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.
Posted: March 25, 2013 at 04:31 AM | 7 comment(s)
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