Why The Jays Should Acquire Vernon Wells

This morning I read how the Angels may be trying to package Vernon Wells in a Dan Haren swap. The Angels have (reportedly) been close to simply releasing Wells all together, so they may take any possible salary relief they can get. Instead of giving up a prospect for Haren, I'd like to see the Jays acquire Haren and Wells for salary relief. I think if the Jays took off 5M off the Wells deal (2.5 for 2 years) and 1M from the Haren 'would-be buyout' the Angels would have to at least think about it. The money they will save from Vernon would net them a decent reliever on the free agent market, something they have been looking for.

This post isn't necessarily trying to prove 'Why we should trade for Haren', but instead of why we should look to acquire Wells for next to nothing.

How the Jays traded Vernon (and his contract) after the 2010 season I will never know. Contract aside, he was a very good player in 2010 having a 3.8 WAR in Toronto. After two disastrous years for the Angels, and now he is a candidate to be released. Surely Vernon is not what he once was, but I don't think he is as far off as most people expect.

  • First I'd like to point out two things about Vernon's 2010 season. First, he was a 3.8 WAR player despite a poor defensive rating. Vernon is no longer a regular CF (in my view at least) and should be counted on for above average defence in a corner OF spot (as he has provided the last two years for the Angels). The second thing I would like to point out is that Vernon's BABIP that year was slightly below his career average. My point being, he wasn't finding more holes in the defence than normal (his success wasn't due to a ton of luck).
  • Vernon had a 2010 batting line of .273/.331/.515 to go along with 31 HR. For the 77 games he played in 2012 his line was .230/.279/.403...Ouch.
  • A quick look at those numbers suggests his value isn't what it once was, no kidding. However, looking into some of his advanced stats prove he may not be that far off.
  • One thing that has not been on Vernon's side is luck. His BABIP in his two seasons as an Angel has been .214 and .226, significantly lower then his career average of .280. Now this huge drop in BABIP interested me, so I looked into his Batted Ball stats. Vernon hit 15.9% line-drives in 2010, extremely close to the 15.7% he hit in 2012. This season he hit the exact same percent of fly balls as he did in 2010, and is hitting nearly 4% less infield fly's then he did in his 3.8WAR season. Vernon hit very slightly more ground balls this year then in 2010 (42.4 v.s 42.1) but that shouldn't result in much of a difference in BABIP.
  • 2012 Vernon struck out just 0.4% more then 2010 Vernon which really is almost identical to his career strike out rate. Vernon's walks have dropped less then two percent, which is likely because pitchers aren't pitching around him like they used to.
  • So what about Vernon's power? His 31 HR in 2010 surely can't be duplicated... or can it? In 2012, Vernon hit 11HR in 262 PA (1 HR per 23.8 plate appearances). If he was given 646 Plate appearances (as he was in 2010), Vernon would end up with 27HR over the full season. If you consider the average over his two seasons in LA, he would have 29HR. A move away from the pitcher friendly Angel Stadium, and back to the homer friendly Rogers Centre could boosts his power numbers even more.
  • Now I'm not saying expect a 3.8 WAR season from Vernon in 2013, but he could be a valuable player for any team. With similar LD, GB and FB% from 2010 it appears Vernon's BABIP is destined to jump back nearly fifty points to its 2010 level. Vernon may have an injury history but also should have a better defensive rating then in 2010. Is a .260 average with 25 HR a crazy prediction for Vernon? The couple million he will likely cost may even be worth it for a PR standpoint, after all he has done in the Toronto community. So as a cheap OF option, is anyone else in for bringing Vernon back for 2012? Even in a bench role?

Hopefully I'm not considered crazy for this.

Let me know what you think in the comments

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