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A lot of people have mentioned Justin Upton as a Rangers trade target. Here's an issue that I haven't seen discussed much (or if it has been, I must've missed it). Upton has huge home/away splits, similar to Ian Kinsler. The avg. road wOBA and wRC+ for right fielders are .320 and 100 respectively. Upton's career road wOBA and wRC+ are .320 and 90, average to below avg. Upton's career home wOBA and wRC+ are .399 and 143, near elite level. So this is a huge split, not a normal one, and it's worth exploring the reasons for it.
Below is a link to a site that shows how the different parks affect hitters by handedness. Upton is a righty. Chase Field hugely inflates the #s for righties. Over a 3-year period, Chase Field was # 5 in terms of OPS among righties and HRs per plate appearance among righties.
So I think you have to ask yourself whether Upton really is as good as his #s indicate or whether he's received a huge boost from his home park. Now Rangers Ballpark is even better for righties than Chase Field (which probably helps explain why Ian Kinsler has such huge home/away splits). So I think Upton would perform very well at RBiA.
But couldn't you say the same thing about a lot of right handed hitters? In other words, wouldn't the Rangers be better off identifying a right handed hitter whose playing in a park that suppresses stats for righties and who has a reverse home/away split, suggesting that he would receive a big benefit from a righty-friendly park like RBiA? Such a hitter could be undervalued by non-saber GMs or by GMs with parks that aren't suited for righty hitters. That's the opposite of Upton who may in fact be overvalued due to favorable park factors.
I'll also note that Upton's subpar 2012 can be explained by looking at his home/away splits. In 2012, he performed very well at home, but he was extremely bad (worse than usual) on the road. This is eerily similar to what happened to Ian Kinsler in 2012. So for me it raises some giant red flags about Upton.
Just to give an idea of what I'm talking about here, think about Adrian Beltre. He wasn't very good in Seattle b/c their park drastically suppresses performance by right handed batters. He's been an absolute monster in RBiA. wRC+ of 160 in 2012 and 183 in 2011. He's produced almost $60 mil in value in terms of WAR in 2 seasons in RBiA. Viewed through that lense, his contract was an absolute steal. Even if he is a below avg. player from this point forward, the Rangers could still get their money's worth out of him.
Now the task is to identify the next Adrian Beltre, not the next Ian Kinsler.
your approach to splits is very black and white
Another player with big splits is Cargo. I'd rather him than JUpton.
My favorite splits are the ones performed by hot young female gymnasts. Second place goes to banana splits.
I see 2 problems with Gonzalez as a trade target.
1) He's owed $70 mil under his contract, so it's a much bigger commitment than Upton.
2) From 2009-11, the OPS for lefty hitters in Colorado was 80 points higher than in RBIA. So Colorado may be substantially more lefty friendly than RBIA (if that's possible), and Gonzalez's #s might take a hit as a result.
On the other hand, RBIA is even more righty friendly than Chase Field, so Upton might be a good fit for RBIA.
Nice post. To me this seems very close to a deal breaker for the idea of trading for justin Upton. I know his brother has a reputation as a bit of a head case but The trop where BJ plays is a poor hitters park. Would BJ fit with your idea of someone who might really benefit from RBIA and be relatively under value? Not saying i love the idea of BJ but we could get him without giving up a player and then use Elvis to trade for another peice. Have you found any other players that we haven't discussed that might be under valued because of their home ball parks that we might be able to trade for?
Haven't checked the numbers but what about Josh Willingham or any power hitter in the A's outfield...
tropicana field isn't a poor hitter's park. it has moderate dimensions and temperatures.
Different observation, but Upton seems to alternate between one real good year, one David Murphy type of year. That's fine when you're in your controllable salary years but not so much when you're paying big bucks on a FA contract.
For his career, BJ Upton's offensive stats are identical at home and on the road--.333 wOBA and 107 wRC+.
The Trop is very definitely a pitcher's park. In terms of runs and HRs, the Trop has ranked at or near the bottom of ESPN's park factors list for the past 3 seasons.
However, the Trop seems to be harder on lefty hitters than righty hitters. For righties, in terms of HRs per plate appearance, the Trop ranks 10th from 2009-11. In terms of OPS, it ranks 17th.
So for righties, the Trop is definitely more of a pitcher's park than RBIA (where the righty OPS is about 70 points higher). So BJ Upton would likely receive a significant boost from RBIA. But not as much as you'd expect if you looked at the Trop's park factors statistics generally without focusing on handedness of the batter.
Have you found any other players whose stats are suppressed by his home park and hits much better away from home and is flying "under the radar". I agree with your theory that a player like that could potentially break out at RBIA but I wonder if there are any real players who fit that profile.
when you look at tropicana's park factors, you're basically comparing the stadium to camden yards, fenway, and yankee stadum. it's not a pitcher's park like safeco or petco. it's hitter-friendly more than anything.
RF30, I haven't had a chance to look yet.
wingsofjoy, the Trop ranks at or near the bottom of the all the lists of park factors that I've seen. It's definitely not a hitter's park.
I don't know anything about the guy. But what about Ike Davis? For his career, his home wOBA/wRC+ is .324/104. But his away wOBA/wRC+ is .364/130. Citi Field appears to dramatically suppress HRs by lefties, which probably explains why Davis has about 40% more HRs on the road than at home. And as we know, RBIA is a lefty hitter's paradise. I'd bet this guy could crush in our ballpark.
Now, again. I know nothing else about him. According to UZR, he's a decent defensive 1B. But I have no idea whether he'd be available or there are other problems. But I think this is the type of guy JD needs to find. He's cheap and he's only putting up 2 WAR/year for the Mets. So for them, he's an average 1B. For us, I'd bet he could put up maybe 4 WAR per year (just a rough guess).
I'd guess that a guy like Davis could put up offensive #s in our ballpark that are similar to what Justin Upton could put up. Am I wrong?
Chase Headley is another guy with a large reverse home-away split. Unfortunately, he's no longer undervalued b/c he had a breakout season in 2012. But that guy could probably crush as a Ranger.
Why's everyone wanna trade Elvis?
Profar'll get his turn. Maybe we need to teach him how to play CF for a while THEN, if we lose Elvis or Ian, we have their replacement groomed and ready to go.
Elvis is elite, defensively and way above average offensively. In the #2 slot (or, even leadoff, if you wanna drop Kins to #5), he's perfect. If he walks after 2014, wish him well then cheer for Jurickson as he settles in for 2015.
Elvis is elite, defensively and way above average offensively.
Elvis's career-best wRC+ is 95. That's a ways away from being way above average.
"In the #2 slot (or, even leadoff, if you wanna drop Kins to #5), he's perfect."
Tom Tango's research on optimal lineups concludes that the # 2 hitter should be the best hitter on the team. That doesn't describe Elvis.
I've argued before that the Upton brothers are almost twins. The major difference in their performance is that Justin was lucky enough to both land in an inferior league and in a better hitter's park.
"Tom Tango's research on optimal lineups concludes that the # 2 hitter should be the best hitter on the team. That doesn't describe Elvis."
^^^^ So that's why E. Grant and T.R. Sullivan want PADMY to bat 2nd next year. It all makes sense now.
Justin -- 10.0% (BB rate), 22.3% (K rate; 19.0 the last two years); .278/.357/.475BJ -- 10.6% (BB rate), 25.1% (K rate; 25.9 the last two years); .255/.336/.422
Justin Upton is younger and has the a much higher ceiling. I'll take Justin.
"So that's why E. Grant and T.R. Sullivan want PADMY to bat 2nd next year."
Yes, I imagine that Grant and Sullivan have well-worn copies of "The Book" on their bookshelves and Tom Tango's blog is saved to their favorites. I also suspect that Tango and Grant exchange frequent emails about the tremendous value of leadership and other intangibles that compensate for the inability to play baseball at a major league level.
B/w 2009-11 Chase Field added nearly 50 points to the OPS of righties relative to the Trop. If BJ played half his games at Chase Field instead of the Trop, that might add roughly 25 points to his OPS. So his career OPS would be about .785. That's still 50 points less than Justin. And as Eric points out, Justin's younger.
The advantage of signing BJ would be that he's a FA so it only costs money and not Elvis. And BJ is probably somewhat better defensively.
As an addendum to this post, Fangraphs now allows you to compare parks by handedness. A score of 100 is a neutral park. Here are the park factors for righties at Chase Field and RBIA (calculated based on 5 years of data).
So assuming there haven't been any major changes to Chase in recent years, it appears that Chase and RBIA are about equally generous to righties. Chase is a little better for 2Bs and 3Bs. RBIA is a little better for HRs.
Bottom line: I wouldn't expect Upton's home #s to change much if he's traded to the Rangers.
I'm still a little concerned about how Upton will perform on the road. The Angels, A's, and Mariners all have parks that are neutral to below avg. for righties. The Astros park is a little more generous, but not by much.
Ultimately, I still think Andrus for Upton is a good idea. Upton will be a v. good hitter in RBIA, and he's a good defender.
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