Bring Out Yer Dead: Jim Edmonds

Earlier this month, it was announced that Big Mac might be added to the 25-man roster if the Cards are still in contention on August 31. Now LaRussa is in talks with bringing back another retired ex-Card, Jim Edmonds.

Edmonds of course did not voluntarily retire last year. Like other still productive players such as Frank Thomas and Kenny Lofton (and almost Pedro), Edmonds was left in the dust when the market for overpaid, aging players collapsed last offseason. Whereas Edmonds once, as recently as only a year or two prior, would have been almost guaranteed at least a one-year, $5 million deal, teams around the league (yes, even the Yankees) pushed to get younger, smarter and more efficient with their money.

In only half a season (85 games) with the Cubs in 2008, Edmonds posted a ridiculous .256/.369/.569 triple-slash line (.394 wOBA) with 19 HR and 49 RBI. Edmonds did all of this with a .260 BABIP (.315 xBABIP using THT's xBABIP calculator). Bad luck, in theory, robbed Jim Edmonds of 10 hits. If we credit Edmonds with those additional hits and pessimistically assume that all of those additional hits would have been singles, Edmonds would have hit .296/.403/.608 (1.011 OPS) in his 298 PA stint on the Cubs. Amongst all major league players in 2008 who came to the plate 290+ times, only Albert Pujols (1.114 OPS), Chipper Jones (1.044 OPS), and Manny Ramirez (1.031 OPS) posted higher OPS's.

During his brief tenure with the Cubs, Jim Edmonds was worth +14.4 Batting Runs Above Average (BRAR) and -6.7 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAR). When you adjust his numbers for playing time and position, Edmonds came out to a 1.9 WAR player over essentially one half of a season for the Chicago Cubs. That extrapolates Edmonds as being a 3.5-4 WAR player over the course of a full season for the Cubs. All of this is before you adjust his batting line to account for bad luck.

Edmonds is now 40 years old, however, and it would be somewhat naive to think he could repeat his 2008 season, especially being a year removed from major league play. Being incredibly pessimistic, let's just say that Edmonds would have been a 3.5 WAR player over the course of a full season of play in 2008. If we account the traditional -0.5 WAR adjustment for age by season, that still puts Edmonds as a +2.5 WAR player if he is still in shape. Subtract another -0.5 WAR for "being rusty" and you still, in theory, have a quality +2.0 WAR player.

Now, a lot of this is of course "in theory." 298 PA is a poor sample size by which to judge OBP, SLG, OPS, and ISO. Edmonds is also going to turn 40 this year and dealt with several injuries in 2006 and 2007 which limited him to partial seasons (~400 PA) each year. There are clearly a lot of "what ifs" and "in theories" to be said here, but if Edmonds is healthy, and if the Cardinals (or any team, for that matter) are willing to take the risk, and if Edmonds is willing to take a huge paycut, then its very possible that Edmonds could be the ultimate low-risk, high-reward OF this season for a team with a budget crunch and holes to fill.


The 'Bright' One said...

also take off -.5 WAR for losing "rhythm"

all i know is that edmonds would have been a much better option than gathright or freel

Sexy Rexy said...

Edmonds is a better 25th man than Jermaine Dye- who is rumored to be in contract negotiations with the Cubs haha!

I still don't like this huge assumption you keep making about making a players xBABIP match up with his BABIP. Luck is just a natural part of the and is unquantifiable. The vast majority of pitchers' FIPs don't match up with their ERA's (or xFIP for that matter)

Anyway though good post. And further proof of the White Sox being dumb not even considering Thome or even Edmonds- both of which im sure would be better than Mark freaking Kotsay

Carl Skanberg says it best "see The Quest for a DH"-

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Thanks for the kudoks; its a shame teams arent "getting smarter" enough. One day, someone whose never even played baseball and is good at stats will come day...till then, sigh, Chicago is stuck with 2 awful GMs (but hey, at least Kenny Williams tries)

Also, the luck variation of BABIP is much more quantifiable than I first thought. Look at the correlation associated with xBABIP in terms of predicting future performance:

50% correlation is pretty high. Obvious nothing is 100%, but it's the best we've got and it's pretty solid. The reason I assume all singles, which has been to many other's chagrin, is two fold. One, you can't predict the strength of contact (the theory behind xFIP) or defensive positioning (the theory behind FIP/DIPS) and thus you can't know if a hit would have been a bloop single, smoked double, would have been single-turned-double etc. The second reason I assume all singles is that you cannot forecast future output rates. ISO can be forecast somewhat with a large enough sample size, but that does not explain 2B,3B,HR distribution. Furthermore, you can't assume single season or career doubles rates (hit denominator) will persist season-to-season.

More on xBABIP:

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Oh, and we really should never use LDBABIP again, lol. LD%+.120 has less of a correlation with future success than actual BABIP haha

The 'Bright' One said...

Actually, i retract my earlier statements about xFIP. It used HR/FB not HR/9, which should be pitcher independent. I'm also a fan the BABIP calculator, though i think you can take into account double, triple, HR rates if the plate appearance sample is large enough for the season.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

wait. is THAT why you got into that long debate when i told you that you made no sense at 2 am? Hahaha.

Yeah, HR/FB rates form a player's xHR/9 which is used in xFIP.