One thing you've certainly noticed if you read Ghostrunner on First at all this season is a certain affinity for Brandon League. I love him because he's unique and because he's awesome. Despite nearly giving up on League in August, by season's end I was convinced of his ability and feel he's ready to make The Leap. All signs point to a monster 2010 for League, for a million different reasons.
I've already drawn attention to his curiously low FIP and superbly low xFIP (lower than Zack fucking Greinke!) and his impressive uptick in strikeouts and strikeout ratio.
Another thing that could work in League's favor? His complete inability to get a call. Jeremy Greenhouse did some awesome work yesterday on Baseball Analysts looking at who "controls the zone" and which players face a larger strike zone. Who was right there at the bottom, with a whopping 35 balls that "should've" been strikes called against him? Why our Brandon League of course! It's an extension of the fine work done by our very own Jon Hale suggesting control pitchers get better calls than power guys. What if League gets even half his missed pitches called strikes? Brandon League is blowing up!
So AA chooses to believe his eyes over the various cloak & dagger defensive metrics when it comes to Vernon Wells's defense. I get it, they're flawed. Many of the flaws come out when the reps get high enough (as Bastian points out - he's averaged -11 UZR over the past three seasons) but that's fine, they aren't the be-all or the end-all. What does AA see, other than a massive inherited contract?
My eyes see a guy that doesn't take terrific routes, for whatever reason. I see a guy chasing the ball rather than running to the spot. I made a similar comment on a DJF post in July, using this video as an example. Wells makes the catch there, but the last second hard right turn is troubling.
Does Franklin Gutierrez use evasive maneuvers at the last second? An extreme example, but no. He runs to the spot, stands around, waits, chats to Ichiro about the latest in tentacle rape porn, then makes the play. Outfielders typically begin declining after they hit 30, so we can't expect Wells to improve. I think he would make a fine right fielder, mostly because I don't have any thing else left to believe.