Casper Wells joins the A's
Casper Wells continues his quest to haunt1 every ballpark in the American League by joining the A's, who paid a little bit of cash to the Blue Jays to acquire him. This is after stints in Detroit and Seattle, although note that the Blue Jays never actually got him into any games in his brief time on the roster.
Wells was a 14th-round pick back in 2005, with other players from that round being Rusty Ryal and Scott Van Slyke. It's fair to say that Wells making it this far means he's an overachiever. (Pedro Alvarez was also taken in that round, but that was out of Horace Mann, i.e. high school, not his later number two overall selection from Vanderbilt.)
We don't have the most major-league data on Wells, as he's accumulated about a season's worth of plate appearances (656) in his three-plus years in the bigs. What we do see is a low-average hitter due to a ton of strikeouts (a 25.9 percent rate that ranks 32nd out of the 400 hitters who accumulated at least 500 PAs from 2010 to the present) who is neither averse to nor especially fond of the base on balls, but who does have a fair amount of pop (.189 isolated power from 58 extra-base hits). That slugging percentage plus the fact that he's played in some tough parks (Baseball Prospectus has him at a 94 batter park factor, which means that the mix of places he's played, home and road, has depressed offense by six percent) means that he's actually been an above-average hitter for his career, coming in at a .279 TAv, which is more generous than the 109 OPS+ and identical 109 wRC+ you see at Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. The difference in this sample, though, is a quibble, and all three agree that what we've seen is an above-average hitter.
PECOTA and Steamer also agree that what we'll continue to see is an above-average hitter. I don't see anything in the PITCHf/x numbers to make me question that. Wells has bad contact numbers, but they appear to be swing- or tools-driven, not necessarily about a terrible approach: he actually swings less than average on pitches outside the strike zone, and more than average on pitches in the zone. Now, that's not everything, and a look at his BP hitter profile provides a bit more insight:
What we've got here is his entire career swing rate, normalized to right-handed hitters, so what you're seeing in those percentages is how much more or less often than other righties that he swings at pitches in each of those locations. And, as the note at the bottom says, this is from the catcher's view, i.e. Wells as a righty is standing on our left, i.e. he's chasing altogether too much at the pitch low and away. There's literally nothing good that can come of swinging at that pitch. How many players can hit a slider low and away with any authority?
Full disclosure, though:
That one shows his normalized True Average. It thus only counts pitches on which he makes contact, but check out the low and away -- in four of those five border zones, he's actually getting above-average value when he makes contact out there.
I guess the lesson of this very quick analysis is: don't do baseball analysis. It's too goddamn hard.
Wells's place on the roster is uncertain. Michael Taylor will get sent back to Sacramento as soon as Wells arrives, which is supposed to be Tuesday. Yoenis Cespedes, however, is due back from his disabled list stint soon, and there's no hint in the newspapers that this trade means he's had some sort of setback.
Thus, there are two possibilities.
First, the tight-fisted A's paid cash for Casper Wells so that he could provide an upgrade on Michael Taylor for the next five days.
Second, Wells will stick around even once Cespedes comes back.
The second sure sounds more plausible than the first, but it's going to require some thinking about the roster:
The other alternative is that the A's will simply make another move, flipping Wells along to yet another team. This strikes me as unlikely, mainly because how often do you actually see it happen? Beane did it with Ryan Langerhans, sure, but I'd put the odds of it happening again significantly lower than the odds that Freiman is cut. Here's my rank order:
Unless there's a Chris Young swap (for what, exactly? An upgrade at second?) in the offing, I only see three legitimate possibilities + two weird ones.
Beaneball by Jason Wojciechowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.