My next-door neighbors are cutting all the branches off their fucking tree right now, with a fucking chainsaw that’s loud as fuck, and needless to say I am more agitated than I’d prefer to be. So what better time is there to write about Evan Gattis? That’s what I wanna know.
Today the Braves traded Gattis, 28, to the Houston Astros for three prospects — RHP Michael Foltynewicz, 3B Rio Ruiz and some pitcher named Andrew Thurman.
This is a head-scratching trade from Houston’s perspective — shipping away their #3 and #7 prospects (according to Baseball America) along with a hard-throwing lottery ticket — for two reasons:
1) They are still at least one year away from competing in the AL West;
2) More importantly, Evan Gattis isn’t that good at baseball;
That the Braves were able to parlay Gattis into a prospect haul greater than they received for Justin Upton, nearer the level of what they got for Jason Heyward, is a clever move. For what it’s worth, Keith Law ranked Foltynewicz 4th and Rios 9th on his preseason prospect list heading into 2014.
Gattis, meanwhile, will not be a free agent until after the 2018 season. Houston gets four full years of control, but what they paid for was a solid regular, not a platoon player. Which Evan Gattis undeniably is.
In almost 800 plate appearances, he’s produced a triple slash line of .253/.304/.487 (117 wRC+), which isn’t anything to sneeze at in the pitcher-dominant era we’re in. The devil, however, is in the details, and in this case the main detail to hone in on with Gattis are his splits;
In his career, Evan has been a force against left-handed pitching, posting a .295/.328/.548 (138 wRC+) slash line. Against righties, his averages dip significantly (.241/.297/.469); even at that, part of his OBP vs. RHP is aided by being hit by 12 pitches; lifetime he has a 5.5% walk rate compared to a 22.7% strikeout rate. And that’s bad.
That isn’t to say Evan Gattis can’t surprise me, or that he wouldn’t be a fine player if he was utilized in the right role — i.e. a platoon DH/4th outfielder/emergency catcher — but odds are probably greater that he isn’t worth a roster spot two years from now over turning into the player he is currently perceived to be.
Gattis, for whatever reason, is a media darling. Maybe it’s because he talks to the media; maybe it’s because he has a cool backstory; maybe it’s because the mutherfucker hits home runs. I don’t know. But the brother gets a lot of love, for being a plus baseball player, when all the information shows he’s a platoon player who can’t run or play defense. His bat is his only real weapon, and even at that he’s only truly effective against southpaws.
Chris Davis taught me to be particularly cautious of power-hitters with terrible BB/K rates. Sure, they are capable (as Davis was) of a monster season — which is the dream — but when we get down to brass tax, we realize Davis is still pretty much the player his lifetime averages say he is.
Unsurprisingly, give or take about 20 points of OBP, Gattis’s career peripherals are almost identical to Davis’s:
EG: .253/.304/.487, 117 wRC+, 4.1:1 K/BB ratio
CD: .253/.322/.493, 115 wRC+, 3.7:1 K/BB ratio
The idea with guys who strikeout a lot and don’t walk very much, is that, eventually, they stop making enough contact to where their power is actually able to play. Having the ability to slug is a precious skill in 2015, but its application isn’t very worthwhile if the player gets on-base at a .300, or even sub-.300, clip.
People will undoubtedly point to the Crawford Boxes in Houston, and how Gattis was tailor-made for that ballpark, or whatever, but what is going to happen on the days where he isn’t hitting home runs? He won’t add any value on defense and won’t be anything more than a station-to-station baserunner.
If Houston were in the position to make Gattis a platoon player, hoping to add on a couple more wins onto a competing team, the deal would have made sense. Instead, they got a part-time player who not only won’t age well long-term, but maybe not even age that well over the the four remaining years he’s under control with the Astros.
They have a quality farm system as is, and the loss of these three players won’t even be felt, but for what they got in return it just seems unnecessary more than anything else.