Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wes Helms: Welcome to Philly... 

The Phillies brought Wes Helms aboard as their new everyday third baseman. I think the deal is basically a good one: for $5.5 million over two years the Phillies are going to get a good, solid every day third baseman. This is much less expensive than the deal that David Bell signed four seasons ago to get $17 million over four years to play third for the Phillies. By not going hog-wild and spending millions of dollars on another player, the Phillies have spared the cash they need to pursue Alfonso Soriano.

So what are the Phillies getting with Wes Helms? If 2006 is any guide, they are getting a diamond-in-the-rough: last season Wes Helms hit ten home runs and 47 RBIs in sparring duties, having just 278 plate appearances. Despite playing sparingly, Helms hit a .319 GPA and had a .246 ISO. Those are both fantastic numbers. Translated to a full season, Helms would have hit 25-30 home runs and had more like 80-95 RBIs. If Helms duplicates that performance in 2006, then the Phillies have gotten themselves a steal.

Gross Productive Average (GPA): (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.
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.

Unfortunately, Helms career is rather difficult to evaluate. In 2006 he was used as a pinch-hitter 52 times and 50 times in 2005. It is a difficult task to pinch hit, so how Helms stats would hold up for a full regular season is a matter of some debate. Also, consider that Helms had been a very inconsistent player prior to 2006. His career slugging percentage prior to 2006 was just .424. His 2006 slugging percentage was much higher: .575. In 2003 Helms ranked seventh in the N.L. in strikeouts with 131. Helms has since dropped that number (55 last season), but it seems high and for a player not exactly known prior to last season for being a powerful hitter, that is mildly disturbing.

What kind of a fielder will Helms be? I haven’t a clue. Back in 2005 he logged to few innings that The Fielding Bible didn’t bother to come up with a scoring report on him. He played 178 innings at third base that season and was +3 in Plus / Minus. Impressively, his relative Range Factor was 1.053 (1.001 and above being better than average), which all suggests to me that he will be a strong and capable defender for the Phillies. Perhaps not the equal of David Bell, but pretty good.

Bottom-line, I am cautiously optimistic about the Phillies decision to sign Helms. He could be a terrific every-day third baseman for the Phillies if he plays like he did in 2006. If not, then the Phillies can go back to the drawing board and look for someone else to man the hot corner and utilize Helms as a pinch-hitter, the way so many other teams have. Either way, this decision was a smart one. Good work, one hole plugged, now onto the Soriano chase...

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