Eric Campbell: The Mets’ replacement player

Eric CampbellWAR, standing for Wins Above Replacement (player), is part of the alphabet soup of Sabermetric terms that Mets’ manager Terry Collins has no interest in.

This is unfortunate since the stat has its value despite some nagging flaws. Its biggest shortcoming is that it depends on certain defensive stats to try and determine how much value a player adds to or detracts from his team while on the field. Since defensive stats have always had a hard time of quantifying that skill it has reached the point that there are several versions of WAR which mostly differ based on how they evaluate defense.

Some people are a bit unclear as to what a replacement level player is. This would be best described as a readily available player at the upper levels of the minors, double A or triple A. According to Fan Graphs a team made up solely of replacement level players would win 28.9% of their games meaning they would go 47-115 for a major league season.

Our beloved 1962 Mets went 40-120 which tells you that as a team they were well below replacement level.

The recent Affair de Tejada in which Ruben Tejada was placed on waivers and then released saving the team $2.5 million on his $3 million contract has pretty much solidified Eric Campbell’s spot on the opening day roster.

This is unfortunate because Campbell truly is the poster child for replacement players. A visit to the Baseball-Reference website shows that Campbell posted a +0.4 WAR in 2014 and a -0.5 WAR in 2015. Add those together and you get a minor leaguer cashing a major league check.

And it’s not like we have not been down this road before because Eric Campbell is really just Josh Satin 2.0. Most replacement level players hover around bouncing from AAA to the bigs as needed. Once in a while one of them will break out. Certainly Justin Turner was not much more than a replacement player during his Mets years and he surprisingly blossomed in Chavez Ravine.

In Campbell’s defense he did have a decent line drive rate and hit in bad luck last year. He’s clearly a below average defender pretty much anywhere that Collins puts him.

This writer advocated for the Mets to sign veteran Ryan Raburn while he was still a free agent. RR has put up an OPS over 1000 in two of the last three seasons. Admittedly he was just atrocious in 2014. The deal he ended up signing with Colorado will pay him a modest $1.5 million salary if he makes their opening day roster.

Had the Mets jettisoned Tejada sooner and used their savings to ink Raburn they would have been well ahead of the game, still saved some money, and could have played Eric Campbell where he rightly should be, Las Vegas.

It is not a tragedy that the Mets will be keeping this replacement level player on the major league roster but it certainly would be preferable to have all 25 guys be of major league quality instead of 24.

18 comments for “Eric Campbell: The Mets’ replacement player

  1. Eric
    March 23, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Considering he’s the 25th guy on the roster, it’s really not all that important.
    If Wright or Duda go down, Campbell will not be a long term option anyway. He’s merely a versitile option.

  2. March 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I agree with your conclusion that if Tejada was jettisoned earlier eh Mets could have found more major league value in cheap discarded free agents.

    I believe that the Mets direction focuses on two points. First, they are committed to developing cheap major league ready talent and that they view Reynolds or Campbell as a better alternative for early in the year for the 25th man. Second, they have demonstrated that if they do not have the right player in place that they will trade for him.

    Lastly, this is not rotisserie baseball. Many teams have failed trying to buy the super team (i.e. insert gratuitous Yankee comment) . The 25th spot on the roster seems to me to be the place that a club can experiment with up until August 31. I am less concerned about this spot now then I will be on August 31.

    Until then I will root for the underdog and hope that a 25th man/ folk hero emerges from our system that we can cheer for …….. most of the season.

    • Matty Mets
      March 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      +1. Agree with every word. I can’t stand this kid as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows. Campbell is to me what Eric O’Flaherty is to Brian Joura. I don’t care that he can play every position. He makes errors and he can’t hit and he does not belong in the majors. I’d rather give Reynolds a shot. I don’t want to see Campbell get a single at bat, regardless of his BABiP, versatility, haircut and whatever other positives you have to dig deep for.

      Editor’s Note – Please do not use capital words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

      • Name
        March 23, 2016 at 6:03 pm

        “He makes errors and he can’t hit and he does not belong in the majors.”

        You just summed up Reynolds in a nutshell

  3. studes
    March 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Campbell’s wRC+ in the minor leagues the last four years are 134, 148, 157, and 195. Not only way above average, but improving every year. ZIPS, which is the only system to give him significant playing time in 2016, has him at 0.9 WAR. I think the evidence is good that Campbell is better than a replacement player who hasn’t taken advantage of the two opportunities he’s had. I don’t mind the Mets giving him one more chance. I think it shows that they’re smarter than the average fan.

    • March 23, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Campbell was better than a replacement player in 2014 with the Mets. I don’t think a .230 BABIP, what he did in 2015, should be expected going forward.

      How confident are you in the park and/or league adjustments in wRC+ for minor leaguers?

      Last year, there were 5 players in Las Vegas who had at least 100 PA with a wRC+ of 140 or more, which FG describes as “great” while not one player had that for Savannah. The Vegas ones particularly seem out of whack to me.

      • Name
        March 23, 2016 at 11:45 pm

        “The Vegas ones particularly seem out of whack to me.”

        Clearly they need more work on their minor league adjustments.

        The average OPS for Vegas in 2015 was .788… with pitchers.

        Meanwhile, EYJ and TJ Rivera both had 101 wRC, and their OPS was in the 718-731 range…

        I just wanted to check to make sure the MLB wRC were more reasonable, and they were.
        Mets team OPS (with pitchers) :712
        Kelly Johnson had a wRC of 100 and his season OP was 718

  4. EddieMetz
    March 23, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Soup Campbell is not bad for what the Mets need him to do.
    He won a game vs Nats last year and was robbed of winning another by a spectacular catch by Mike Taylor at the wall. I would rather have Soup vs Tejada.
    Mets have tons of folks to replace Tejada, specifically, a much cheaper Matt Reynolds and some up and coming SS’s just a year or two away. This is the 25th man on the roster we are talking about….! Man, have things changed in a year.

  5. Metsense
    March 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Why Campbell? He plays four positions compared to Reynolds two. He is the most versatile when comparing similarly talented players. He has some experience. He is cheap. He is optionable. He is a replacement player who is very replaceable. He is the 25th man who hopefully will not get many innings of play.

    • Larry Smith
      March 23, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Tejada is a capable major league fielder at SS, 2B, and 3B. He plays more important positions than Campbell who is a four-corner guy. Tejada is certainly not a special ballplayer but he is more of a legit major leaguer than Soupy Campbell is or figures ever to be.

      • Metsense
        March 23, 2016 at 11:37 pm

        Tejada is not a similarly talented player, he is better.Hopefully when the season begins to shake out then the Mets will utilize the $2.5m savings on a pressing need that may not have been identified yet. I can’t fault the Mets for saving that salary for the future.

        • Bob4Health
          March 27, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          Tajeda is a major league fielding short stop who has been inconsistent
          at the plate. But last year he had a fine second half, and hitting
          left handers at over .280. They should have kept him
          and not invested in yet another worse fielding short stop with a bit
          more power. We need defense from SS, no a few HRs.

  6. Eraff
    March 23, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    I like Eric Campbell…the Josh Satin comps are uninformed. Campbell can adequately glove several Positions. Satin was a Locked AAAA Player…Campbell has a chance a a mini career as a legit major leaguer—run/hit/glove, he’s a useable 25th

    • Larry Smith
      March 23, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      You may like Campbell but the stats say that Satin was as good or better. Satin had 292 PA in his four year career and put up a total of 0.7 WAR. His best year included a .279 BA and a 781 OPS. He played 1b and 3b. Campbell has had 417 PA but his career WAR is -0.1. His highest OPS for a season was 680. He plays the same two infield positions and while you can put him in the corner outfield too he has shown no particular skill out there.
      If Campbell is even slightly the better player he has not shown it. When and if he puts up a season with an OPS over 750 even I might be inclined to change my tune. He is a replacement level player – nothing more.

      • March 24, 2016 at 8:07 am

        But you cannot make such a statement over which one was better over such a small sample for both at this point. While Satin looks superficially better, that’s only because Campbell had more PA outside of his “big” year than Satin did. There’s no reason to believe that if Satin had an equal number of PA post 2013 as Campbell did post 2014 that he would still look better. The 2014 Mets had the ability to move on from Satin earlier than the 2015 Mets had the ability to move on from Campbell.

        Satin had 76% of his PA in 2013 when he had a .379 BABIP
        Campbell had 51% of his PA in 2014 when he had a .348 BABIP

        The Mets were able to move on from Satin in 2014 because they had Campbell to promote. Perhaps if L.J. Mazzilli hadn’t been suspended and had his career derailed, the Mets could have done to Campbell last year what they did with Satin the year before. But it didn’t work out that way.

  7. Jim OMalley
    March 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I am just delighted that we are talking about Campbell as the 25th man on the roster and not why he is batting 5th for us.

    • Chris F
      March 24, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Jim, let’s wait and see on that. When he has 300 ABs filling in as the best 3B option we have…and batting 7th we may need to reevaluate things!

  8. blaiseda
    March 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    we’re quibbling over whether the 25th man on the roster is replacement or not.. remember when we had 5 or 6 on the roster and the ones that weren’t replacement level played like they were for us.

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