Monday, June 22, 2009
My Mind Remains Blown
Pretty much every day, Scott Rolen has done something awesome. If it isn't a funky, clever slide around a tag (don't sleep on his deft one-handed plate tag seen above. Its slickness belied its degree of difficulty) to a charge-and-throw off balance, Scott Rolen's been everything I ever wanted. And more. It was nice to see him pick up a home run in Philadelphia but, let's be honest, that's not his game anymore. And that's okay.
The GBOAT cries are good fun and all, but let's seriously think for a second: is Scott Rolen the greatest Blue Jay of all time? In terms of his body of work, he's right up there in the conversation.
In terms of position players, he has to be close. Roger Clemens has the best numbers of anyone to don Blue Jays colours. That much is hard to dispute. Roy Halladay could well be the greatest Blue Jay of all time, being a home-grown product and all. Carlos Delgado is a class-act and slugger of some regard, but the only player that competes with Scott Rolen's career is Roberto Alomar.
In many ways, Alomar and Rolen's career's are quite similar. At their peaks they were very different players, though they followed equivalent arcs. Alomar had two more huge years than Rolen, though Scott's 2004 season was insane! 1.007 OPS, 31 home runs, and a whole lot of general awesomeness.
Nearly a 5 win offensive player coupled with his 2 win defense and his ability to play every day made him with 8.8 WAR in 2004!! Remember Albert Pujols was worth 8.9 last year. Rolen had 2 seasons worth more than 7 WAR with at least 2 more seasons with WAR of 5. So yeah, he's good. Just eyeballing and guessing, I'd say Roberto's best season was worth around 7 WAR. I'd say he had 5 or 6 seasons of 4.5-5.5 win ball. Certainly impressive.
When discussing two complete players - offensive numbers aren't enough. Thankfully Baseball Reference supplies advanced defense stats that, while not perfect, will at least fill in for now. Be forewarned: the results are mildly shocking.
It turns out, according to Baseball References Total Fielding Runs Above Average, that Roberto Alomar was Jeter before Jeter. For all the jumping, flipping, turning magic we remember, he wasn't that good. I'm floored. Alomar's best year with the glove was 1998 with the Orioles; worth 11.3 runs above average. For his career at second base, Alomar's value is -29.5 runs above(below?) average! These stats obviously aren't the be all or end all, and Robbie certainly had style. That's got to be worth something.
No matter the system, Scott Rolen's defense stands up. While UZR hasn't shown him the love this year, his past years have been off the charts. How does 130.3 career runs above average grab you? By the swollen balls, I can only assume. Rolen's 2004 season counted 26.5 runs above average, not to mention four other seasons in the teens and two more just under 12. Holy. Shit. The recent talk of best defensive third baseman ever is more than just talk (though Brooks Robinson benefits from playing forever, he had two seasons with more than 30 runs saved above average, though the were during the offensively depressed late sixties. Still, yikes.)
I don't think any of us knew what we were getting when Scott Rolen came to town. What we've got isn't even half of what he was, which really says a lot. What we do have is the consummate professional who altered his game as his body changed, allowing him to make positive contributions to wins and my style-inclined heart. Scott Rolen may have lost too many years to injury to classify as a sure-thing Hall of Famer, he's still a pleasure to watch. We're all very, very lucky. GBOAT!