When the Mariners traded for oft-injured Nationals 2B Jose Vidro over the winter, it raised a lot of eyebrows. When the M’s announced they’d be using Vidro as a DH, everyone laughed. Everyone, that is, except Seattle fans.
Vidro had always been an above average hitter — compared to other second baseman. But compared to other designated hitters, he fell short. He had no power. None. And his career on base percentage of .365, while good, had been declining in recent years.
In short, Vidro was old, slow and getting older and slower. It looked like an awful acquisition.
So Vidro and the Mariners’ front office should feel pretty good about the today’s story on ESPN.com, which describes the Vidro experiment as an unlikely success:
After a modest first half in which his .286 batting average was supported by a paltry .349 slugging percentage, Vidro has been scorching since the All-Star break. His .387 second-half batting average (55-for-142) is second best in the American League, behind only Chone Figgins (.388). Overall, Vidro is hitting .318 with an on-base percentage of .384.
Vidro says his legs, battered by years on the unforgiving Astroturf of Montreal, feel better than they have in many seasons (he credits diligent work by Seattle’s training staff for his improved health).
But is Vidro’s hot streak for real? And does a good batting average make up for a total lack of power?
The folks over at the blog U.S.S. Mariner aren’t sold on Vidro:
There’s a lot to be wary of. For someone with no speed, he’s getting a lot of infield hits (7.1% right now) and his batting average when he puts the ball in play is a ridiculous .346.
As the blog points out, speedy players often have high IFH%. But Vidro is no speedy player. Quite the opposite. The U.S.S. Mariner has crunched the numbers and they say that over the last few months, Vidro has been very, very lucky. Shallow flies have been dropping. Grounders have found holes. He’s been lucky:
If Vidro got hits at his career rate, and his infield hit rate was a little more reasonable, here’s his line: .286/.351/.355
Not bad. Is it enough to justify $6 million per over two years? Take a look at these other DHs and their 2007 OBP and salary:
David Ortiz .436 / $13 million
Travis Hafner .379 / $4 million
Gary Sheffield .383 / $11 million
Jim Thome .408 / $15.6 million
Frank Thomas .374 / $5.5 million
Sammy Sosa .307 / $500,000
If you just look at OBP, Vidro looks like he’s getting paid fairly. Of course, Papi, Pronk et. al would probably be quick to point out that their slugging numbers are much better than Vidro’s. And they’d be right.
So was Vidro a good acquisition? If he stays hot, yes. But don’t hold your breath.