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Community Projection: Aaron Rowand

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One of the most irritating things about being a Giants fan right now is that we’re guilty by association. Guilty of thinking stupid things, that is. For example, typing something like this:

Man, that Rowand contract seems silly, but hopefully he can give us a couple of good seasons.

…might provoke a response like this …

lol jints fans counting on crap veterans with philly inflated #s dude rowand is done lol sabean

The Rowand signing made no sense, but that doesn’t mean that it was destined to be a total disaster. Did anyone expect Rowand to repeat his 2004 (.310/.361/.544, 24 HR) or 2007 (.309/.374/.515, 27 HR)? I doubt it. Those seasons both came in parks that were slightly favorable to hitters (park factors of 104), and his 2005 and 2006 were as meh as the aforementioned seasons were spectacular, so his inconsistency wasn’t a secret. But it wasn’t unreasonable to think Rowand would split the difference, at least for the first couple of years of his contract.

I know it’s horrible math just to add up his OPS+ from 2004-2007 and divide by four, but the 108 OPS+ that’s spit out by doing that is pretty close to what I was expecting from Rowand – essentially the season that Matt Kemp had last year (.290/.340/.459, 18 HR, with above-average defense.) That player would have been worth the contract in last year’s market, at least in the short term. The length of the contract was a little silly, but like Zito, I at least had some optimism when it came to the early returns.

The offense wasn’t there, though it seems worse because Rowand’s wretched .242/.309/.356 second half probably clouds our judgment a bit. It was painful to watch. What bothered me more than the offensive sputtering was the lackluster defense. He wasn’t a hippo with shin splints out there, but he wasn’t the rangy wunderkind that we were told to expect. The stats agreed with my eyes, but the numbers also hinted that last year was a bit of an anomaly. Or, you know, a brutal age-related decline, but I’m trying to ignore that possibility.

For 2009, and 2009 only, I’m going to think happy thoughts about Rowand’s performance in the field and at the plate. That doesn’t mean that the contract makes sense, but it means that I can still hope for those short-term benefits mentioned up there. You know, like Zito last year.

The projection systems from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus:

Bill James: .276/.339/.438, 18 HR
CHONE: .273/.338/.421, 14 HR
ZiPS: .278/.346/.420, 13 HR
PECOTA: .275/.336/.444, 14 HR

Not a bad player, especially if he can play a better center. He’ll never be worth $12M, obviously, but I’m a little more optimistic than the above projections.

Aaron Rowand

AB: 560
AVG: .286
OBP: .341
SLG: 457
HR: 17
Defense: average