• Giambi’s Batting Skill Worthless & Yanks Should Cut Him

    Posted by on April 19th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    One of the splits that they track at Baseball-Reference.com is how a batter does against Power and Finesse pitchers. This is how they see each type of pitcher:

    Power pitchers strike out or walk more than 28% of batters faced, Finesse pitchers strike out or walks less than 24% of batters faced. Stats are based on the three years before and after (when available), and the season for when the split is computed. A split in 1994 would consider years 1991-1997.

    Note these Power/Finesse splits for Jason Giambi over the last three seasons – with 2008 being as of this morning:

    2008		PA	 BA	 OBP	SLG     BAbip
    vs.  Power	35	.037	.229	.037	.048
    vs.  avg.P/F	 3	.000	.333	.000	.000
    vs.  Finesse	17	.286	.412	.857	.182
    2007		 PA	 BA	 OBP	SLG     BAbip
    vs.  Power	 84	.176	.333	.206	.293
    vs.  avg.P/F	149	.248	.349	.496	.261
    vs.  Finesse       70	.281     .400	.561	.239
    2006		PA	 BA	 OBP	SLG     BAbip
    vs.  Power	122	.157	.369	.348	.153
    vs.  avg.P/F	311	.280	.434	.561	.296
    vs.  Finesse	146	.271	.404	.712	.207

    Note the difference for Giambi against Power and Finesse pitchers:

    Power	  PA	 BA	 OBP	 SLG    BAbip
    2008	  35	.037	.229	.037	.048
    2007	  84	.176	.333	.206	.293
    2006       122	.157	.369	.348	.153
    Finesse	  PA	 BA	 OBP	 SLG    BAbip
    2008	  17	.286	.412	.857	.182
    2007	  70	.281	.400	.561	.239
    2006	 146	.271	.404	.712	.207

    These splits are interesting. Clearly, over the last three seasons, Jason Giambi is completely over matched against Power pitchers. But, against Finesse pitchers, his OPS numbers are great.

    That said, note the BAbip (Batting Average on balls in play) numbers for Giambi against Finesse pitchers: .182, .239, and .207.

    When I see these numbers, it suggests to me that, against Finesse pitchers, Giambi’s greatest skill is working a walk and hitting some big flys. And, it’s basically that all (BB or HR) or nothing for Giambi against Finesse pitchers. In a sense, it’s as if Jason Giambi’s best offensive weapon here is when the (Finesse) pitcher makes a mistake – meaning a walk or a hanger.

    In summary, it appears evident that Jason Giambi cannot hit a Power pitcher. And, there’s some evidence to suggest that Giambi’s best success against a Finesse pitcher only comes when the pitcher makes a mistake. In total, as a batter, left to his own skill, Giambi – over the last three years – is worthless.

    Yes, I know, I haven’t addressed Giambi’s batting results against “average Power/Finesse” pitchers here. In 2006, Giambi’s numbers against these types were very good. And, in 2007, they were acceptable. But, like the importing/exporting debate on Seinfeld, I would question if “average Power/Finesse” pitchers do more Finesse work than Power work and that’s why Giambi fares well here – like he does against “true” Finesse pitchers.

    Why the Yankees keep running Jason out there, I dunno? I know that Giambi is due $23,428,571 this season. So, I can see why, maybe, the Yankees feel like they need to play him.

    Me? I’d go another way. I would just cut him, at this point. He cannot play the field. He can’t run. And, as the stats show, he’s very limited as a hitter. Sure, you run the risk of him going somewhere else, with you paying him, and maybe hitting some homers (off mistake pitches). But, I’d be willing to trade that for getting someone on the roster (in place of Giambi) that can help the team.

    Comments on Giambi’s Batting Skill Worthless & Yanks Should Cut Him

    1. Raf
      April 20th, 2008 | 12:32 pm

      Speaking of hurting the team… From Lee’s ATM reports

      Jorge Posada -1
      Derek Jeter -1
      Shelley Duncan -1
      Johnny Damon -2
      Wilson Betemit -2
      Jason Giambi -3
      Robinson Cano -8

      Mike Mussina -3
      LaTroy Hawkins -5
      Ian Kennedy -8
      Philip Hughes -8

      3/5 of the rotation has a negative RSAA, and 1/2 the starters have a negative RCAA.

    2. April 21st, 2008 | 6:23 pm

      It’s important to note that using B-Ref’s definitions, power pitchers are much better than finesse pitchers overall. In 2007, hitters’ were .055 points worse in AVG, .033 points worse in OBP, and .080 points worse in SLG against power pitchers.

      While Giambi’s numbers against power pitchers over the last three years are really bad, his numbers against finesse pitchers and those in the middle are phenomenal. You want him up against those guys, but a platoon mate might be nice. Hideki Matsui actually hits power pitchers better than finesse pitchers, but he’s already got a full time gig. Betemit’s similar to Giambi and Duncan doesn’t have enough PA’s to draw any conclusion. Ensberg would be a good fit, though, and he’s a better fielder than Giambi. There you go, your new Yankee platoon: Giambi and Ensberg, Power and Finesse (actually, the other way around).

    3. April 21st, 2008 | 11:19 pm

      Sky, check out Giambi’s sOPS+ against Power pitchers for the last three year. He’s still way below average there, no?

    4. April 22nd, 2008 | 2:49 pm

      Steve, yep. I mentioned that leading off the second paragraph.

      It’s important to remember that “average” in this case isn’t the usual .265/.335/.420 line. League-average against power pitchers is more like .210/.300/.340 – ouch.

    5. April 22nd, 2008 | 6:54 pm

      Giambi’s overall line the past three years is something like .245/.390/.500. If you can look past the batting average, that’s quite good. And that line includes the ugly split of .144/.336/.250 against “power” pitchers. But remember, the league-average split against them is .236/.322/.374 (Giambi can still get on-base, but doesn’t get hits or hit for power).

      Here’s the kicker… In 2008, Giambi has 35 PAs against power pitchers and only 20 against the other two categories combined. That’s 64% against pitchers he doesn’t hit well. In 2006 and 2007, that percentage is only 23%. 23%! Of course Giambi hasn’t hit in 2008 — he’s faced really good pitching against which he’s particularly ineffective. Just wait until he faces all the non-power pitchers and cleans their clocks.

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