People are still, and I mean vigorously in some cases, defending Willie Bloomquist. Is he going to be this year’s Jose Bautista, an out of nowhere performer who ends up leading his club to a fantasy championship? Could I be completely wrong in my scathing review of Bloomquist from last week in Around the Horn: April 8, 2011? After all Willie is leading baseball in steals with six (tied with Matt Kemp). In case you didn’t watch my video on Bloomquist because you can’t stand my ugly mug, let me lay out the plain facts for you yet again.
(1) In his career he has hit .266. The league average since he began his career in 2002 is .269.
(2) Willie has a .318 career OBP. The league average in that time is .335.
(3) Will has a career SLG of .339. The league average during that time has been .427.
So to review he is not a league average performer in batting average, OBP or SLG. Not a one of them.
(4) Bloomquist has 1,909 at-bats at the big league level, the equivalent of about four full big league seasons. However, he’s only had one season with more than 255 at-bats in nine years. Why do you think that is? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he isn’t a league average performer in AVG/OBP/SLG? If he was really that good a player, would he really never have caught the eye of his current manager?
(5) He has no power. Bloomquist has 14 homers – in his career. Even if he was give 500 at-bats this year at his career pace he would hit four homers. Four.
(6) In a 9-year career he has never once platted more than 29 runners, and that was in 2009 when he had 434 at-bats. Clearly he isn’t a run producer.
(7) Per 500 at-bats in his career he’s scored an average of 74 runs. That’s a decent total, but it hardly makes up for his average of four homers, 39 RBI an a .266 batting average.
(8) What about the steals – the thing everyone is so jazzed about right now? Willie has always been a solid single league pickup for his ability to swipe a bag, there is no disputing that. At the same time we are talking about a guy who has only once season of more than 16 steals, and a major reason for that is that he’s never been able to convince anyone to make him a daily add to the lineup card.
Over at BaseballHQ they developed a way to measure stolen base effectiveness called Stolen Base Opportunity (SBO) which record “a rough approximation of how often a base-runner attempts a stolen base.” The big league average is usually about 10 percent, and in his career prior to this season Bloomquist had a mark of 23.7 percent, obviously a much better mark than the average big league base runner. What’s that mark this season? How about 58.3 percent. You don’t need me to say anything other than there is no way he’ll be able to keep up that pace, right?
First off, stop the insanity people. Bloomquist will never ever play over a healthy Stephen Drew. So put that thought right out of your mind. And that brings up a key factor here – where will Willie play? He’s spent the past two games in the outfield, but really, how many teams can run a guy out there everyday if he can’t hit for average, can’t get on base, and can’t drive the ball? Moreover, what positions does Willie qualify for this year in your league? He’ll be outfield eligible in all leagues, but last year he only appeared in six games at second, 11 at third and one at shortstop. This year he’s played five games at short, so he’ll likely qualify there in many leagues, but if he’s only outfield eligible for you right now his value is diminished substantially.
You already know how I’m going to finish this report. Willie Bloomquist will not become this years Jose Bautista. He has no power, isn’t very good at producing runs, and as I’ve stated a couple of time, he isn’t even a league average hitter in AVG/OBP/SLG. Sure he’ll steal a base, but even then there is no way that he’ll likely even hold on to 60 percent of the SBO rate he is currently sporting the rest of the way. Even with his amazing start, which I give him full props for, there is no way that I’m counting on a difference making season from Bloomquist. Maybe six months from now I will look foolish for what I’ve written today, but my confidence level is high that I’ll end up in the right on this one.
By Ray Flowers