There are many rumors swirling about the Braves interest in Julio Lugo. It’s not that I mind Julio Lugo, I just don’t want the Braves to give up much for him. 2005 was a career year for the 29-year-old Lugo, posting a .295/.362/.403 line. This is out of line with his .276/.340/.400 career. It looks like his bumps in AVG and OBP were largely the result of some fluky hits, but maybe he just got better. In The Hardball Times Annual 2006, I present further testing up my PrOPS metric for estimating what players hit based on how they hit the ball. I find that PrOPS does a decent job of finding fluke performances. It turns out that Lugo’s 2005 wasn’t the result of his figuring things out. His PrOPS predicted 2005 line is .274/.342/.370, which is a little more on target with his career numbers. Of course, this says nothing about his defense, which I am not qualified to judge. Just beware of his 2005 hitting numbers.
It’s also interesting to note that one of the potential trade options mentioned is Johnny Estrada. He is coming off a disappointing year when he hit .261/.303/.367, which caused many to think his 2004 (.314/.378/.450) was a fluke. However, PrOPS gives Estrada a .291/.357/.425 line, which is below his actual 2004 numbers but not bad. And it turns out that Johnny’s 2005 wasn’t so bad, with a .286/.327/.398, especially for someone who played injured much of the year. Trading Johnny seems to be a forgone conclusion to many, because Brian McCann seems ready, but I can’t see why the Braves would want to move him. He’s only in his first year of arbitration in which he had a subpar year according to the standard statistics (that is, if you’re not using PrOPS). Even if he ends up serving as McCann’s backup, he’s a cheap and good substitute who can pinch-hit. Plus, McCann is young and catcher is an injury-prone position. He might be the catcher of the future, but with Brayan Pena as the next in line as a backup, the Braves would be wise to hold on to Johnny for one more year. And it would be nice to see the time try to keep a guy spends his free time trying to help kids rather than driving drunk down the connector at 4am.