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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Faces, Part II: Chris Snelling 

With Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth destined to split time along with Shane Victorino and Pat Burrell in the outfield, the competition for the coveted fifth outfielder slot is between Taguchi and Chris Snelling, the former Tampa Bay Davil Ray. Let’s talk a little about Snelling today since we talked about Taguchi the other day.

It is frustrating evaluating Snelling because we have precious little to go on. Thus far in his MLB career, Snelling has just 221 major league At-Bats. He’s hit just six home runs and nine doubles, so he’s no power hitter. He does seem to have a good eye, however: his 34 walks are pretty good, and his career OBP of .357 is a good 117 points higher than his batting average. According to the 2008 Bill James Handbook, Snelling will hit .253 (.350 OBP), with 7 home runs and 43 RBI. He’ll also have a 4.53 Runs Created per 27 Outs. That’s all pretty respectable.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
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.
Runs Created (RC): A stat originally created by Bill James to measure a player’s total contribution to his team’s lineup. Here is the formula: [(H + BB + HBP - CS - GIDP) times ((S * 1.125) + (D * 1.69) + (T * 3.02) + (HR * 3.73) + (.29 * (BB + HBP – IBB)) + (.492 * (SB + SF + SH)) – (.04 * K))] divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH+ SF).
RC/27: Runs Created per 27 outs, essentially what a team of 9 of this player would score in a hypothetical game.
Fielding Percentage: (Putouts + Assists) / (Putouts + Assists + Errors). How often the player successfully handled the ball.
Range Factor: (Putouts + Assists) * 9 / IP. Essentially measures how much a player is involved in defensive plays.

Defensively we know, again, pretty little about Snelling’s skills. He played 129 innings of left field with the Washington Nationals and seemed to do well: his fielding percentage was 1.000, and his range factor was 2.02, which would have ranked him in the middle of the pack amongst left fielders in the MLB. Snelling also played 38 & 2/3 innings of centerfield for the Oakland A’s and likewise had a 1.000 fielding percentage and 2.09 range factor, which wasn’t so good (although the sample size is much too small).

So what are Snelling’s chances of making the Phillies roster? Not good. He’s basically competing for one slot only, that fifth outfielder slot where the Phillies are looking for someone with defensive skills and with speed. On both counts, I think So Taguchi has the edge over Snelling. He played more innings in the field and has pretty good stats (2.82 range factor in centerfield for the Cardinals in 2007), and he’s demonstrated speed on the base-paths. Taguchi has 36 steals in 48 attempts in his career, against Snelling’s two in six attempts.

In the final analysis, I think that Chris Snelling will play MLB baseball in 2008, but it won’t be in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.

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Snelling has little chance of making the team right now. However he is likely to see time at some point with the Phils as we all know that someone will likely get banged up a little and may need a 2 week break. Having Snelling make me feel comfortable with the depth in the OF. Bohn, Watson, and Moran also provide insurance and depth to make a minor trade if needed. So if the Phils need another arm or that 3rd baseman they may try to pry away from another team then thier depth in OF and even C could be used to aquire someone.

Taguchi does have the upper hand for the final OF slot and even more so with his great pinch hitting abilities.

The team is 5 deep on major league OF's and has Snelling, Bohn, Watrson, and Maron who all could step up and be ready for the show.
from what I know Snelling cannot be optioned to the minors. As he was picked up as a rule 5 draft by Tampa from the A's, doesn't he have to be kept on the 25 man (or just the 40 man?)

Anyway, the kid can play.
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