Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chase Headley: Savior, Switch Hitter, All-Star?

I was going to write up a post about whether the Padres should be buyers or sellers and whether this current winning streak is a good thing. But that felt too negative as I was going to come up with some angle how this winning streak, while fun, could prove detrimental to the Padres long-term goals.

See, negative.

I finally decided "screw it, winning is fun and I'm going to enjoy this while I can. Why rain on this parade?"

So, since it's been a few days since a post and today is an off day anyway, I decided to pick something more positive.

Who will the Padres All-Star Game representative(s) be?

Look, if you are a gambling man, the choice is easy. It's Heath Bell. Deserving no doubt. Bell is tied for second in the National League in saves and is easily the most recognizable Padres to fans that don't reside in the 619 area code (or have Padres games constantly running on their

There have also been calls for Mike Adams. Another worthy candidate. In 36.1 innings pitched, Adams has given up 5 earned runs. 5 total. He has 40 strikeouts in those same 36.1 innings pitched.

I could even see an argument for Tim Stauffer, certainly after the last month he has put together.

But allow me to pause the adoration for Padres pitching staff (deserved as it may be) and present the case for Chase Headley.

This picture chosen specifically for you lovers of the brown uniform. You know who you are.

But this offense is terrible, you're saying. None of the position players deserve to go, you scream.

Respectfully, I disagree.

When Adrian Gonzalez was here, the Padres could pretty much count on at least one position player making an All-Star Game. Same with Tony Gwynn before him.

But look a little closer at Chase Headley's 2011, and you will see that, not only does Chase Headley deserve to go, he may deserve to start.

Admittedly, I'm a Headley apologist. I display his bobblehead on my desk at work proudly.

See, there he is.

Here is your Top 5 vote getters at 3rd base in the NL:
1) Placido Polanco
2) Chipper Jones
3) Pablo Sandoval
4) David Wright
5) Scott Rolen

Guess who leads NL 3rd basemen in BA?
Chase Headley, at .299 (note: to include Pablo Sandoval you have to look at a minimum PA of only 150, in which case Greg Dobbs of FLA leads NL 3rd basemen in BA at .300 with 203 PA vs Headley's 268. But I digress)

The five leading vote getters per BA?
1) Polanco - #5 (.288)
2) Jones - #10 (.252)
3) Sandoval - #3 (.293 in 150 PA)
4) Wright - #16 (.226)
5) Rolen - #9 (.252)

Headley is not being overlooked due to a power shortage either. While Headley has only 2 HR's, no one in the Top 5 of vote getters has double digit HR's (The most? Chipper, at 7)

If BA is a bit archaic for your taste, then keep in mind that Chase Headley leads these Top 5 vote getters in WAR (1.7). Second closest is Sandoval, at 1.5. Headley leads all 3rd basemen in Runs Created/27 outs and is 5th in the NL for extra base hits (The only member of the Top 5 ahead of Headley? Chipper Jones).

I could go further down this SABR road but it's really a forest of numbers and acronyms. Suffice to say, Chase Headley is the most valuable offensive player on the Padres by nearly every statistical metric. And he is outpacing nearly every National League 3rd basemen in nearly every important statistical category as well.

Chase Headley, All-Star? If the idea of the All-Star Game is to showcase the best players in Major League Baseball, Headley deserves and has earned a spot. He doesn't need to start, but he deserves to be on this team.

That being said, a 37-45 team in 4th place (that's right, 4th! Suck it, Dodgers) is unlikely to get more than one player elected. And that player is going to be Bell.

Maybe it's for the best. As a team that must work within a budget, perhaps it is best left unsaid how good Headley is. Keep the demand for Headley low, keep his price low.

And keep him in San Diego.

So, mums the word. Headley? Headley who?

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