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Career Analysis: J.T. Snow

June 29, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I figured I’d add a fan (and personal) favorite in J.T. Snow. By using Sean Smith’s Historical Wins Above Replacement Database, we can measure different components of a player’s game as they age over the course of their career. Here’s what we’re measuring:

-Hitting is measured by team and park-adjusted batting runs, and I’ve included GIDP runs in the totals.

-Baserunning is measured not just by the player’s ability to steal bases, but by their ability to take the extra base, etc.

-Defense is measured by TotalZone, and these figures include Snow’s ability to turn the double play.

Snow RAR

The son of former Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Jack Snow, J.T. was drafted by the New York Yankees during the 1989 in the fifth round by future Giants General Manager Brian Sabean. Snow was dealt to Anaheim in 1993 as part of a deal for left-hander Jim Abbott, where he played four below replacement level seasons. Sabean, recognizing Snow’s talent, brought him to San Francisco in 1997 for pitchers Allen Watson and Fausto Macey. Immediately Snow posted his finest season with 31 Runs Above Replacement. J.T. followed that campaign with slightly above average seasons until 2004, when he posted a .416 wOBA and the best season he ever had at 36 years of age.

Snow Components

J.T. was a solid, albeit unspectacular, player.  He really peaked at 29, and his baserunning and defense remained relatively stable throughout the course of his career.  TotalZone isn’t a big fan of Snow’s defense, and I have to disagree wholeheartedly with their ratings.  It is possible that his range wasn’t as good as meets the eye.  The one thing that TotalZone does not include are the first baseman’s ability to handle throws, and anyone that watched Snow would recognize him as one of the most sure-handed glovemen in all of Baseball.  Sean Smith also released a spreadsheet of first basemen “scoops” over the years, and how many runs above or below players were- sure enough, J.T. ranked 10th overall with 21.7 runs saved over the course of his 16-year career, averaging 1.36 runs saved per season.  But since I don’t have the single-season data, I can’t incorporate that into Snow’s RAR.

J.T. was a fan favorite because of his gritty style of play, his “clutch” hitting, his good looks, and his reputation for being a class act.  Baseball players are not defined as being “great” based on numbers alone.  Snow might be lacking in that department to a certain extent, but there’s no ignoring his popularity or intangibles.  He’ll always hold a special place in the heart of many San Francisco fans, including myself.

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