Last year, I tried to reconcile our feelings for Bengie Molina. Why was the great stronghold of unwashed internet baseball nerds so anti-Molina? Because I’m really, really smart, I answered all of those questions in that post.
It’s time for another big picture post.
No, no. I mean "big picture" as in "wide, nuanced view." One of the easiest targets on the 40-man roster, if not the easiest, is Eugenio Velez. He seems like a nice enough fellow. But he kind of drives a lot of folks up the wall. And now he’s back. So I thought I’d try my hand at another one of these posts…
What Eugenio Velez represents:
The organization’s complete disregard for minor league statistics
Velez has one season in the minors that hints at anything more than a back-of-the-bench utility guy, and that season was as a 24-year-old in low-A. Twenty-four! The numbers were shiny, but they lacked context. The Giants, who just don’t care for minor league stats one way or the other, formed an opinion on how Velez looked. He probably looked great – he hit 20 triples and stole 64 bases against a bunch of teenagers and guys in their early 20s.
The organization’s complete disregard for sample sizes
When Velez was recalled from Fresno, he hit .429/.458/.661 in 56 at-bats. It was awesome to watch. Most front offices would think, wow, that was unexpected, and then continue to assume that Eugenio Velez was Eugenio Velez. But the Giants don’t think like that. No, those 56 at-bats were evidence that Velez has "turned the corner", "figured it out", or "is spinning on the ball better because of (new stance)/(new glasses)/(hard work in the cages)," so they promptly inserted Velez into the lineup for the rest of the year. After those 56 at-bats, Velez hit .233/.282/.358, which is about what one would expect.
I don’t even know how to title this section
Eugenio Velez is one of the worst hitters against left-handed pitching in the majors. For his career, he’s a .206/.275/.254 hitter against lefties. In 416 minor league at-bats, Velez has hit .240/.287/.351 against lefties. The Giants, specifically Bruce Bochy, don’t treat Velez as if he’s a hitter with platoon splits. It’s bizarre. Against lefties, Velez is barely a better option than Matt Cain, and that isn’t hyperbole.
Eugenio Velez is one of the worst hitters against left-handed pitching in the majors. Eugenio Velez is one of the worst hitters against left-handed pitching in the majors. Eugenio Velez is one of the worst hitters against left-handed pitching in the majors. Please react accordingly, Giants.
An odd organizational choice
The Giants had two players who took goofy routes in the outfield, made several baserunning blunders, and generally didn’t seem as if they were the headiest players on the field. One took walks and got on base throughout his minor league career, the other didn’t. The Giants preferred the player who didn’t get on base, giving the other one away for a bag of dandruff. Why? Probably because of those aforementioned 56 at-bats, and I wish I were kidding.
I’m probably in the minority around here: I still think Velez is a decent 25th-man. He’s fast, even if he doesn’t run the bases well, and he does okay against right-handed pitching. He can fill in at a couple of different positions, even if he’s an infielder like Pedro Feliz is a catcher. I don’t mind him on a team in the right situation.
But every time Velez gets a start, every time he’s put in as a pinch-hitter, he makes my brain release chemicals that make me think of all those things in gray up there. That’s not his fault at all. He tries hard. I’ve never seen him take anything for granted and loaf around the outfield. He’s just the perfect player for an imperfect organization. He's also the perfect scapegoat for a bunch of internet know-it-alls. Guilty as charged, but at least now I've explained why.