The Moneyball Approach

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Think about your dream lineup.

Now what would it look like?

There would be the leadoff guy — a man constantly on base — capable of swiping bags at any given moment. There would be the No. 3 hitter with the perfect blend of average and power. And you’d definitely have a few power bats capable of sending the occasional bomb over the outfield fence.

Well, unfortunately, life in the Atlantic League is far from a dream. There’s an excellent chance the York Revolution’s 2008 lineup won’t come anywhere close to resembling the Murderer’s Row the New York Yankees penciled into the lineup in the 1920s.

But what are reasonable expectations from York’s lineup this year? Allow me to go the Moneyball route in my analysis.

Ideally, the Revs should be built around players with a high on-base percentage. The club finished last in the league in home runs last season (103) and because York has already committed to many of the players from last year’s roster, it’s safe to assume this year’s team won’t be built on power. So what does that mean? Barring the addition of an out-of-this-world slugger in the next month — a possibility — York needs players to get on base for other hitters to drive them in.

But here’s the problem: a good portion of the Revolution’s current position players do not sport overwhelming career on-base percentages. Out of Keoni De Renne (.341), Kaz Tanaka (.349), Travis Ezi (.323), Matt Esquivel (.342), Kenny Perez (.325), Matt Dryer (.329), Sandy Aracena (.329) and Jason Aspito (.319), only De Renne, Esquivel and Tanaka have an acceptable on-base number. And they’re all close to average.

You can argue that Esquivel’s on-base number will increase once he gets into independent ball, but we’re likely going to see similar results from many of the guys on this list. That’s where Nate Espy’s departure will hurt York most. Sure, everyone knows about his power, but his plate discipline and on-base percentage were his best qualities. Espy got on base at a .419 clip last year — and he had a .393 mark for his career. The Revs need to find a player who can duplicate that production.

I still get the feeling that Adam Gladstone will find at least one great offensive player once major league teams start making their final cuts, but there’s no denying that the Revs’ lineup has some issues.

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2 Responses

  1. Both De Renne and Aspito were in the .370 range for the Revs last season, so I think you can reasonably expect them to surpass their career averages. In the bigger picture, though, I think York needs TWO big bats. One to replace Espy. One to bolster a lineup that produced the second-fewest runs in the league last season.

    Just my two cents.

  2. I agree with the point on York needing at least two big bats. They really don’t have a No. 3 hitter right now and I’m not in love with any of the guys they have signed right now for the cleanup roll. Dryer — injury prone. Aspito — a little streaky. Esquivel — well, who knows how long he might even be here?

    This could fall under nitpicking, but I don’t see Aspito putting up the numbers he did last year (on-base wise). Definitely not over a full season. I think the league will figure out how to pitch him. He had almost three times as many strikeouts (32) as walks (11) and he was cut from a Northern League team before the Revs picked him up. I think he played over his head last year, but he’s pretty competitive. So maybe he’ll prove me wrong.

    With De Renne, I love his energy, but I’m also curious to see how he does over a 140-game season. He had a lot of nagging injuries last year, and he was so hot when he first signed with York that his overall numbers came out a little skewed. He hit .248 in 28 August games.

    Thanks for checking in Jason.

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