Hating Adam

I’m curious why Adam LaRoche is so hated by Braves fans. And look, I have a realistic view of Adam.

— He is NOT a good defensive player. Those touting him for future gold gloves are either deluded or flat lying. Yeah, he’s not Giambi, but, he’s not good by any defensive metric out there. And my own perceptions of his play confirm what the stats show.

— He is slow, very slow. Because he is a lefty, he will never be able to play any position other than first.

— He doesn’t have the team-leader “intangibles.” By all accounts he is quiet, and his nickname “three-second delay” indicates he’s not the guy teammates rally around.

— He is NOT the type of first baseman you build around. The Braves should have moved Chipper to first and held on to Andy Marte.

Given all of this, Adam LaRoche is a quality MLB ballplayer who will have a decent career. And it’s possible that he will gain some more power that might make him even more valuable. I suspect he will play for a lot of teams in a first base platoon and pinch hit. The Braves have very few options at first now that Marte is gone, so I don’t see what the deal is. In fact, I’m quite happy the Braves still have him around.

A player like LaRoche is hard to rally around. His swing is ugly, and he’s generally an unexciting player. His .220 batting average this year and 33 strikeouts are easy targets for criticism. But his 18 walks and .250 Isolated Power are beautiful. He has an OBP of .336 and a SLG of .471 for a healthy OPS of .807.

Compare this with Jeff Francoeur, whom everyone is cheering for and says, “but if you take out his slow start he’s hitting nearly hitting a lot better.” Blah, blah, blah. Really? If you take out the bad stuff, of course you’re going to look pretty good. Jeff has been stinking up the joint in a way that was totally expected from his minor league stats, and he’s not as good a hitter as LaRoche. Adam has produced 81 outs for the Braves this year compared to 105 by Francoeur—to lead the team. That’s 24 more more outs, nearly an entire game’s worth. My point isn’t to disparage Francoeur, but to point out that Adam is facing a different standard. He’s been a lot more valuable than Francoeur this year, but getting much harsher criticism.

5 Responses “Hating Adam”

  1. Chuck Oliveos says:

    According to the latest updated stats on SI’s site, LaRoche has an OPS of .837. Among all players who have played 1B and have had at least 50 AB’s, LaRoche ranks thirteenth. That makes him a middling offensive first baseman. Given that, along with his defensive deficiencies, I have to say that he is a mediocrity. If the Braves had a strong offensive team, they could carry such a first baseman, but they aren’t, and they should be looking to upgrade. Of course, they should be looking to upgrade elsewhere as well. However, I suspect that, with the impending sale, Time Warner has forbidden Schuerholz to make any deals.

  2. John W says:

    I saw this earlier, but I thought I’d wait through tonight’s game so I could post his up-to-date WPA. He’s second on the team offensively at +.513, or about 1.03 wins over .500. Overall, he’s fifth, with only Thomson, both Joneses, and Betemit ahead of him.

    You’d never know that by reading the comments over at Braves Journal or by looking casually through the normal stats. Nothing against the Braves Journal posters of course, but it’s nice to get a dose of reality.

  3. Frank says:

    After seeing the Nick Johnson play in today’s game, I’d make that very, very, very slow. 🙂

  4. gondeee says:

    I am totally refuting your notion that LaRoche has been “a lot more valuable” than Francoeur over at my blog, Talking Chop.

  5. Johnny says:

    Well. So upon closer inspection it turns out that LaRoche is having a servicible year. I haven’t been participating in the vitriol over at Braves Journal but I’ve been thinking it. He just looks so overmatched at times that you have to wonder if he can play at this level. Apparently he can but it sure ain’t pretty.

    Meanwhile, JC, you are correct. Francouer gets a mulligan from the press and the bloggers. But lets face it a .260 OBP just ain’t gonna cut it. Over at MLB.com, Chipper says that it doesn’t matter if he walks or not. Uhhhh so I guess that Chipper is expecting him to hit .330, which would make him at least as valuable as LaRoche? Geez.