Monday, November 8, 2010

Marlon Byrd…Did we get what we wanted from him?

I've wanted to write something on this subject for a month now...I decided I needed to wait until the end of the season just to see what the ultimate data was.

So, the season is now over and I have noticed that a number of people have said that Marlon Byrd was the team’s MVP this year. Well, this was a really crappy season, and Byrd very well might have been the best player on the team, but did we get what we expected out of him this season?

Why am I asking this? I know it seems weird because Byrd has been showered with praise from fans, teammates and even the media. But I look at his “common stats”….home runs and RBIs, and I scratch my head a bit.

12 homers
66 RBI

That really doesn’t look to impressive to me. I'dsee these numbers pop up every time he batted and I scratched my head...what's going on here.

12 and 66…those are rather unimpressive totals for the team’s only all-star this year.

So what do the other numbers say about Marlon Byrd this season?

His OPS was .775, which is slightly higher than his career average, but quite a bit lower than his previous two seasons in Texas. His OPS+ was at 102 which is just slightly below his level in 2009…this, in theory, would account for the different ballpark.

Byrd's batting average of .293 is above his career average and was better than last year’s…but was lower than 2007 and 2008.

But Byrd visually appeared to have a really good season…so what’s missing here?

Well, first off, there is this stat…Byrd scored 84 runs this season, easily a career high for him. This is interesting because the Cubs appeared to have a lot of problems scoring runs this season. So, when Byrd did get on base, he scored. Also, 15% of base runners scored from his plate appearances…which is about average, but a bit above average for the Cubs in general. He also moved runners over at a better than league average clip. He had a 37% productive out rate…much higher than the 33% MLB average.

These are all offensive numbers. The other thing that sticks in the mind of fans is Marlon Byrd diving for balls in the outfield on a daily basis. To analyze this, we go into the world of RAR and WAR, which will eventually lead us to what Byrd’s true worth to the Cubs was this year.

Based on some stats from Baseball-Reference, Byrd was very good at keeping runners from advancing on hits this season with a 54% average (league average is 46%). I don’t know league averages, but he also appeared to do a good job keeping runners from advancing on outs as well.

But let’s shift over to fan-graphs for a little while which has a good break down of RAR (Runs above Replacement). Byrd’s ARM (Outfield Arm runs) is 3.7…this would confirm the numbers we see from Baseball-Reference. What we haven’t talked about is range yet…RngR (Range Runs). This becomes more eye-popping with a 5.4 mark. That’s pretty good. (Compare this to Kosuke’s -12.1 in centerfield last year). In total, Byrd’s defensive value over replacement was 9.3 runs according to fan graphs. We, in Chicago, haven’t seen that sort of outfield defense very often.

Going back to hitting for a second, looking at Byrd’s SABR worth as a hitter, he was 7.5 runs over replacement this season. That was above average for his career, be below what he did last season. When adding up the totals, with the runs from replacement, we have 39.9 runs above replacement this year giving him a WAR of 4.1. And based on the value he would have in free agency, Marlon Byrd was worth $16.5 million this past season.

The Cubs paid Marlon Byrd as a free agent $3 million this year.

Jim Hendry did good…and so did Marlon Byrd. Yes…he is our MVP this year. Now can he continue to do this for the remaining 2 years on his contract when he starts to get paid considerably more money?