If I am being honest with everyone, I haven’t exactly filed through the list of major league players that were non-tendered by their teams on Monday. The main guy that got my attention was Joe Saunders of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Saunders is the very definition of a 5th starter, and since the Tigers are in the market for one, and Saunders is left-handed, he seems to be a fit. The viability of Saunders coming to Detroit is an entirely different article, and one we might approach in the coming days. Besides, I would rather not upset my stomach right now, as I don’t have any desire to be running to the toilet right now.
However, there is another name that caught my eye. Tiger killer Luke Scott.
Baltimore non-tendered the power hitting lefty, and on Monday Scott became a free agent. Reportedly there is significant interest in Scott, and there probably should be. Until the 2011 season, in which he battled serious injury, Scott’s OPS for the previous 5 years was living in the .800+ range. That is a heck of a productive hitter. As a DH, 1B, and LF, he has hit in the middle of Baltimore’s order, and is just one year removed from his best season in 2010.
How good was that 2010 season?
Pretty darn good. In fact, it was excellent. Scott hit 27 homers and drove in 72 runs. He not only hits for power, he gets on base. In 2010, his BB rate was 11.4%, and over his career it is 11.1%, so he is going to draw some walks as well. His ISO in 2010 was .251, which is absolutely tremendous. He finished the season with an OPS of .903, a wOBA of .387, and a wRC+ of 140. For those that aren’t advanced metric geeks out there, these numbers all suggest an elite power hitter, who is massively productive on offense.
Defense is where things begin to get dicey for Scott. I’m sure his agent is out there right now spinning his defensive ability right now as versatile. In reality, it’s because his best position is that of a DH. Scott can play some 1B, and play it alright, but doesn’t have much experience at that position. That leaves us the other position that Scott can play. Drum roll please…….you guessed it, left field. Scott doesn’t particularly play LF well either. In fact, you remember that ultra-productive offensive 2010 I just talked about? His WAR for that season was just 2.7. With offensive numbers like that, one would suspect that Scott is living in the 4 to 5 WAR range. His defense and base running were poor enough to keep Scott out of the discussion of being an elite player.
The assumption of the Orioles, and those around the league is that Scott would have gotten around 6M dollars in arbitration. That should sound pretty familiar to Tigers fans, as we have our own poor defending LF who is scheduled to make around the same amount. Not to beat a dead horse here, but seeing Scott out there on the market right now, kind of makes me wish the Tigers front office didn’t tender Delmon Young. If you are a fan that follows advanced metrics, and most of us are to some extent these days, you can understand my reluctance to welcome back a guy like Delmon Young. He just isn’t that good of a ball player, and it looks like we might be stuck with him.
This is kind of a shame given that the Tigers have made overtures to acquiring Scott several times in the past couple of years. They could still sign him and hope to trade Delmon Young, but I just don’t see that happening. I mean who wants Delmon Young? Plus, Scott is coming back from injury. If the Tigers had non-tendered Young, I could see them more willing to take a chance on Scott. Strategically, signing Scott would make it so an American League contender didn’t have him in the lineup against the Tigers.
They say if you can’t get him out, might as well sign him.
I titled this article alluding to Scott being a Tiger killer. In all honesty, I was even surprised to the extent Scott has caused the Tigers damage. Over his career he has absolutely mashed Tigers pitching, and I am not sure that there is a player out there that has done more against the Tigers. Let me give you a number, .896. That isn’t Scott’s OPS against the Tigers, that is his slugging percentage. His OPS is 1.384. He has hit .358 with an OBP of .488. That is disturbing for the Tigers pitching staff, and more than one pitcher has probably had nightmares of Scott inflating their ERA.
I don’t see Scott wearing a Tigers uniform at this point, and with his shoulder issue, nobody knows if he is going to bounce back to the player he was prior to 2011. I only know that him roaming around the market is a scary proposition for Tigers pitchers, especially if he lands in the A.L Central.
Let’s hope the rest of the teams in the Central stay away from Luke.