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Sunday, August 03, 2003
scott hatteberg
rob neyer recently wondered why the a's wanted to re-sign scott hatteberg. after all, his hitting numbers look positively pedestrian:

year tm ab wal con pow pav/pob/psl pra
1997 bos 350 .107 .800 .329 .263/.342/.420 4.96
1998 bos 359 .118 .838 .331 .277/.363/.447 5.77
1999 bos 80 .192 .825 .308 .254/.397/.354 5.42
2000 bos 230 .142 .830 .331 .275/.378/.445 5.99
2001 bos 278 .117 .906 .305 .276/.361/.376 4.99
2002 oak 492 .131 .886 .322 .285/.379/.438 6.39
2003 oak 381 .120 .900 .315 .283/.369/.414 5.74

he doesn't slug like a first baseman, and his on-base numbers are nothing special. what gives?

well, the first thing you can say is he's seeing 3.9 pitches per plate appearance, good for 33rd in the majors. the a's are really into this stat, as reported in moneyball.

why are they so into this stat? because it correlates well with future success. that's enough for it to be important, but those of us who want to understand things delve deeper. are there any of you out there? the only thing i can think of right now is look at that con. it keeps going up! that bodes well for adam dunn.

con or no, the kid still don't make enough runs. is billy beane crazy?

anytime someone smart does something that seems crazy, it's probably some good idea that you don't understand. despite the popular characterization, billy beane is not obsessed with walks and home runs. he's obsessed with underappreciated value.

in this case the underappreciated value is defense. hatteberg was not an asset at catcher. shoulder injuries reduced him to a zero at controlling baserunners. so the a's moved him to first base. to their delight, he became a star. his 21 runs saved over replacement in 2002 is one of the best around.

if we include scott's defensive prowess in his pra, the contrast is stark:

year pra pra+def
2002 6.39 7.97
2003 5.74 7.30

defense for 2003 is pro-rated from 2002. all of a sudden, we have the sixth-best 1b in the majors:

player pra 2003 salary
helton,todd 8.82 $10.6 mil
delgado,carlos 8.52 $17.5 mil
thomas,frank 8.51 $5 mil
giambi,jason 8.36 $11.4 mil
sweeney,mike 7.64 $11 mil
hatteberg,scott 7.30 $1.75 mil
palmeiro,rafael 7.22 $9 mil
thome,jim 7.15 $11.2 mil

nothing to see here. just another case of obscene marginal lineup value.
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