(bumped from fanposts. --eric)
I've read a few comments suggesting that Francoeur's power makes up for his OBP, especially on a team like the current Mets, who can get on base but suffer from an inability to score once on. The idea is that a low OBP / high SLG player is more valuable on this team than yet another high OBP / low SLG player.
Could this be true? I'll start with a extreme over-simplication of the Mets' situation. Let's assume we have two players, whom I'll call L. Castilla and J. Francore. Castilla is a singles hitter, but gets on base, while Francore never takes a walk, but can really hit the ball.
Both of these are mediocre hitters, and although their OPS isn't that close, their wOBAs are. (I assigned singles / doubles / home runs / walks to each player and used the basic wOBA formula.)
As a start, assume the team is composed solely of Castilla-type players, and I have the opportunity to trade one for Francore. Will the team score more runs as a result? I'll turn to Base Runs, which is widely considered one of the better run estimators available. Base Runs is a dynamic model and operates on a team level, which means that there are multiplicative effects between players. For instance, walks and home runs will interact.
Skipping the math for the conclusion: A lineup of nine Castillas will score 4.25 runs per game (I fudged here, actually Base Runs per 27 outs). If we replace one Castilla with Francore, the team now scores 4.34 runs per game.
Great! Francoeur is actually an improvement for the Mets, even with his low OBP and inability to take pitches.
Not quite. The real Mets aren't as terrible as a team of nine Castillas, and the real Jeff Francoeur didn't replace Luis Castillo. To measure the impact of trading Church for Francoeur, what we can look at is the actual Mets' results, find the Base Runs, then subtract out all PA by right fielders and add in Francoeur. Since the trade occurred on July 10th, I'll use the Mets before then and all PA by right fielders. The question is which Francoeur to use? I've given him the benefit of the doubt and add in the Francoeur from 2006, who had 29 home runs, a sub .300 OBP, and a .308 wOBA. Next I scaled his 2006 numbers by the PA needed to replace all PA by Mets RFs. For comparison, I also used his season this year with the Braves prior to being traded.
|Team||BsR||BsR / 27|
|Mets (through July 10)||382||4.92|
|Mets - RF||344||4.98|
|Mets - RF + 2006 Francoeur||386||4.93|
|Mets - RF + 2009 Francoeur||374||4.77|
|Mets - RF + 1975 Kingman||390||4.98|
I threw the last one in there for a real low OBP / high SLG comparion. Kingman's OBP was .284 and SLG was .494 that year.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but the Mets have not had good production out of right field at all this year. However, even if Francoeur returned to hitting 29 home runs a year, he'd be a marginal improvement to this team. I think in certain circumstances sacrificing OBP for SLG can help a team score more, but Francoeur is not the answer. I also can't help but note that since being traded, Church actually has a higher SLG than Francoeur, albeit in limited at bats.