Spreadsheet Baseball: Paging Dr. Jekyll

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a classic novella written by the very late Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1886 (if Wikipedia is to be believed on such matters). The story's main premise--the split personality of good and evil--has been ingrained into culture to the point where many people who have never read the story or heard of Robert Louis Stevenson use the phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" to describe a volatile, back-and-forth behavior of someone or something. For what it's worth, I recommend reading the novella itself; the TV show "Wishbone" on PBS got me hip to the tragic tale, and the excellent children's movie "The Pagemaster" had a cartoon cameo of the famous duo of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. That's why I knew of the concept of "Jekyll and Hyde" from an early age, but I don't think that "Wishbone"--excellent show though it was--or "The Pagemaster"--big screen achievement though it was--gives you a full appreciation for the difference between Henry and Ed.

The last couple weeks I've been content to let some excellent diaries and the playoff game open threads dictate discussion, as there really wasn't a topic that jumped out at me to write in the aftermath of the Royals season ending. I had worn out the art of dissecting Buddy Bell's affect on the team, so that made little sense, and it's a little early to figure out the Royals direction this off-season when it comes to Free Agent possibilities. We can list them, of course, and pick out the ones we want, but, distressingly for some, what new faces end up in KC for the 2008 season is up to the suit-wearers in the Royals front office.

But when you can speculate, why bother not speculating? The NLCS is over, thanks to the Diamonbacks flaws suddenly catching up to them with a vengeance and the Rockies incredible play. The ALCS is still going, and interesting even if you're not invested in anyone, but the nights off baseball are going to be boring. When you finish another losing season and you're eager to see if you're team really is honest-to-god finally starting to turn things around, you want to look at anything possible to get you going towards 2008, especially if the Red Sox win the ALCS. Those damn Red Sox.

That said, since we're not even to the point before the Free Agent signing period opens up, it makes a lot of sense to look at what we have on the current roster. With that, and an apppropriate dose of speculation mixed in, Spreadsheet Baseball this week takes a look at the Royals' current roster...and what each player with turn out to be if Jekyll or Hyde wins out. I will handle position players this week, and pitchers sometime very soon.

Billy Butler, 1B-DH
.292/.347/.447 in 360 PAs
VORP: 11.6
EQA: .265
WARP1: 1.2

2007 Overview

Butler was a godsend to the Royals offense in he could actually tag the ball when he got ahold of one, even if he tailed off a bit towards the end of the season. In his age 21 season, Butler was basically a league average designated hitter who showed flashes of pop, the ability to hit for a good average, and became more walk friendly as the season went forward. These are all positives, and the fact remains that, having held his own at Age 21, Butler's got a lot of room for growth as a hitter and it's not yet a foregone conclusion that first base won't grow on him. If there are any negatives, it's that his weight could become a problem...if he stays around this amount of mean on his bones as his matures muscularly, he could be absolutely huge in five years.

If Billy Jekyll Wins his career looks like: John Olerud's, only a hundred pounds heavier, with no batting helmet on the field, and significantly less defense.

If Billy Hyde Wins his career looks like: Dmitri Young's without 2003 and hopefully without the marital issues.

Which is more likely? Toss-up. Remember, a lot of the time great prospects become merely above average players.

Mark Grudzielanek, 2B
.302/.346/.426 in 486 PAs
VORP: 18.1
EQA: .258
WARP1: 3.9

2007 Overview

Per at-bat, Grudzielanek was a better hitter this year than last, as evidenced by the ten point increase in EQA over 2006. His defense declined a bit, but he's still acceptable at the deuce. In terms of hitting, it seems like he could go on hitting at about this level until the rapture, quite frankly. He led the Royals in hitting VORP this season, which is a positive achievement for him and a little depressing for the Royals. If there's any negatives here, it's that middle infielders his age can disappear at any moment.

Jekyll Says: There's no reason he can't do this again next year.

Hyde Sneers: Even Mark McLemore was dead at age 38. And Bret Boone was at 36. What chance do you have?

Who do I agree with? Jekyll. I'm starting to think Grudzielanek is unkillable.

Tona Pena Jr., SS
.267/.284/.356
VORP: -7.6
EQA: .229
WARP1: 2.8

2007 Overview

Tony Pena Jr. is very nifty to have on the defensive side of the ball, to the point where his pathetic hitting is offset enough that he's not really "the problem," if still a position where the Royals could easily upgrade. He simply cannot hit, which is a bit of a problem now that SS isn't supposed to be a "give up" position offensively.

If Tony Jekyll Wins, his career looks like:   Mike Bordick's with no steroid-era inflation.

If Tony Hyde Wins, his career looks like: Angel Berroa's post ROY performance, only with defense.

Which is more likely? (Sigh) Hyde. There's a chance Pena will become totally exposed at the plate next year, and he has hardly any upside.

Harry Potter, 3B
.247/.314/.411
VORP: 3.1
EQA: .245
WARP1: 2.2

2007 Overview

Potter started off his Royals career on a bad note, struggling over much of the first two months of the season before turning it around--offensively and defensively--in the second half of the season. If there was anything distressing about Harry's second half performance, it was that continued to lack patience, swinging his wand at any baseball that moved and striking out 137 times on the year. He still showed good pop (15 homers) and we really got to see down the stretch the player we thought we'd see in April.

If Harry Jekyll Wins, he becomes: Albus Dumbledore.

If Harry Hyde Wins, he becomes: Severus Snape.

Or a happy medium, maybe? Sure, how about Mad-Eye Moody's career averages?

Emil Brown, LF
.257/.300/.357 in 397 PAs
VORP: -9.0
EQA: .226
WARP1: 0.6

2007 Overview

Brown never really looked like the thoroughly average leftfielder he was for the past two seasons, getting off to a slow start and losing playing time to Joey Gathright and Shane Costa. He did slightly better as the season went on, but overall his season was still terrible. Brown may have been hindered by sporadic playing time in the second half, but the fact remains that, even if you assume his batting average decline was a fluke, his IsoP (100) dropped to downright bad levels for a someone who's supposed to be one of the team's better hitters.

If Emil Jekyll Wins, then next year he's: uh, well, Emil Brown 2005.

If Emil Hyde Wins, then next year he's: okay, this is probably very unexciting, but Emil Brown 2006.

Which is more likely? The Hyde version shows up. The cruddy thing for late-bloomers like Brown is that they don't necessarily stay late once they're here.

Joey Gathright, LF-CF
.307/.371/.342 in 261 PAs
VORP: 0.6
EQA: .246
WARP1: 1.3

2007 Overview

Gathright had the best season of his career thus far with the Royals, riding a high BABIP to a great first month. As the BABIP number started to regress, he looked a bit too much like Joey Gathright again. There's still no indication that he can play defense well enough to play center on a regular basis, and his arm makes him questionable as a plus in the field anywhere. He did work the count better this season than in others, but the problem remains that the lad has no power whatsoever.

If Joey Jekyll Wins, his career looks like: Scott Pod's 2005, complete with a home run in the World Series.

If Joey Hyde Wins, his career looks like: any fifth outfielder in the history of baseball who can run.

Jekyll or Hyde: realistically, I'm not sure how much it matters. Either way, he's unlikely to have much of an impact.

Shane Costa, Clean-Up Hitter
.223/.257/.301 in 109 PAs
VORP: -7.7
EQA: .180
WARP1: -.1

2007 Overview

At some point, you have to feel for Costa. This seems like the fifthteenth straight year that he's done well in the minors and then pissed the bed when called up. He shares the unwanted distinction of being worse than Emil Brown with Jason LaRue. But at least his FRAA was above average!

If Shane Jekyll Wins, then his career looks like: this guy's career line. Which is enough to contribute a little and collect a big league paycheck...and a big big league paycheck if the Cardinals inexplicably sign you.

If Shane Hyde Wins, then his career looks like: Michael Restovich's, in that he probably will deserve another chance but won't make the most of it.

David DeJesus, CF
.260/.351/.372 in 703 PAs
VORP: 12.0
EQA: .266
WARP1: 2.3

2007 Overview

By now, everyone probably already knows that DeJesus got off to great start, predicably regressed towards his career norms...and fell off a cliff in the second half. To make matters worse, his normally solid defense fell off according to FRAA. Basically, the only reason DDJ was any help this year is because the Royals did not have a better option and because he was able to log 703 PAs, first on the team. Remember, VORP is a counting stat on some level.

If David Jekyll Wins, then next season he...goes back to being the DDJ of 2005-06, which seems like it would require frequent days off. DDJ might just be a player who does best when getting only 500 PAs a season.

If David Hyde Wins, then this is yet another case of an average, average-plus outfielder starting his decline before age 30.

NHZ Odds? 50-50. I think the idea of allowing Gathright to spell him in center a couple times a week is a good one.

Mark Teahen, RF
.285/.353/.410 in 608 PAs
VORP: 11.9
EQA: .260
WARP1: 4.7

2007 Overview

It was a down year for Mark Teahen, but the main question is whether it was because of lingering results of his off-season shoulder surgery or because he just is not as good as the player we saw in '06. Positive include that he took extremely well to playing in right field, as he rated 12 on the FRAA scale, and that maintained his plate discipline of a year ago despite not having much power to back it up with. The Negatives are obvious: 7 home runs versus last year's 18, and this year he had 150 more PAs.

If Mark Jekyll Wins, then he becomes: the mean performances of Rusty Greer sans constant injuries.

If Mark Hyde Wins, then he becomes: this. A below average corner outfielder due to lack of power.

Which is more likely? I still really think Teahen's got a good deal of upside left in him, and that some of 2007's power woes were due to surgery. How's .290/.360/.460 sound?

If Hyde does win...can Teahen handle center? It would certainly be a good way of ensuring he's still a plus, and he was a hell of a right fielder so this gives me hope no matter what's in store for Mark.

Ross Gload, 1B-"OF"
.287/.318/.441 in 346 PAs
VORP: 5.7
EQA: .253
WARP1: 1.3

2007 Overview

Gload was the classic example of a bench player/spot starter that played more than usual because of a bad offense. He was able to maintain the level of power he's shown before (moderate) over more PAs, but as he hit a non-fluky .287, his lack of patience became clear. He's below average no matter wher you put him in the field, though he's good enough to handle first base okay.

If Ross Jekyll Wins: you're looking at it. A useful bench player who sticks with the Royals at a cheap cost and can possibly be flipped for a prospect at the deadline.

If Ross Hyde Wins: then Gload will disappear as fast as he appeared. Like Brown, he's one of those player who fought his way to the majors late, and now will probably exit on schedule.

If the Hyde version of the new manager wins? then this is your starter at first base for the Royals in 2008.

Esteban German, "UTIL"
.264/.351/.376 in 405 PAs
VORP: 5.1
EQA: .251
WARP1: 1.0

2007 Overview

Ah, heck. Well, 2006 was nice while it lasted for German, but the fact of the matter is there was a reason in the first place that German's 2006 was so surprising: his only real skills are good plate discipline and modest pop, as he's never going to hit .322 again and he's a below average no matter where you put him (though he's servicable at second). However, expectations aside, he's still a fine utility player, if not the hero he was in 2006.

If Esteban Jekyll Wins then 2007 was fluky because German's really a .280 hitter, which would make him a suitable replacement for Grudzielanek if the latter ever gets old.

If Esteban Hyde Wins then he doesn't bounce back towards his 2006 levels and starts to look suspiciously like D'Angelo Jimenez.

John Buck
.222/.308/.429 in 399 PAs
VORP: 7.8
EQA: 246
WARP1: 2.9

2007 Overview

While definitely a breakout year, Buck faded as the season went on after a blistering start to the year where he was the team's best hitter over the first couple months. Buck showed more pop and plate discipline than ever before, which is encouraging for the future. The concern is that his drop in batting average was real and not Buddy Bell-induced: Buck had to fight to get in the line-up over the terrible Jason LaRue. While many people hated on Buck's defense, his FRAA had him as average on the dot.

If John Jekyll Wins, he becomes: a late-bloomer in the Ramon Hernandez mold, as next year he hits .250 and his power and patience stay put.

If John Hyde Wins, he doesn't improve a lick.

Which is more likely? I actually am going with Jekyll on this one, as I don't think Buck's really so bad that .222 is the best average he can muster.

Ryan Shealy, 1B
.221/.286/.308 in 189 PAs
VORP: -9.7
EQA: .201
WARP1: -.2

2007 Overview

Shealy would do well to try and forget this year, where he pancaked after a reasonably promising 2006 intro. It's possible this year's performance had to do with injury, and definite that it had to do with Shealy having the bat speed of my four-year-old sister (Sorry about that, Jenny).

If Ryan Jekyll Wins, his career looks like: Ryan Garko's, in that he won't be a star but will play a solid second fiddle to Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Does the last part of that sentence seem familar?

If Ryan Hyde Wins, his career looks like: There will be no career for Mr. Shealy. But maybe we can keep the "I, Shealy" routine around anyway because that was pretty funny.

Which is more likely? I hate to be a Gloomy Gus...but then, my first name is Gus. So I'm betting against Shealy being a useful starter for now.

Jason LaRue, "Anti-Christ"
.148/.240/.272 in 195 PAs
VORP: -13.0
EQA: .175
WARP1: .4 (take that, Shealy and Costa!)

2007 Overview

LaRue was a candidate for the worst hitter in baseball at any level and sucked a ridiculous amount of starts away from our hero John Buck. He was (sigh) fine defensively.

If Jason Jekyll Wins: there is no Jason Jekyll.

If Jason Hyde Wins: Jason LaRue will pollute some other team's roster with his amazing ability to be worth negative one wins with the bat in less than 200 PAs.

That's all for this week, folks. Hopefully Doctor J makes out okay when it comes to the Royals current talent...as well as Dayton Jekyll making an appearance when it comes to free agent acquisitions. Stay tuned for the pitching staff in the days that follow, and I hope it's warmer whereever you live than it is up here.

Spreadsheet Baseball returns next week with more extended analogies or metaphors or whatever that was. I haven't taken an english class this year. As always, comments/questions are welcome/encouraged.

EDIT to the EDIT: for those not familar with the stats used in the above article, the explanations are listed at the BP glossary: WARP1. EQA. FRAA..

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