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Monday, March 25, 2013

Sickels: Prospect Retrospective: Vernon Wells

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells announced his pending retirement in February. He’ll play out the string on his contract following today’s trade from the Angels to the Yankees, then go into the sunset after the 2014 season to spend more time with his family. Wells has become the personification of bad contracts and terrible trades, making it too easy to forget how good he was at his peak. Let’s take a look at his career and what he was like as a prospect.

...But it was downhill after that. His plate discipline began to slip. His defense deteriorated. He hit well in 2008 (OPS+123) and 2010 (OPS+125), but was weak in ‘07 and ‘09. The Blue Jays somehow convinced the Angels to take him for 2011, right when the biggest backload of the contract was due to hit. You know the rest of the story.

For all the disappointments of recent years, it is easy to forget that Wells was really quite good at his peak. His career line of .273/.321/.467, OPS+ 106, wRC+ 104 is the result of wild swings between good years and bad ones, but his peak seasons have helped him carry forward a career WAR of 26.7, hardly stunning but also hardly a bad player.

Among career center fielders, this puts him in a career range with very solid guys like Mickey Rivers (27.0), Stan Spence (26.8), Matty Alou (26.6), and Rondell White (26.2), none of them superstars but all guys who were very strong players at their peaks. His Sim Score list brings up guys like George Bell, Ruben Sierra, George Hendrick, and Chet Lemon.

As a prospect, Wells showed superior tools and was a tremendous performer at his best, though he also had some rough patches. . .pretty much just like his major league career. While he is not one of the greats of his generation, Wells was very valuable at his peak. It isn’t his fault that the Blue Jays gave him a giant contract.

Thanks to Kool.

Repoz Posted: March 25, 2013 at 05:31 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. RollingWave Posted: March 25, 2013 at 06:49 AM (#4395638)
yeah but non of those solid player were getting one of the biggest contracts on baseball.

it really boggles the mind, For most of the Yankees long contract, you can at least argue that those players were likely to no doubt HOF players (Mark Teixiera probably being the most borderline.) but Wells? come on.

   2. Greg K Posted: March 25, 2013 at 08:42 AM (#4395660)
I suppose the contract's relevance depends on what you're saying about Wells. If you're recounting how he developed as a player and trying to retrospectively assess him, I can see dismissing the contract as a distorting presence looming over his career.

If you're trying to determine whether you want him on your team, then yeah, the contract can't be avoided.
   3. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 25, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4395663)
a career WAR of 26.7

So, will that number higher or lower after his time with the Yanks?
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 09:04 AM (#4395672)
Higher.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4395675)
I say the same.
   6. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: March 26, 2013 at 01:58 AM (#4396498)
Sources say Ricky Ledee would NOT listen if the Yankees called:

Yankees need outfielder but I am not interested in the position anyway


   7. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 26, 2013 at 02:38 AM (#4396500)
But would he listen if Jay Horvitz's ass called?

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