Blowing it up: the final DeRo comparison, from me anyway
While I realize that some of us want to have a DeRosa lovefest, I'm playing the realist today on this, Christmas Eve. (To prove my point: Jesus wasn't actually born on Dec 25.) However, between paragraphs I will have tidbits called DeRo Facts to help stem the tide of resistance from those who would fluff him if they could.
Mark DeRosa could have been an MMA champion, but he instead chose to devote his time to saving the lives of sick puppies and kittens.
Fact: Mark DeRosa had a career year in 2008. In the past few days, one or three people have repeatedly said that I've been ignoring certain statistics or facts when arguing about DeRosa, but I haven't read much acknowledgment on their part about this piece of truth. At the age of 33 (Fact: players tend to do worse at the age of 34 than they did at the age of 33, or 32, or 31), he hit .285 with 21 homeruns - 8 more than his previous best. He drove in a career high 87 RBI. He had a career high .857 OPS - a full 87 points better than his career average. His numbers put him among the best second basemen out there, at least offensively.
Mark DeRosa was expelled from the NASA astronaut program because they refused to let him get to the moon on a starship powered by his immense, unmeasurable willpower. He called them "pussies" and they kicked him out.
DeRosa also played 38 games in right last year, 32 of which were as a starter. He's played 150 games in RF in total in his career, incidentally. It is of my opinion that DeRosa would probably be somewhat below average as a right fielder over the span of a full season because I doubt he has the arm you'd want from that position. Regardless, some people who know more than me about defense say he'd be above average.
Mark DeRosa has single-handedly ended the regime of four communist dictators in various South American countries. He fights for democracy. He fights ... for freedom.
Regardless, DeRosa as a regular right fielder does not strike me as being a wise option. We've battled back and forth about it for a few days now, but I'll summarize it. He won't have an OPS of .857 next year. He won't hit 21 homeruns. Having lost the surprising offensive bat of Jim Edmonds, and considering the likely return to average of Theriot and DeRo, I've been arguing for a while that the Cubs need to pick up some extra offensive oomph, preferrably in RF, and preferably a left-handed bat to make up for the imbalance of the Cubs lineup. I base this argument on the fact that the Cubs failed miserably in the playoffs - and while the playoffs are a big crapshoot, I would not be satisfied with the Cubs if they sat on their laurels and didn't find a way to improve before the start of the 2009 season. After all, in baseball those who sit on their laurels rarely get to stand up, if you get my meaning. The Cubs need a good hitting outfielder, and most importantly they need a good hitting #3 hitter who can allow for Derrek Lee to move down the lineup. Mark DeRosa is not that guy.
Mark DeRosa has a reputation Europe-wide of being a gentle, fulfilling lover. He reportedly has 10 love-children in every country in the EU, who he hopes will one day spark a new baseball league that will take that continent by storm.
Therefore, the Cubs need to sign a guy or trade for a guy. As for DeRosa, I feel that he either needs to stay at second base or be dealt, paving the way for a Fontenot who will put up comparable production but as an inexpensive lefty. But under no - zero - circumstances should DeRosa start in right field next year, and this has been the crux of the argument. It was spurned by a comparison of DeRo and Adam Dunn, but if I haven't made it clear by now I will try again: Adam Dunn is not my first choice as a Cub, but I'd still choose him over DeRosa all day long if the Cubs could find a place for him in the outfield.
Mark DeRosa with one hand tied behind his back could kick Adam Dunn's mammoth ass in about 3 seconds flat.
If DeRosa could duplicate his '08 numbers, it'd be acceptable. The problem is that the Cubs would still have not replaced the surprising numbers of Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson in center field - unless Fontenot went buck wild and Babe Ruth'd the ball all year long. Again, my concern here is finding a better #3 hitter, balancing the lineup, and helping the Cubs improve in order to increase - even if only minutely - their chances of winning a World Series.
Mark DeRosa doesn't win the World Series. If it's lucky, and with a lot of hard work and team play, the World Series may win Mark DeRosa.
Anyway, that's my philosophy on DeRo. Use him where he's strong - second base. Upgrade in the outfield. But to back up my measly opinion with cold, hard statistics...
Mark DeRosa doesn't need statistics. Statistics need ... well, you get it.
DeRo played 38 games in RF last year where he had an RF of 2.43 (although range factor is a questionable stat according to some). There were 44 players in baseball who played more games in RF than DeRosa, and 56 who played at least 30 there.
Of those 56 players, 53 had more assists than DeRo. (Remember how I said he's played 150 games there in his career? He's had 6 assists ... 25 of the 56 had at least that many, some in as few as 60-or-so games. But hey - only 7 had a better RF than DeRosa's 2.43, although his career RF is 2.26, and 26 of those 53 beat that last year. (BTW, in 82 career games in RF - 33 started - Dunn has a RF of 4.07, which tells you just how ridiculous a stat it is, and he has 5 assists, just one fewer than DeRosa despite playing 828 fewer innings over their careers. He also has 5 errors out there to DeRo's 1, so I guess you can theoretically tack 4 runs onto Dunn's tally, even though we don't know for sure if those errors turned into runs.)
For the record, I'm going to make this comparison 3 different ways. First, among all qualified right fielders in 2008, DeRosa would have been 9th in OPS, tied for 8th in HR, 13th in AVG, and 4th in OBP. That would be out of 22 "qualified" right fielders, making DeRosa slightly above the middle of the pack in terms of his production last year during Fact: a career year performance for DeRo.
Second, among right fielders including the guys who didn't quite make it to the necessary plate appearances, DeRosa would have been around 13th in terms of OPS, depending on where you draw the line for "qualification." He would have been tied for 9th in HR, he would have been rougly 19th in AVG, and 11th in OBP.
Third, among all guys who played in RF as often as he did, DeRosa would have been 15th in OPS, incidentally. Here's a list of guys who out OPS'd him:
Guys with a better OPS: Jayson Werth .861 (*note: 418 at bats), Elijah Dukes .864 (*note: 276 at bats), Xavier Nady .867, Maglio Ordonez .869, Brad Hawpe (*note: 488 at bats) .879, Jermaine Dye .855, Andre Ethier .885, Vlad Guerrero .886, Nick Markakis .897, Adam Dunn .889, Josh Hamilton .901, J.D. Drew .927 (*note: 368 at bats), Sin-Soo Shoo .946 (*note: 317 at bats), Ryan Ludwick .966
And none of that takes into account how many guys outslugged him as well - a stat that is only important because my main thesis is that the Cubs need a new #3 hitter if they want to improve their chances of winning the World Series in 2009.
So, my working theory here is that DeRosa will not match that production next season. All the odds are against him - his age, his 3-year-splits, his career averages, all of them. That doesn't mean that DeRosa is a piece of crap or anything, it just means that as Cub fans, we need to be fair and reasonable and accept him for his limitations. So, leave him at second base where he'd be just fine with a .280 AVG, 12 homers, and an OBP of .345 or so.
But put him in RF next year with those numbers, and I seriously doubt he'd be responsible for a net gain of +20, as Maddog is hypothetically suggesting.* If the Cubs were looking for that kind of production in right, then they might as well leave Fukudome out there.
(*I know you just threw that number out there as an example, Maddog, not as what you are actually expecting)
But what they need is increased production. That's just not in DeRo's bag for 2009. So, with all of that said, and explained to ridiculous detail, I'll summarize by outlining the following:
1. This conversation started out with somebody suggesting Dunn in RF, then with somebody else saying that DeRo might be a better option for a variety of reasons, and then it spiraled downward.
2. I would not advocate Adam Dunn in RF, but yes, I would take him there over DeRosa any day, unless the Cubs managed to make a serious upgrade at another position. If the Cubs were to seriously upgrade in CF, or SS, or even 2B - and by "serious" I mean a net gain of 10 to 20 homeruns and lots of points on the OPS - then DeRosa would be a fine choice to play RF next year. Otherwise, the offense will be worse and the Cubs will be worse and you don't make a team *worse* if you want to do better.
3. To Maddog - if DeRosa was even just likely to duplicate last year's numbers, I'd happily settle for him in RF next year even over Dunn. But it's not likely at all, in fact it's probably very unlikely. But I'll ask nicely - please don't accuse me of obscuring the argument, or ignoring statistics or opinions strongly based in fact when you haven't once acknowledged that DeRo's likely production will be drastically down next year. I find it very frustrating.
And that's where I'll leave it. Have a good Christmas Eve, everybody, and thanks for participating in the most heated December Argument of recent memory.... ya Cub marks!