By Jason Wojciechowski on November 16, 2013 at 10:43 PM
The main thing I'm happy about w/r/t1 this post is that I didn't mention Nick Punto in the long list of shortstops (because he's listed as a second baseman on Trade Rumors? Because I missed him? I'm not sure, and he's obviously not on the list anymore because he signed with the A's, so I can't confirm one way or the other) and the main reason I'm happy about that is because I'd probably have shoved him in the "yuck" pile with everyone else and now I'd have to either square my pure excitement that the A's signed him with my prior consignment of said player to said pile or I'd (let's be honest, this is more likely) just pretend I hated him all year.
But like I said, none of this is necessary so I can just be happy and leave it at that. Here are the good things about Nick Punto:
- Plays good defense at three positions (+19 career FRAA in sporadic playing time; +41 Total Zone; +83 DRS; +85 UZR).
Switch-hitter with no real platoon split:
(courtesy FanGraphs, unless they yell at me to stop stealing their shit)
Gets on base at a not-unreasonable rate: .334 over the page five years against something like a .324 league average.
- Might or might not be a good baserunner, but probably is.
- Has so little pop (.077 career isolated power) that the cool night air in Oakland won't do a damn thing to him.
Here's a thing I'd worry about with Nick Punto:
32 percent of his strikes last year were foul balls. Had Nick Punto enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, this percentage would have ranked in the 8th to 10th in all of baseball (141 qualifiers) range. This worries me because we all know about O.co's foul ground and what it does to popups that reach the 12th row in every other stadium.
Now, we don't know what kind of fouls Punto was hitting since I don't think any of the public data sources records pop vs. fly vs. line vs. ground foul balls. If Punto's foul balls are mostly on the ground, say, though for what it's worth his overall ground-ball rate is just a tad below the median for players with 200 PA or greater in 2013 per ESPN TruMedia, then the damage that the large park can do is limited. It's something on which to keep an eye, though.
I'm sure he's going to do some maddening things. He's going to make an error even though he's supposed to be a defensive whiz, which is frustrating because even though we know that nobody is perfect, we can get kind of "YOU HAD ONE JOB" with our baseball players. He's going to dive head first into first base instead of running through the bag because it is just what he does. He's going to not hit real good. But it's probably going to be very hard to stay mad at Nick Punto, little dirtball that he is, and if you want to play the amateur General Manager game and really dig in and evaluate this deal, well, it's $3 million guaranteed dollars, which these days is something like half a win's worth of money and even on the A's is about 1/20th their major-league salary budget. Given how many minimum-salary players remain locked in (Freiman, Straily, Norris, Griffin, Doolittle, Donaldson, Sogard, Scribner, Parker, Milone, Cook, i.e. basically half the team, and if you count Choice and Gray, then literally half the team), they don't have to skimp on their utility infielder / platoon second baseman / defensive replacement at shortstop / clubhouse leader / insurance policy for Jed Lowrie / whatever else his role will entail.
I'm okay with it.
With respect to. ↩