Seth Smith Part II: We're Going to Kill This Topic

Yesterday, danmerqury had an excellent piece about Seth Smith's platoon splits, which is well worth your time because a) Dan's a good writer, and b) I'm going to reference it a whole bunch. I agree with just about everything he said, including the manner in which he regressed Smith's numbers to the mean. I also should note that for the past three years I've been a Seth Smith fanboy and at the head of the "Free Seth Smith" club. That's said, I'm not super-excited about this trade.

From Dan's article yesterday, Smith has a .377 wOBA vs. RHP, .262 wOBA vs. LHP. One is very good and the other is not. Of course, Smith is likely neither that good against RHP nor that bad against LHP, as Dan showed. I wanted to dig a little deeper, to see how he compiled those numbers, at the risk of angering the Small Sample Size Gods. All of the numbers you see from here on out come from FanGraphs.

Here are two sets of Smith splits from his five seasons in Colorado:

Split PA BA OBP SLG ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+
Vs. L 239 0.202 0.269 0.319 0.117 0.238 0.262 47
Vs. R 1,209 0.290 0.364 0.518 0.228 0.318 0.377 125
Home 693 0.296 0.366 0.559 0.263 0.306 0.395 136
Away 755 0.257 0.332 0.418 0.161 0.303 0.327 91

The top two rows show what Dan explained yesterday, and the bottom two rows detail his home/away splits. it's basically what you'd expect if all you heard were the typical Smith scouting reports; Those two sets of 1,448 plate appearances overlap though; what I wanted to find were how many plate appearances Smith had against lefties at Coors and how many PA away from Denver. It wouldn't tell us much, given that we'd be down close to or under 100 plate appearances for the two numbers, but it sure would be interesting to look at. The numbers against right-handed pitchers (removing the 239 plate appearances from the bottom two rows) would also be insightful, just in case he happened to face more lefties on the road or something weird like that. If anyone can find that, please post it in the comments and let me know where I can find it so I can do more of the work and you can do more of the reading.

Beane has already said that Smith won't platoon, which I'm ok with in this situation. If a team like the Reds or Indians had made this trade, where squeezing out every extra win would likely matter to them, then I'd be outrageously against that decision. That would be dumb. I might be tempted to introduce crying to baseball. By platooning Smith with a right-handed hitter of roughly the same caliber, you'd get about 40 games of a .360 wOBA hitter instead of 40 games of a .280 wOBA hitter. That said, the A's aren't trying to squeeze out every win this year. They should find out, when given a regular chance, if Smith can hit lefties. He's never been given more than 103 plate appearances in a season against lefties, which happened last year.

His .327 wOBA away from home worries me a little bit too. it's only 755 plate appearances away from home. But regressing a "close-to-league-average-number" to the mean just means we get a little closer to league average. Of course, we can't ignore the .395 wOBA at home. But we also need to remember that it's not park adjusted. Most players hit better at home than they do on the road, especially in non-extreme confines. But a .395 wOBA would have placed Smith 11th in baseball last year, while the .327 mark matches such bombers as Bobby Abreu, Mark Trumbo, and James Loney.

I haven't even mentioned yet that Smith is a 29-year old outfielder entering his first arbitration season. He was an adequate defensive outfielder in Colorado, which also has a gigantic outfield, so I'm guessing he'll be fine here (seriously, I went to a game this summer at Coors, and I don't think you understand how big it is until you see it). He'll be paid about $2.5 million this coming season, which means he could see $4-5 million the next two years. But he'll get pricey come 2015. Simply put, he doesn't seem like a piece that will be here for TEH COMING*.

* That's a term I just made up for the 2015 wave of prospects that are all supposed to arrive at the same time and save the franchise. Let's see if it catches on. If it does, great; if not, I'll just use it more.

I'm guessing what Beane wants out of the deal is an opportunity to flip Smith at a trade deadline. Smith only cost the A's Guillermo Moscoso (whose peripherals suggested some MAJOR regression in his near future) and Josh Outman (who, while a nice pitcher, is likely not something that can't be replaced). Since Smith is under control for three years and not likely to be prohibitively expensive, he'll get three chances. All it takes is one season where Smith hits left-handed pitching just a little bit, his overall offensive numbers see a little boost, and some sucker in late July needs a bat. Smith's best season was 2009, but he was basically the same hitter the last three years against righties. Only difference is that in his tiny sample size in 2009 against lefties, Smith was more than adequate (he hit .259/.368/.500 in 69 plate appearances); Billy just needs lightning to strike one more time.

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