The Village Idiot
Posted by The Right Reverend on April 7, 2006
Earlier today I dubbed Juan Encarnacion as the new "village idiot." I realize it's early in the season and maybe it's a bit harsh to start calling the guy names. But it's not just his poor play thus far this season that makes me call him the village idiot, it's his career as a whole. For a guy who is blessed with such athletic talent, he's rarely maximized it.
- Last year, according to Dan Fox's metric, incremental runs, he scored -2.38 runs less then expected. To put things in perspective, Larry Walker, who has a terrific reputation for being a good baserunner scored 2.33 more runs then expected in limited duty.
- In the field, according to another Hardball Times writer, David Gassko, Juan Encarnacion was about 11 runs below average. Baseball Prospectus FRAA (fielding runs above average) Encarnacion scored a -10. According to John Dewan's book, The Fielding bible, Juan Encarnacion was -20 plays below average in the last 3 years.
- His arm may be strong, but Encarnacion has been poor at holding runners, as in 334 oppurtunities, runners have taken 192 extra bases a 57.5%. (That may be a little blind to some of you, pick up the book The Fielding Bible and you'll find it's well below average.)
And these are just the little things, but it's the little things that matter to a club managed by Tony LaRussa. That's not taking into consideration more important things, like his lack of plate discipline. Encarnacion only walks about 7% of the time, and is completely unsuited in the #2 hole. And for playing right field, his power is below average, with only a .172 isolated power.
Why exactly did the Cardinals sign him to a 3 year contract? Maybe he's Jim Edmonds eventual replacement in center field where his skills would be more tolerable, or maybe he was the only option available in a poor winter market, but over the next three years he's going to be hard to put up with. He will be the village idiot until he can prove to me otherwise. If he can hit like he did last season for the next three years, I won't complain again. But I find that bloody unlikely.