Nick Punto is No Cody Ransom, I'll Tell You That Much

It is time. Time for me to once again talk about Cody Ransom. Cody Ransom, that poor wandering soul unjustly robbed of his chance to shine, again and again, by the heartless general managers of Major League Baseball. Cody Ransom, who OPS'd .753 last year and is playing in Japan this year while Pedro Florimon still has a job in the Majors. Cody Ransom, who probably should have been a starting middle infielder for his entire career and basically never was. Cody Ransom, Cody Ransom, Cody Ransom.

Folks, I've got Cody Ransom on my mind today because Nick Punto plays for the A's. Nick Punto is the owner of a career .247/.324/.323 slash line, good for a world-beating .647 OPS, a .293 wOBA, and a cool 77 WRC+. Not exactly the stuff that legends are made of. His best year at the plate--by far--was 2011, when he was aided by an inflated BABIP and a limited amount of playing time. Other than 2011, he has almost never outperformed his career line to any significant degree. That career line is the real Nick Punto. And it belongs to a fellow making $3M.

Cody Ransom, on the other hand. He's a career .213/.303/.400 hitter. Yeah, you read that right. He's the dude people say doesn't exist, the guy with the respectable OPS who barely hits the Mendoza line. The guy who has walked more times than he has singled. The guy who has hit almost exactly as many extra-base hits as non-extra-base hits. His career wOBA is .310, his career WRC+ is 89. I would like to now remind you that his OPS, wOBA, and WRC+ are all significantly higher than Punto's.

Let's take a quick look at platoon splits, since Billy Frijoles asked and I should have done it to begin with.

Ransom vs. LHP: .235/.309/.467, .776 OPS, .232 ISO, .337 wOBA, 108 WRC+
Punto vs. LHP: .258/.324/.324, .648 OPS, .066 ISO, .292 wOBA, 77 WRC+

Ransom is all-around a better hitter against lefties. Punto hits for better average, which results in him getting on base more, but Ransom just plum hits for so much more power that he’s a pretty clear upgrade at the plate against lefties.

Ransom vs. LHP (2012-2014): .241/.321/.535, .856 OPS, .294 ISO, .367 wOBA, 130 WRC+
Punto vs. LHP (2012-2014): .269/.331/.313, .644 OPS, .044 ISO, .293 wOBA, 86 WRC+

Narrowing the focus to just the last three seasons, which I think makes some sense with a pair of guys who are both getting up there in years now (Punto turned 36 in November, Ransom turned 38 in February), the trend is more pronounced. Ransom hit for better average in 2012 and 2013, and that made all the difference, giving him an even heftier advantage in OPS, wOBA, and WRC+. He’s also just 10 points lower in OBP.

Ransom vs. RHP: .200/.302/.358, .660 OPS, .158 ISO, .295 wOBA, 79 WRC+
Punto vs. RHP: .241/.325/.322, .647 OPS, .081 ISO, .293 wOBA, 77 WRC+

Punto is a remarkably consistent hitter, splits-wise, for his career. There’s virtually no difference between his numbers on either side of the plate. And there’s also virtually no difference between his career line against RHP and Ransom’s career line against RHP, at least in the ways that count. Again, no surprise, he hits for much better average, giving him a higher OBP, but his slugging is so poor that Ransom overtakes him in OPS, while their wOBA and WRC+ figures are essentially the same.

Ransom vs. RHP (2012-2014): .180/.286/.316, .602 OPS, .136 ISO, .274 wOBA, 67 WRC+
Punto vs. RHP (2012-2014): .224/.316/.297, .613 OPS, .073 ISO, .281 wOBA, 76 WRC+

Interestingly, Punto’s ability to hit RHP may have aged better than Ransom’s, although when you’re comparing figures this bad, the question is sort of academic.

So in terms of splits, Ransom is noticeably better than Punto against LHP and basically just as bad as or maybe a little even-worse-than Punto against RHP.

Let's also compare the two guys' defense, another thing I should have done in the original version of this but didn't. Now there isn't a lot of data on Ransom, for obvious reasons, but here's what we do know. At the position he's played the most, third base, his career UZR/150 is -11.6. At the position he's played the second most, shortstop, it's 3.6. At both middle infield positions combined, his career UZR/150 is roughly 3.5; his RngR/150 is nearly 10, but his ErrR and DPR bring it all the way back down, meaning he's got above-average range at the middle-infield spots but he boots too many balls and is unhelpful in double play situations.

Defense is definitely Punto's strong suit. His UZR/150 at second base is 5.6, at third base it's 20.4, and at shortstop it's 17.5. At middle-infield in general it's roughly 11.5. Given the amount of playing time either guy is likely to receive, I would say Punto's worth, at most, half a win more than Ransom on defense, while Ransom is worth, at most, half a win more on offense. But this is a situation where I think I'd just prefer the guy who can hit.

Now I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots, or only five? To tell you the truth, in all the commotion, I kinda lost count myself. I also know that you're thinking, "Wait a minute, this dude's never cracked 300 plate appearances in a season! He has 858 PAs for his career. He is currently playing in Japan." Now these things are all true. But it's also true that Pete Seeger and Arthur Miller were blacklisted for Communist sympathies, and that was an injustice. So is baseball's abject failure to give Cody Ransom a real shot.

Again, let me be clear: Pedro Florimon gets to play Major League Baseball. You know who Pedro Florimon is? A terrible hitter, that's who he is. He is the Antichrist of hitting. Meanwhile, Cody Ransom has to play in Japan. That's not okay, and the Oakland A's should rectify that situation. Yes, I know the guy is thirty-eight. But I don't care. Because we are currently carrying Nick Punto, who is thirty-not-hitting-that-well.

You have concerns? I have answers. Perhaps you're worried that Cody Ransom has been the beneficiary of luck, that his figures would regress. Well if that's true, why did his numbers go UP in 2014, even though his BABIP dropped by over 100 points. Can't explain that. You're wondering where we'll put him in the infield? How about ANYWHERE, y'all. He's no worse than Callaspo and arguably might be better. What will we have to give up for him? Nothing, he's not in MLB right now. What will we have to pay him? MLB minimum, which is a couple million less than what Punto's making. And best of all: no more Nick Punto.

Your move, Billy Beane.

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