Hayes Won't Give Marlins Relief

Thursday, May 24, 2012

So apparently there's this groundswell of support on Twitter for replacing John Buck with Brett Hayes in the starting lineup. This is normally something I'd favor (I'm all for pointing out the sunk-cost-fallacy thinking that often governs the Marlins' decisions - cough, Heath Bell, cough), but it just doesn't pass the smell test, so I went to the stats.

On the surface, it is pretty clear why everyone is clamoring for Hayes. He is slashing .295/.326/.386, compared  to Buck's slash line of .173/.306/.327. But once you look past those stats, it starts looking really ugly for Hayes.

First, consider that Hayes is striking out 28.3% of the tie and walking just 4.3% of the time. We could forgive that if he is hitting home runs at a Stantonian pace, but that ain't happening, ever. Buck strikes out a lot too (25.0%), but he can at least draw a walk with regularity (16.1% walk rate). 

Then there's our old war horse, BABIP. This tells you exactly why Hayes is raking and Buck is struggling:

Hayes: .419 BABIP (~.288 previous two seasons)
Buck: .203 BABIP (.283 career BABIP)

In his scant 46 plate appearances in 2012, Hayes has been excessively lucky. Maybe he can keep that BABIP high, but I wouldn't bet on it. Unless there is an injury slowing down Buck, I would expect his BABIP (and overall batting average) to improve as the season moves on. Replacing him with Buck might not be the prudent course of action here. 

Ozzie Guillen said this week "I'm not going to take the job from Buck. Hopefully, Buck will get out of his slump soon." Not that I think he looked at advanced stats to make this decision, but at least I agree with him.


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