I wanted to post this last night, but there's a really good article (and consequently debate in the comments) on comparing the relative value of offensive sluggers who are poor defensively like Adam Dunn, to defensive specialists who bring little value with the bat like Nyjer Morgan. I figure it's a pretty apt thing to look at given all those who think the Giants need to add a bat like Dunn or Jermaine Dye so badly, while ignoring the kind of value that a player like Randy Winn brings, and that in most circumstances Winn is more valuable then most slugging OF'ers, or at least has been in past seasons.
One thing I think is really interesting also, is the debate over defensive metrics as a whole, as they certainly are not what one could deem being an exact science. Whereas offensive value and stats/metrics etc are a little more clear cut and easy to understand.
Anyway, here is the link and a little blurb for those that haven't already read it. I left out most of the meat, which is where Cameron breaks down their strengths in offense, baserunning and defense and talks about where they each are valuable and by how much etc.
Hitting: Dunn, +45
Baserunning, Morgan, +4
Defense, Morgan, +35
Total: Dunn, +6
The gap between Dunn and Morgan, going forward, is expected to be about half a win per season if you use conservative estimates of their respective defensive value.
I’m sorry, but there’s no way that the response from the sabermetric community around these two moves matches that reality. If paying Adam Dunn $10 million per season to be a +2.5 win player is a good idea, then paying Nyjer Morgan $400,000 to be a +2 win player is a great idea. There is no world in which Dunn’s production and salary is more valuable than Morgan’s production and salary. You could acquire 100 Lastings Milledge’s for the amount of money that Dunn is getting to be the big, power hitting equal of Morgan.
There’s just no way around the real conclusion - the sabermetric community, for the most part, has a blindspot when it comes to players with defensive skills at the extremes of the spectrum. Given the cost differences, Morgan is clearly a more valuable asset than Dunn, yet his acquisition is mocked while Dunn’s is celebrated.
Baseball is not just about who can hit the ball further. It’s time we stopped evaluating players on their offensive worth alone.