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Will the Real Edgar Renteria Please Stand Up?

February 14, 2009
What should we expect from Edgar Renteria in 2009?

What should we expect from Edgar Renteria in 2009?

To different fan bases, the name “Edgar Renteria” is synonymous with either “steady, reliable shortstop” or “overrated bum.” In the National League, he’s Doctor Jekyll—and, in the American League, he’s Mr. Hyde. Renteria signed a lucrative 4-year, $40 million deal with the Red Sox in 2005. He failed to live up to expectations in the first year of his contract, and was immediately dealt to Atlanta the following year, where he enjoyed two fine seasons. Then he was shipped off to Detroit for right-hander Jair Jurrjens and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez for the 2008 season, where he suffered yet another miserable campaign. The Tigers declined to exercise Renteria’s $11 million option, instead choosing to buy him out for $3 million and not offering the Type A free agent arbitration. The Giants immediately swooped up the veteran shortstop for two years and $18.5 million. What can Giants fans expect from Edgar in 2009—a continuation of his 2008 season, or a return to form?

The correct answer: somewhere in-between. His bipolar 2007 and 2008 seasons are outliers—nothing more, nothing less. Neither season is an indication of his true-talent
level, and we can classify those two seasons into two categories: lucky and unlucky.

Edgar’s a career .290/.347/.405 hitter—he has a good contact rate, moderate plate discipline and little power. He has a career BABIP of .323 with a LD% of 22.8, which tells us that he’s really good at squaring up the ball.

2006: .325 BABIP, 22.5 LD%, .293/.361/.436, 106 mOPS+

2007: .375 BABIP, 23.0 LD%, .332/.390/.470, 115 mOPS+

2008: .294 BABIP, 22.2 LD%, .270/.317/.382, 93 mOPS+

By looking at his slash lines and mOPS+, Edgar hits a sharp decline in 2008—but, looking at his batted ball data, it’s apparent that he hit a patch of bad luck. He was hitting the ball just as hard as he has been throughout his career, but less hits were falling in than usual. As a result, his AVG, OBP and SLG all dropped dramatically. But by how much?

A rough estimate would be to compare his batted ball rate in 2008, compare it to his career average, and add it to his OBP and SLG. If we do that and add a very slight regression, then we wind up with a line of .295/.342/.407, which would leave him at 1% above the average Major Leaguer (as compared to 7% below). But that is nothing more than a very rough estimate. Luckily for us, The Hardball Times has a series of stats for predicting a player’s AVG, OBP and SLG by looking at their batted ball rates, which they refer to as PrAVE, PrOBP, and PrSLG.

According to PrOPS, Edgar was the second luckiest shortstop in 2007 with a predicted line of .292/.351/.436 and a 104 mOPS+ (4% higher than league average, 11% lower than his actual line). On the other hand, Edgar was the second unluckiest shortstop in 2008. Edgar’s line:

2008: .293/.337/.423, 99 mOPS+

This would make Edgar 1% below Major League average, which is far more acceptable and believable than the 7% he posted—and had he put up this line in Detroit, chances are that they would have offered him arbitration. Overall, there was a decline in his offensive skills from 2007-2008—about 5%, which can most likely be attributed to a combination of natural decline due to age and switching to a harder league. But it’s not nearly as dramatic as it appears to be.

For 2009, Oliver (which projects a player’s numbers based on batted ball data) projects Edgar at .285/.339/.411 with 28 doubles and 10 home runs, with a wOBA of .331. This would put Edgar as being league average or slightly below league average with the bat, which sounds about right. Using Rally’s Fielding Projections, we can estimate Renteria’s value in 2009 (prorated to 140 games; I don’t expect him to play 150):

Hitting: +1.1
Defense: -0.05
Position: 0.65
WAR: 1.7
$WAR: $8.16 million

Since the Giants are paying Edgar $7 million in 2009, it looks like this is a fine deal. His production is sure to decline even further in 2010, in which case it’s easy to imagine that the Giants overpaid for his services—but not by much at all. He’s being paid pretty much what he’s actually worth.

-JT

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