Keith Law: Correct on both counts.
I think calling Ryan Church a platoon player was a bit harsh. He ranked 16th overall in OPS out of every qualified outfielder in the National League. There were 26 overall that were qualified and he outhit Andruw Jones, Bill Hall, Mike Cameron, Chris Young, Austin Kearns, Shane Victorino, Brian, Giles, and Frenchy. Sure they are all not corner outfielders and others supply more than just hitting, but the guy was decent last year.
He was tied for 3rd in doubles despite have about 150 at-bats less than Holliday, Rowand, and Lee. Of course we are talking about guys that still hit 15 to 30 more XBHs with those extra at-bats, but he still hit an extra base hit once every 7.97 at-bats which beats out Lee's 8.25 and Rowand's 8.50. Holliday led the NL with on extra base hit every 6.91 at-bats, but I was shocked to see that Church was actually 7th overall and placed ahead of Carlos Beltran who just missed being in the 7's with an 8.03. For his career, he has hit an extra base hit once every 8.59 at-bat.
If you look at OPS+, it improves his standing a bit and he slides into 12th with 114, which is a touch behind Josh Willingham at 115 and behind Ken Griffy Jr. with 119. If you take a look at his WARP1 with the same cast of characters, he slides to 8th beating out Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Cameron, Shane Victorino, Jeff Franceour, Andruw Jones, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe, Pat Burrell, Carlos Lee, Brian Giles, Chris Young, Jason Bay, Bill Hall, and a few others.
This was a rather crude look and admittedly compares him against players who had a down year in 2007, but even when you factor that in and consider some people had fluky years in which they vastly played over their historical lines, Church does has value as a player that stretches beyond a platoon player. His '07 splits were not indicitive of his three year splits and he hits an acceptable .259 against lefties with an .742 OPS. Obviously there is room for improvement there, but hardly screams platoon player. Just as a reference point, Griffy hit .241 and .770 respectively against lefties over the same period of time. If you look at his '07 alone, he might seem like a platoon candidate and while I do not dismiss the fact he might be, I am willing to give him some more time before I come to that conclusion.
I do think Church could surprise a little bit in 2008 and Met fans will like him. However, people that were not fans of the trade that brought him here have to seperate the two things. Calling him a platoon player is selling him a bit short and bit unfair at this point. Just an aside, Milledge hit .246 and .703 against righties over 2006 and 2007 and while I will not deny his upside and who will be better in 2010, 2008 should have Church being the better of two.
As for Schneider, he was still more valuable than LoDuca last season and I suspect that will continue in '08. However, he is certainly not all that far off from being a backup, but isn't that why he is being paired with Ramon Castro? In terms of an improvement over '07, Castro/Schneider is one, however small. I do not believe we should use anything else to evaluate his inclusion on the team outside of last year as a barometer. We all agree that it was a bad trade and Milledge and Estrada might have been more optimal, but I cannot stress enough that they do improve the team in the short term.
Todd, San Diego : Keith, Of these players, who has the highest ceiling- Jordan Schafer, Fernando Martinez, Colby Rasmus, Matt LaPorta?
Keith Law: (1:31 PM ET ) In order: Martinez, Rasmus, Schafer, LaPorta.
Rasmus is arguably one of the five best minor leaguers at this point and Schafer and LaPorta are pretty damn good as well.
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