Reggie Willits Reality Check

So by now, out of desperation, some of us are talking our way into imagining a low-cost, high-speed, home-grown LF platoon of Reggie Willits and Chris Pettit. Or maybe let Juan Rivera out there for 80 games if for some reason we don't get rid of him, but give Reggie maybe half the starts, enjoy the improved outfield D, bat him leadoff. He has a higher lifetime OBP, after all, than Johnny Damon (it's true!), Juan Pierre, Scott Podsednik, and any number of lousy "solutions" to the LF/leadoff position, assuming we're serious about not having the lifetime .400 OBP guy do the job (which begins to make sense when he's the 4th most powerful guy in our punchless lineup).

Anyway, before you drink that particular flavor of Kool-aid, take a stiff shot of this: Reggie Willits in 2007, vs. Reggie Willits the rest of his Major League career.

136 518 430 74 126 20 1 0 34 27/8 69 83 .293 .391 .344 96 1.8 -0.2 1.6
256 468 392 72 91 14 0 0 23 13/9 55 79 .232 .325 .268 62 -0.5 -0.2 -0.7

That's just...ouch. Wanna know the last player with more than 450 PA to finish the season with a slugging percentage as low as .268? OK, it was Cesar Izturis just last year, at exactly .268. But before that, it was our own Dick Schofield back in 1991. Basically, everyone on this list is either a middle infielder, catcher, or center fielder, for the very understandable reason that you can't start guys with less power than Dan Haren and Darren Oliver at a corner outfield spot.

It's not like Reggie was driving the ball in his good season, either -- his career Isolated Power (slugging-minus-battting average) of .044 is the second-lowest of any current Major Leaguer with more than 625 plate appearances. It's also lower than 11 pitchers. Hell, his career slugging percentage, 2007 season included, is lower than Haren, Carlos Zambrano, and Adam Wainwright. Reggie's one and only offensive skill, besides bunting, is getting himself to first base. And he hasn't been particularly good at that in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

There is a silver lining here: Reggie so far has played a pretty good left field -- RallyMonkey5's WAR has him at +6 runs above average for his career over 1006 innings (a bit less than a full season's worth), compared to a combined -9 at CF and RF. How that would precisely translate into defensive WAR, with its positional adjustments, is a bit foggy to me, but Juan Rivera's +2 performance over about the same LF time in 2009 gave him a 0.0. Basically, if Reggie were to play 80 games in LF at the same rate he's dealt with the position so far, he'd be slightly positive on the defensive ledger of things.

If Willits could only maintain that defense while inching his slash line to a happy medium between his 2007 and the rest of his career -- say, at .262/.358/.306, OPS+ of 79, offensive WAR at 0.7 -- then he ... would still be a not-great baseball player. But he wouldn't hurt you too much, while giving you some backup coverage in CF. There's something to be said for a guy whose strengths correlate with two things the Angels desperately need (leadoff-style plate discipline, and LF defense), though his glaring weakness is one of our main problems, too. And if Reggie really is a .232/.325/.268 hitter, he has very little business being penciled into a Major League lineup.

This FanPost is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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