrian to bad line drive rates.  This includes Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols last year...  So the question is whether or not JJ Hardy will have a successful future as a flyball hitter.
My take is that as a moderate power RH hitter, his upside with the bat in an M's uniform is 2009 Jose Lopez, while his down side is Jeff Cirillo.  I don't trade a real asset for him, so no Morrow for Hardy trade if I'm in charge.  Not that I'm right, it just seems that Morrow and Hardy have similar down side, while Hardy doesn't have much upside.
My second take is that you have to have a shortstop and I don't want it to be Josh Wilson. 

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