Toronto Baseball Guys
Thursday, April 22, 2010
  Overbay Killing the Jays
.287

It's a fine batting average. You can make the Hall of Fame hitting .287, as Eddie Murray did, providing you do enough other things well.

It's a pretty lousy On-Base Percentage, though you might be able to live with it from a gold-glove shortstop or catcher... in 1908.

As a slugging percentage, it indicates a player with slightly less power than the Amish, and the only way THEY get to play is if they're a threat to throw a no-hitter every five days.

Through the first dozen games of the season, Lyle Overbay's On-base PLUS Slugging stood at .287. Now, it's not fair to throw a guy under the bus for a slump this early, but as a point of comparison, Roy Halladay's OPS is .545.

This isn't just a slump - this is an automatic out smack in the middle of a Jays lineup that no one is about to mistake for Murderer's Row. It's not as if Overbay is just missing, or pounding a lot of "'at em" balls into the gloves of well-positioned defenders: he's rolling over weak grounders and striking out like Carmen Electra in a San Francisco bathhouse.

At 33, Overbay is a poor man's John Olerud, providing, doubles, good defence, walks and medium range power at first base. He's in his contract year, and won't be back with the rebuilding Jays.

Ideally, this should be a symbiotic year for Overbay and the Jays. A strong first half, and Overbay can take a big step towards his next contract, while making himself attractive to playoff contenders. The Jays can then flip him for a prospect or two. Everybody wins.

So far, the only winners are opposition pitchers - and if this trend continues, Randy Ruiz should get the bulk of Overbay's at bats - either at first base, or as the DH, with Adam Lind taking over at first. Yes, Overbay's defense is vastly superior to either, but he'd have to be retiring batters who are on deck to justify his bat.

While it's too early to pronouce that Overbay is done, a lot players do stop hitting in their early 30's (see Wilkerson, Brad. Also Murphy, Dale). It's reasonable to stick with him a while longer, but Cito Gaston absolutely has to drop Overbay from the fifth spot in the batting order and get him away from the two hitters in the lineup, Wells and Lind, who are carrying the team and would benefit from being driven in now and again.

Oh, and could the proponents of the theory of "protection" please explain how Vernon Wells is hitting like the second coming of Joe DiMaggio while batting in front of Overbay? Shouldn't that be impossible?

Following Wednesday's extra-inning loss to Kansas City, Overbays's OPS now stands at .412. Unless he can double that, and relatively soon, the Jays will need a replacement.
 
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