In his article about defense yesterday, Chris Dial cautioned that DJ Stewart could give back all of his offensive value because he was a big negative on defense. My reply was that if he kept his 142 OPS+, he would still be a positive overall but if his offense dropped down to a 110 OPS+. that Chris’ statement would be true. Which brings us to Kyle Schwarber.

This year, Schwarber has 37 HR and 101 BB. He’s also struck out 170 times and has a .188 AVG. Put it all together and he has a 115 OPS+. But because his defense and baserunning is so bad, he has a (-0.1) bWAR and a 0.6 fWAR. It’s hard to imagine that a guy could be pushing 40 HR but still be essentially a replacement player. But he is.

Earlier in the season, the Phillies had to play Schwarber in the field because Bryce Harper needed to DH. Starting on July 21, Harper and Schwarber have been rotating in the DH spot. The Phillies need to make Harper’s health their top priority. Hopefully when the playoffs roll around, Harper will be healthy enough to play the field more than he is now.

So, how bad is Schwarber in the field? In 797.1 innings in LF, he has a (-17) DRS, a (-16) OAA and a (-15) RAA. A full season is usually considered to be 1,200 innings. That’s about two-thirds of a full season, meaning if he had a full season’s worth of defensive innings at his current pace, he’d be a (-25) DRS. The rule of thumb is that 10 runs is a win, so you can see how much he’s losing because of defense.

Meanwhile, Stewart has played mostly in right field but also has a few innings in left. Combining those two corner OF slots, Stewart has 169.1 innings in the field. And he has a combined (-4) DRS, (-3) OAA and a (-2) RAA. That’s about 14% of a full season’s worth of defensive innings for Stewart. If you extrapolate that out to 1,200 innings, Stewart would have a (-29) DRS, which is even worse than what Schwarber would do this year in a full season.

Defensive numbers take longer to stabilize so it’s quite possible that Stewart really isn’t this bad. But we also shouldn’t expect him to be a positive in the field, either. In 502.1 lifetime innings in LF, he has a (-4) DRS and in 791 innings in RF he has a (-11) DRS. It makes you wonder why the Mets have given him so many innings in RF this season.

Just because someone is willing to play a defensive position doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to actually let him do it. The Phillies’ hand was forced this year with the Harper injury. There’s no reason the Mets have to play Stewart in right field.

11 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (8/30/23)

  • TexasGusCC

    Wow! How can Stewart suck that much? I mean, we all know Schwarber was a catcher and then went to 1B, but what business does Stewart – a lifelong outfielder – have at those numbers?

    On another note, I see Denis Reyes is back off the DFA wire to start tonight’s game. So, setting the line for runs by the Rangers tonight at 8 1/2 (even though I wanted to open it at 10 1/2, LOL), what is your take?

  • T.J.

    While I am in the senior group of baseball fans, I fancy myself a proponent of the modern metrics. That said, there is just no way I can accept that Schwarber, on track for a 40 HR 100 runs scored season with a .333 OBP is below replacement level. I understand he is an awful fielder and runner. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Brian Joura

      So, he’s got great power and with all of the walks he draws, he’s slightly above average in getting on base. But in every other aspect of the game, he’s somewhere between bad and terrible. He shouldn’t be allowed to play the field.

      Player A – 118 OPS+, -12 DRS in 494 innings in the OF, (-0.1) bWAR, 0.6 fWAR
      Player B – 115 OPS+, -17 DRS in 797.1 OF innings, (-0.1) bWAR, 0.6 fWAR

      Player B is Schwarber this year. Player A is Lucas Duda in 2013. Duda had a .352 OBP that season. He also had 31 XBH in 318 ABs. I’m guessing you have no problem with Duda being a replacement-level player. Proportionally, it’s hits and doubles for Duda versus HR for Schwarber. But the end result is pretty similar.

  • T.J.

    Yeah, I’m not challenging the comps or the computer calculations. But, if my rough math is accurate, the Phillies have the 9th most runs scored. Schwarber has scored or knocked in 20% of those runs. That is a massive share of offense. The Phillies are good, in a playoff position. Schwarber has played a crappy left field in about 66% of their defensive innings. Left field. It just strikes me that the WAR defensive penalty, bringing him to replacement level, doesn’t make sense. Is WAR telling me the Phillies would be better with 2023 Mark Cahna in LF? Would anyone in baseball make that swap?

    • Brian Joura

      But runs and RBIs are team dependent and Schwarber leads the Phillies in PA. Would he have that many runs or RBIs if he played on the Mets?

      My opinion is that you are over-valuing what he does and under-valuing what he doesn’t. I’m a big fan of HR and he has a bunch. He’s also made 393 outs all by himself, not counting double plays he’s hit into. He’s on target to make over 500 outs – that’s a lot of dead weight that we can’t just sweep under the carpet.

      The most advanced offensive stat we have is wRC+

      Pete Alonso has a 129
      Kyle Schwarber has a 112
      Mark Canha has a 105

      The difference between Alonso and Schwarber is more than twice as large as the difference between Schwarber and Canha. And I’m not sure how you feel but there have been plenty of times this year where Pete’s inability to do much besides homer has left me disappointed and frustrated. And given what a disaster Schwarber is running the bases and in the field, well, I have no trouble thinking that there’s only the tiniest of difference between Schwarber and Canha.

      Canha holds a 0.8 to 0.6 edge in fWAR over Schwarber. They’re essentially even in year-to-date production. If you make a trade, you want to improve your club. I wouldn’t blame anyone for not making that proposed deal because it really doesn’t move the needle. I think a better case would be Steven Kwan, who has just 5 HR and a 100 wRC+. There may not be many who would make that trade among MLB GM’s, either. But I’d make that trade in a skinny minute because Kwan’s baserunning and defense are significantly better.

      • T.J.

        I need to dig into the calculations for defense and base running deeper. It just strikes me that the WAR metric penalizes some guys like Schwarber and even Alonso too severely.

      • Mike W

        It also depends on what a players role is in the lineup. If you need a speedy base runner at the top of the lineup, you pock Kwan. If you need a big bat to drive runs in you pick Schwarber.

  • Woodrow1

    If Schwarber was batting fifth and the DH for the Mets we wouldn’t have had the sell off and would be looking forward to the playoffs.

  • Mike W

    It also depends on what a players role is in the lineup. If you need a speedy base runner at the top of the lineup, you pock Kwan. If you need a big bat to drive runs in you pick Schwarber.

    • Brian Joura

      That’s the kind of thinking that makes the Astros trade Joe Morgan for Lee May. In ’71, May hit 26 more homers than Morgan. The following year, he still out-homered Morgan by 13 but Morgan held an 8.7 to 3.0 edge in fWAR.

      Or, the other way around, it’s what makes Cleveland trade Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn. Colavito posts an 8.0 fWAR in 1961 alone, while Kuenn has a combined 4.0 the rest of his career.

      Runs are agnostic.

  • Brian Joura

    Checking minor league box scores and saw that Brooklyn was the free game of the day. Tuned in and it was the top of the 9th. Got to see Jett Williams launch a HR. The game was at Greenville and they have a Green Monster imitation in left field. The ball cleared that and the camera man really didn’t get the shot. But as soon as he hit it, you knew it was gone.

    Coming into the day, Williams had a .290/.450/.520 line in 129 PA for Brooklyn and he had two hits, including the homer in this one. Hope they start him next year in Double-A.

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