Thursday, September 01, 2011

Revisiting Giavotella

So you picked up Johnny Giavotella for your pennant run. Are you disappointed?

Based on the numbers, you should be. Through yesterday's action, Giavotella has a depressing 1/9/4/12/.237 line across 98 plate appearances. If you picked him up after his first week in the Majors, it's even worse, because you missed some of his best numbers and have a 0/7/3/9/.207 line for your troubles.

If you're in a FAAB league like I am, chances are that your "troubles" were a FAAB bid somewhere in the mid-teens. If your team is strong, Giavotella all by himself shouldn't be destroying your team, but he certainly isn't helping.

Does this mean that picking up Giavotella was a bad move?

No. I maintain that making an aggressive bid on him was the right decision in A.L.-only for three reasons.

At bats are king
Unless you were in the extremely rare position in early August where all of your counting categories were locked in both directions, your goal at this point is to try and have 14 everyday players in your line-up churning out counting stats. Giavotella looked like he was going to get a clean shot at the job, and that's exactly what he has had. While the results have been disappointing, you did get what you wanted in one sense: an every day player at middle infield.

Who else were you going to get?
In a mixed league, a guy like Giavotella might have been a bad add. But in an A.L.-only? Below is a list of the other hitters who have been FAABed in my home league in A.L.-only since August 1 (waiver claims are omitted due to the rarity of a contender grabbing a waiver wire player):

Adams and Johnson were both FAABed nearly a month after Giavotella. Robinson was FAABed at the same time, but isn't a middle infielder. If you needed a middle infielder and wanted every day at bats it was going to be Giavotella or a black hole on your roster.

Giavotella is better than this
Giavotella was a .322 hitter in 2010 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He hit .338 this year at Triple-A Omaha. The MLE of those batting averages isn't .322 and .338 but it mostly certainly isn't .237 either.

A look at Giavotella's LD% and his BABIP answers some of this. Giavotella has a .280 BABIP and a 22.7% LD%. Five more hits in Giavotella's 98 plate appearances would bump him up from .237 to .290...and this isn't an unrealistic assessment to make based on the LD%. Small sample sizes have made Giavotella look awful, but the numbers still show someone capable of hitting consistently at the Major League level.

Looking at this in a broader context, it obviously stinks that Giavotella hasn't worked out for your fantasy team. I suspect, though, that in almost any possible context you can imagine that picking him up was the right move for your squad, even if the results don't justify it at this exact moment.

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