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The season that was: Ezequiel Carrera

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A look at Carrera's 2017 season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2017 season, we had 2 years of watching Ezequiel Carrera, so we had a pretty good feel for what kind of player he was.

He’d been around replacement level for us, he doesn’t quite play the defense that you would expect from a guy with his speed and his experience. He gets on base ok. He runs better than most of our guys but not well enough to be a big base stealer. He has the occasional power you like to see from a 4th outfielder. And he’s a left-handed bat, on a team of right-handed hitters.

He is the type of player that makes a good fourth outfielder, but not someone you would want to see play a lot.

To me, we saw him play too much this year. Not that he was bad:

                                                                          
Year   Age   G  PA  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
2017    30 131 325 38 81 10  1  8  20 10  1 30 75 .282 .356 .408 .764  100

As a hitter...he was league average.

Baseball Reference has him at a -0.4 WAR. FanGraphs liked him much better 0.7 WAR, giving him a value of $5.3 million. It is up to you which you feel best describes his season.

He had a .334 wOBA and a 107 wRC+. Both career bests.

Compared to 2016, Ezequiel walked a bit more (9.2%, up from 8.7) and struck out a bit more (23.1%, from 22.6).

His line drive rate was way up (22.7%, up from 16.6). Ground balls down (48.3%, from 57.8) and fly balls up (29.1%, from 25.7). More of his flys left the park (13.6%, up from 12.5). He hit .214 on bunt single attempts.

His hard contact rate was about the same (25.8%, from 25.4).

His BABIP was .358, up from .311.

He hit right-handed pitchers well (.310/.376/.448) and left-handers not at all (.086/.220/.114). In 2016 he had strong reverse splits.

Carrera hit better on the road (.292/.395/.408) than at home (.274/.321/.408).

With RISP he hit .203/.311/.266. Last year he was very good with RISP.

His first half (.285/.351/.419) and second half (.277/.365/.386), of his season, were pretty even.

Ezequiel by month:

  • April: .313/.333/.406 with 1 home run in 22 games.
  • May: .269/.345/.359 with 2 home runs in 23 games.
  • June: .281/.410/.469 with 2 home runs in 15 games.
  • July: .351/.415/.676 with 3 home runs in 22 games.
  • August: .250/.386/.361 with no home runs in 26 games.
  • September: .225/.278/.250 with no home runs in 23 games.

He was hot in the middle of the season.

Defensively? He played 702.1 innings in the outfield (495 in left, 130.2 in right and 76.2 in center). In total, he had a -13.3 UZR/150. And he was our main defensive replacement. He had 4 outfield errors and 5 outfield assists.

FanGraphs has him at 2.8 runs better than average on the base paths. He stole 10 bases (tied with his rookie season for his career high) and was only caught once. Picking his spots very well.

His longest hitting and on base streak was 12 games. Longest without a homer was 29 games.

His favorite team to face? He hit .364/.364/1.000 with 2 home runs in 6 games against the Astros.

Least favorite? He hit .077/.294/.077 in 4 games against the Braves.

He hit all over the lineup, starting games batting:

  • 1st: 12 times.
  • 2nd: 24 times.
  • 3rd: 1 time.
  • 5th: 1 game.
  • 6th: 6 games.
  • 7th: 15 games.
  • 8th: 5 games.
  • 9th 7 games.

Ezequiel turns 31 next June, but he had his best offensive season this year, so I’m not worried about him turning into a pumpkin just yet.

But I do think it’s time to let one of the younger guys take the fourth outfielder role. Someone that could play better defense wouldn’t hurt. Ezequiel playing center field is something that should never happen.

With his speed, you would think his defense would be good. Maybe his speed is why he never learned to play the outfield well. Maybe when he was younger, his speed could make up for his other troubles in the field.

He seems to jump or dive way too much, and when he does jump or dive, it is very rare that he makes the catch. Fly balls to the track, even when he gets there in plenty of time, he’s going to jump. Balls hit in front of him, needed or not, he’s going to dive.

That the team continued to use him as a defensive replacement shows how poor their other outfielders were.

On the offensive side, he’s just what you might want from your fourth outfield. Left-handed decent bat, good bat for pinch hitting (hit .429/529/.643 in 17 pinch hit appearances), and a good pinch runner. And a good guy on the bench. He seems to get along with everyone. And he doesn’t seem to have any problem sitting for a few days and then going into the game in an important moment.

Ezequiel is eligible for arbitration, for the second time, this winter. He’ll likely come in just short of $2 million, which, by baseball terms, isn’t a lot of money. But, then, if the team wanted to save a bit more than a million dollars, they could go with one of the younger guys. It does seem like fourth outfielder would be an easy spot to get younger, the team has a few young outfielders who are deserving of a shot.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out for Ezequiel this off-season. Odds are we won’t know for him until near the end of spring training. There would be little cost to hold off until the end of spring to make a decision on Carrera.