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The Season That Was: Vernon Wells

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I guess you really don't need me to tell you Vernon Wells had a terrible season. After a 2008 season that was about as good offensively as you could hope for except for missing a third of he season with various injuries. I thought he was likely to have a good year after an off season with a new personal trainer and the carrot of wanting to play or the US team in the World Baseball Classic but with amount of time he missed the season before, he wasn't allowed to play in the WBC and a hamstring injury in spring training slowed him some. 

In the Community Projection Project we guessed that Vernon would have a .340 OBP and .500 SLG in 600 plate appearances. We were off by a bit....


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Vernon Wells 158 630 84 164 37 3 15 66 48 86 17 4 .260 .311 .400

We were short 84 PA, we kind of guessed he might miss some time through injuries and we didn't figure on Cito playing him every day, no matter what. And he was 29 points short on OBP and 100 points short on slugging. 

Fangraphs has him at a -0.1 WAR, so he almost made it back to replacement level with a late season surge. To be fair, replacement level for the Jays, at CF, is likely far worse than they figure. His BABIP was .282, slightly low but then he had a pretty high percentage of pop ups and soft ground balls. His line drive rate was quite low, 14.8%

His longest hitting streak of the year was 11 games in September. His longest homerless streak was 38 games May 6 to June 20.

Surprisingly enough he hit lefties (.206/.279/.323) far worse than right handers (.278/.322/.425). In the past he's hit left handers better than righties. I don't know why he'd reverse it this year. He wasn't all that much worse against RHP than his career norms. 

You likely know he hit much better on the road (.300/.335/.444) than at home (.214/.285/.348). If you knew he would have had these weird splits before the season started you could have worked a strange platoon system for him. Bat him in the middle of the order on the road against RHP, sit him at home against lefties.

Hitting by Month:

April          .282/.345/.465

May           .252/.300/.361

June         .212/.259/.346

July           .271/.287/.447

Auguest   .260/.339/.410

Sept./Oct  .285/.331/.390

So, he started off the season ok and went downhill quick after that. 

And, as you know, he didn't hit well with RISP, .205/.300/.329.

His favorite team to play? He had 3 good games against the Cincinnati Reds (.417/.462/.917) and he hit the Tigers well (.429/.500/.643) in 8 games. Least favorite? Well, he didn't have a hit in 3 games against the Marlins

Fielding? Fangraphs had him at -17.6 UZR on the season, worst in the AL among regular CFers but -12.2 UZR/150 which was second worst, slightly better than Jacoby Ellsbury. That's not exactly a selling point, slightly better than Ellsbury in CF. He only made 1 error all season for a .997 FP. I thought his fielding improved as the season went on, early in the season balls seemed to be falling at his feet a lot, later on he seemed to be moving better to the ball. Maybe the hamstring troubles slowed him more than they let on early in the year.

I'd like to think that next year will be better, I don't see how it wouldn't be but then I don't know why this year was so bad. I'm not sure that Wells knows why. He was amazing durable this year starting 153 games in CF. Only Cito could play a guy in 153 games who was having that bad a season. But then after letting Rios go we really didn't have anyone else to play CF. 

One of my questions, all season, was that if Cito and Gene Tenace are such great batting coaches why couldn't they help Vernon?