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The Season That Was: Vernon Wells

With a huge contract and coming off a bad season, Vernon Wells didn't start the year a fan favorite. With off-season wrist surgery, there was some hope that Vernon would have a better time of it this year and he did. 

2010 - Vernon Wells 157 590 79 161 44 3 31 88 50 84 6 4 .273 .331 .515

I don't think anyone expect 31 home runs out of him and the 44 doubles (7th in the AL) is pretty nice too. He even took 50 walks, not bad for a first pitch swinger. All that added up to a OPS+ of 127, a big jump from his 86 of 2009. The only part of his game that dropped off was his base stealing, he had 17 in 2009 and only 6 last year. But if the trade off is 31 homers, I'll take it. 

Fangraphs has him at a 4.0 WAR placing him 3rd among AL CFers, behind only Josh Hamilton and Brett Gardner. Folks complain about him swing at the first pitch a lot but he hit .331 with a .617 slugging average  and had 9 home runs when hitting the first pitch. Lots of good batters are first pitch swingers. They know pitchers try to get a first pitch strike and they want to be ready for it. 

He does popup a lot, 19.2% of the time last year, which was a jump from the year before, but his line drive rate also went up 15.9% compared to 14.8% in 2009. What really improved for him was his HR/FB, in 2009 just 6.4% of his fly balls became home runs, last year it was 14.6%. It could have been from his wrist bothering him. He walked a bit more last year (7.7% compared to 7.0%) and struck out a bit more (14.2% compared to 13.7%).

His longest hitting streak was 14 games, from the end of May into June. The longest he went without a hit was 5 games.

As it did in 2009 he hit RHP (.291/.342/.553) better than LHP (.195/.289/.354). I don't know why the switch as happened. Jose Bautista had a reverse split this year too. Is it something in the batting coaching of Cito that has them more prepared for right-handers? It seems strange. 

In 2009 he hit far better on the road than at home, this year it switched, hitting .321/.363/.628 at home and .227/.301/.407 on the road. 

After taking a lot of abuse last year, this year with RISP he hit about his norm, .262/.367/.484.

By month:

April: .337/.396/.717

May: .278/.322/.500

June: .240/.291/.490

July: .236/.289/.348

August: .248/.296/.446

Sept: .298/.387/.587

Started out hot, wilted a bit in the middle and finish strong. I truly believe he could do with a few more off days in a season, playing 157 of 162 at age 31 with his injury history might be asking a bit much. 

His favorite team to play? He hit .545/.683/1.091 in 3 games against the Cardinals (all because I at those games) with 2 home runs. He clubbed the Rangers as well, .382/.500/.1.147 with 8 HR in 10 games. His least favorite? He was 1 for 11 in 3 games against the Giants. Of the AL teams, he hit just .148/.207/.296 in 8 games against the Tigers.

Defense? He looked, to me, a lot better in CF this year. A lot better doesn't mean good though. Last year he was a -18.4 UZR/150, terrible numbers. This year he was -7.0, lots better, all the way up to bad. Last year he rated 2nd worst among major league Cfers, this year there are 3 with a poorer UZR/150 (all NL players, Matt Kemp, Andy McCutchen and Colby Rasmus). So he improved and if he hits like he did this year you could live with his defense. But I still wouldn't mind him moving to a corner outfield spot soon.

Vernon is moving up the Jay's all-time hitting leader boards. He is now 4th in WAR, behind just Delgado, Fernandez and Barfield. He is 3rd in games played, 1st in at bats, 2nd in runs scored, 2nd in hits, doubles and home runs. 

It was really good year for Vernon, he made the All-Star team and wasn't booed (at least wasn't booed as much) in Toronto. We talked less about his contract than last year. Personally I wouldn't rather not talk about his contract ever. 

Vernon has always been one of my favorite players. You'll never see anyone hustle down the first base line harder or go from 1st to 3rd better. Fans always say they want to see players like that, but when they have a bad year, all that is forgotten or ignored. He couldn't possibly be a better guy. He has a great sense of humor and seems like a happy guy. He also does a ton of charity work.