2012 Midseason Grades: Offense

With an extra day off before the second half starts, it’s time to get to midseason grades. (Of course, life doesn’t give days off, so these are going to be relatively brief.) As always, the grades are in relation to what was reasonably expected of the player at the beginning of the season, not in comparison to other players, so just because Aaron Harang gets a decent grade does not mean he’s one of the best players on the club. Fewer than 50 plate appearances or 10 innings pitched gets you an incomplete.

Catchers

A.J. Ellis .285/.404/.425 3.0 fWAR (A++)

We’d all been calling for Ellis to get more playing time for at least a year and probably two, but anyone who says they saw this coming is being something less than truthful. Even with the June slump everyone went through, he’d be one of the top ten OBP guys in baseball if he’d had enough plate appearances to qualify. Oh, and he follows me on Twitter, noted several of us here for trying to get #AJ2KC going, spawned his own legendary facts, and still finds the time to do his hilarious “Between Two Palm Trees” series. Best guy in baseball? Hard to argue.

Hey, remember when the Dodgers wanted to play Dioner Navarro ahead of him? Me neither.

Matt Treanor .224/.299/.397 0.1 fWAR (C+)

I think it says a lot – a lot – about how little we thought of Treanor coming into the season that he rolls into the break with a .299 OBP and the general consensus is “hey, not bad.” Of course, this all seemed better before he went hitless over his last five starts. He’s still not Chris Capuano‘s personal catcher, right?

First Base

James Loney .247/.309/.333 -0.2 fWAR (F)

I am so sick of talking about James Loney. He gets an F (“boy, this guy sucks”) rather than a C (“yeah, but we knew he’d suck”) just because his great finish to last year actually gave us hope he might have found something. He did not, and you know you’re bad when your team sees Carlos Lee as an upgrade. This might not be his last month as a Dodger, but it almost certainly is his last summer.

Juan Rivera .257/.294/.352 -0.2 fWAR (D-)

This is where the ratings system gets flawed. Does Rivera deserve a better grade than Loney? Probably not, but I also expected so little of him, whereas at least Loney gave you some kind of hope. Honestly, I wish I could find some sort of listing for “biggest contract immediately after being DFA’d”, because this deal never made sense, ever – Rivera was lousy for the entirety of 2011 with the exception of the first four weeks or so he was a Dodger. Baseball Prospectus named him the “worst value” of any of last winter’s one-year deals recently, and I can’t say I disagree. Useless on offense, worse on defense.

Second Base

Mark Ellis .271/.371/.361 1.5 fWAR (B+)

This is a tough one, you know. For the first six weeks or so, Ellis was proving all of us who were unsure about his signing wrong, putting up a nice OBP to go along with solid defense at second. Then his leg exploded when Tyler Greene took him out at second, and the Dodger infield sort of fell apart after that. Yet while the injury seemed like a freak event, it’s hard to act as though it’s any sort of surprise that an older player with an injury history (average of 33.5 days on the DL over the previous four seasons) got hurt. I suppose that’s more on Ned Colletti than Ellis.

Jerry Hairston .297/.369/.424 1.3 fWAR (A-)

Hairston would probably get a full A if he hadn’t missed three weeks due to a hamstring injury and struggled in June along with everyone else, but his value has been clear nonetheless. I have a lot of doubts about him keeping this up – he’s already showing signs of declining – but that’s a discussion for another day. So far, so good.

Ivan De Jesus .273/.324/.364 0.1 fWAR (?)

How am I really supposed to give a serious grade to a guy who was nailed to the bench for weeks at a time? I don’t know if we’ll ever know exactly what De Jesus did to anger the Dodgers so much, other than the nebulous “clubhouse issues”, but the fact that he’s been missing out on September callups should have given us a clue as to his standing even before this season. How he’s still in the organization, I don’t know; with the amount of deals we expect to see in the next few weeks, it should surprise no one if he’s a toss-in to some club willing to give him a chance.

Shortstop

Dee Gordon .229/.280/.222 -0.8 fWAR (Dee-minus)

Yeeesh. We all expected growing pains, but Gordon’s been the worst regular shortstop in baseball by more than one measure, and his problems have come both on offense and defense. There’s been flashes, of course, especially on the basepaths, and I still remain hopeful for his future, but probably the only thing worse than Gordon’s play this year is Don Mattingly’s insistence on hitting him leadoff constantly. Perhaps the time away while he recovers from his thumb injury will be good for him.

Justin Sellers .205/.286/.386 0.3 fWAR (D)

Damn you, for getting exactly 50 PA and therefore getting a grade. I can’t wait until this roster gets to a point where trying to talk ourselves into a guy like Sellers isn’t needed any longer.

Luis Cruz .318/.385/.500 0.3 fWAR (inc.)

If you’re not in on the joke, there’s two or three guys on Twitter who have been hounding me for weeks, if not months, that Cruz is the best shortstop in Triple-A and deserves to be in the bigs. (The irony that the best shortstop in Triple-A is something akin to the tallest midget apparently being lost on them.) While I have no doubt that Cruz is a solid defender, his career minor league OBP is .298, and his home/road splits this year and ludicrous, and… oh, screw it. He’s been fine for 37 at-bats. I’ll eat my hat if he’s hitting .318 at the end of July. Mmm… hat.

Third Base

Juan Uribe .194/.250/.271 0.0 fWAR (JUAN URIBE THE WORST URIBE)

GO. AWAY.

Uribe is neck-and-neck with Loney in terms of “guys I’m sick of discussing.” He almost makes me ill to look at him in a Dodger uniform. Seriously though, whether he gets DFA’d now or later, it’s coming, and as bad as well thought this contract was the day it was signed – and we did – the fact that he’s barely going to survive half of it is shocking. Can’t wait to post the picture of him shaking hands with Colletti again.

Elian Herrera .243/.326/.331 (A)

Yeah, I know he’s been awful lately and that his hot start was a fluke. (I mean, really awful. Nine hits in his last 64 at-bats awful.) I’m pretty sure he’s not even really a big-league quality player. I also know that on May 1, none of us had ever even heard of this guy, and for a few weeks in a desperate situation, he provided a nice spark. There’s your A.

Adam Kennedy .228/.315/.309 0.3 fWAR (F)

Look, I was able to make a reasonable argument that he’s actually less valuable than Uribe. There was no chance that this was going to work, and it didn’t. What more needs to be said?

Left Field

Bobby Abreu .272/.371.377 0.7 fWAR (A)

Abreu gets an A, even though he’s a poor outfielder, even though he’s hitting .200/.268/.262 over the last month, even though the memories of his good start will almost certainly earn him more playing time than he deserves down the stretch and potentially even a return engagement in 2013. He still gets that A because he came in off the trash heap and was actually really good, at a time where the Dodgers were desperate for any sort of production. Now let’s hope that his playing time continues to decrease as the year goes on. And, please, please, don’t sully my good memories of him by making me hate him for coming back next year and doing a one-man production of “Garret Anderson‘s 2010″.

Jerry Sands .200/.238/.300 0.0 fWAR (inc.)

At least we knew Kennedy, Uribe, and the rest would be terrible. For most of the winter, we were hoping Sands would win the every day left field job, or at least supplant Loney at first. Not only did he not do any of those things, he’s been a mess in ABQ, falling behind Scott Van Slyke on the depth chart. I have no idea what happened here; what a disappointment.

Center Field

Matt Kemp .355/.444/.719 2.3 fWAR (B-)

I have no idea how to grade Kemp. For a month, he was the best player on the planet, but how far away does that seem now? He missed 2/3 of the first half with that bad hammy, and while you don’t want to kill a guy for being hurt, his absence was enormous. If he’s back healthy in the second half, no team will have a bigger addition.

Tony Gwynn .240/.288/.307 0.2 fWAR (C)

Gwynn is one of those guys who I can never seem to agree with people on, because there seemed to be an upswell of “hey, he’s hitting!” sentiment at points this year. Um, nope: that line above shows he’s just as impotent at the plate as ever. Of course, he’s still a fantastic glove, so he’s basically being exactly the guy you’d expect he’d be. Here’s to seeing a whole lot less of him as Kemp & Ethier return healthy.

Right Field

Andre Ethier .291/.357/.491 2.6 fWAR (B+)

That line adds up to an .848 OPS. Ethier’s career line? .291/.363/.480, .844. So he’s basically doing what he’s always done, except that with run-scoring down this year, it’s a bit more valuable. I’m still apprehensive about the huge deal he signed, especially as he seems more and more injury-prone, but at least for now you can’t argue with the production.

Scott Van Slyke.167/.196/.315 -0.3 fWAR (D+)

Van Slyke wasn’t, well, good, but he really never should have been in the bigs at this point anyway. Which he almost certainly won’t be on Friday when two roster spots are needed. But hey, we’ll always have that pinch-hit three-run dinger, right?

Alex Castellanos .143/.174/.238 -0.4 fWAR (inc.)

Of all the hamstring injuries the Dodgers suffered this year, one of the most unappreciated may have been the one AC suffered in ABQ in late April. As the big league club dropped like flies, Castellanos was almost certainly going to be the first Isotope recalled, since he was tearing up the PCL (and being one of the few ‘Topes to do so on the road). His injury cost him a major opportunity, and he didn’t do much in limited time once he healed. I still hope he’s got a future, but it really does hinge on his ability to play a passable second base. Hey, the next Ellis injury can’t be that far away…

Pitchers tomorrow! (Hopefully.)

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