Thursday, June 08, 2006
I’ve always had a love / hate attitude towards David Bell. On one hand, I felt that the Phillies made a major mistake signing him to a mega-deal prior to the 2003 season for a player with spotty numbers (his career high in home runs remains just 21 with the Mariners in 1999). Entering his season Bell’s career OBP was just .318. And he wasn’t much of a slugger either: .396 career slugging percentage.
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
OBP (On-Base Percentage): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
SLG (Slugging Percentage): Power at the plate. (Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage)
On the other hand one of the best-kept secrets in baseball was that David Bell was/is a terrific defensive third baseman. In 2005 he led third basemen with a +24 Plus / Minus rating. Scope out a few of the numbers:
Plus / Minus:
2003: +6 (9th)
2004: +22 (3rd)
2005: +24 (1st)
Bell’s Relative Range Factor* also indicated that he was pretty good:
* Range Factor: (Putouts + Assists) * 9 / IP. Essentially measures how much a player is involved in defensive plays. Bill James Relative Range Factor (RRF) is a complicated formula that makes it pitching neutral (Range Factor usually depended on if the pitchers behind you were flyballers or goundballers). A number greater than 1.000 indicates that a player is better than average.
Offensively, this season David Bell has stepped out and has gotten some hits. As I write this Bell has 23 Runs Created (4.84 per 27 Outs), which still makes him one of the worst hitters in the Phillies lineup, but is a marked improvement over 2005 (just 55 Runs Created for the whole season, and 3.44 per 27 Outs). Bell’s OBP and Slugging numbers are high this season too: .337 and .411 … Bells .254 GPA* is actually pretty respectable and an improvement over his 2005 performance: .230 … Bell has also tried to work the count a little and get on base via the walk more: his .090 BB / PA (walks per plate appearance) is pretty good and comparable to other Phillies like Ryan Howard (.096) and Chase Utley (.092). It is also decidedly better than the Phillies leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins: .074 …
* GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA. Invented by The Hardball Times Aaron Gleeman, GPA measures a players production by weighing his ability to get on base and hit with power. This is my preferred all-around stat.
Defensively David Bell has appeared to be afflicted by the sickness that is permeating the Phillies defense generally: he’s just not doing that well. Right now Bell ranks tenth of fourteen NL 3B’s in Zone Rating (my alternative defensive stat since I don’t get Plus / Minus numbers until the end of the season. ZR is a stat which measures a player’s defensive ability by measuring plays they should have made. Admittedly, this is a stat left open to subjective opinions). If you look at Range Factor Bell’s stock goes way up: he’s third, but that might be a function of the Phillies pitching staff being loaded with ground ball pitchers.
(Oh, and there is no way I can calculate Bell’s RRF: James formula is too long.)
So David Bell isn’t doing that bad. This will almost certainly be his final season with the Phillies and part of me will be sad to see him go: if there could ever be a designated fielder position, David Bell would be a perpetual All-Star. The other part of me will recognize that despite Bell’s defensive skills, and despite his improvement this season, Bell is still a mediocre player. Still, sorry to see the guy go.
The Phillies swept the D-backs pretty impressively, running their roadstand to 5-2. Now comes a big series with the Nats. Let's see if they can keep this up.
I don't know if you heard the rumor that Yankee scouts were in town a few weeks ago to scout out outfielders. According to sources, they were here mostly to look at Burrell. This being a part of this rumored three-way deal that would land us Dontrelle Willis.
The reason I don't like this deal is it takes a RH bat out of our line up. But then, I also go to looking....you know who is a free agent after this season? Chipper Jones.
Tell me he wouldn't look 10 times better at the hot corner than Bell, and would make the lineup that much more potent.
Like I said, just a thought.
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