Scutaro’s 2009 Season Not An Outlier?

Marco Scutaro

Almost a month ago TSN’s Daan De Kerpel penned an article on why the Jays shouldn’t re-sign Marco Scutaro.  The crux of the argument is that Scutaro is coming off a career-year (or ‘outlier’ season being the new buzzword thanks to Malcolm Gladwell) and the Jays shouldn’t resign him because he can’t expect to maintain that level of production.  De Kerpel brings up examples of similar players who signed contracts after outlier seasons and weren’t able to live up to the expectations and the teams who were burned because of it.

Outliers

In the article De Kerpel states:

Scutaro posted career highs in all major offensive categories: runs, hits, home runs, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.  As great as that production was, his past as a hitter should not be ignored when it comes to talking about the 2010 season and beyond.

Scutaro has also never had as many at bats in a season.  Regardless, and unfortunately, De Kerpel doesn’t elaborate on Scutaro’s past as a hitter.  Glossing over Scutaro’s past numbers as a hitter one would reasonably come to the conclusion that 2009 was in fact an outlier and that Marco has never shown the capability to put up the kind of numbers he has been able to this past season.

scutstats1

Thankfully ESPN’s Rob Neyer gave Scutaro’s numbers the attention they deserve today.  From his blog, Neyer had this to say:

At 21, he reached Triple-A. At 22, he tore up Double-A. At 23, he posted a .362 on-base percentage in Triple-A. But Scutaro played for the Indians, and the Indians had Omar Vizquel at shortstop and Roberto Alomar at second base. So there wasn’t anywhere for Scutaro to play.

Then the Brewers picked up Scutaro, but they had Jose Hernandez at shortstop and Ron Belliard at second base. Next it was the Mets, who did give Scutaro his first major-league action but didn’t let him play enough to prove that he could actually play. That didn’t happen until Scutaro joined the A’s, who (of course) were impressed by his minor-league on-base percentages.

And then of course Scutaro didn’t play well at all. In his first real major-league season (2004), he got on base just 29.7 percent of the time. To Billy Beane’s credit, he gave Scutaro another shot … and again Scutaro got on base roughly 30 percent of the time. It wasn’t until Scutaro’s third season with the A’s — and again, credit to Beane for persistence — that he did essentially what he’d done in the minors.

Yes, 2009 was Scutaro’s career season. And yes, it’s surprising that it happened when he was 33. But hitting-wise, Scutaro’s 2009 was not wildly out of character with the rest of his professional career.

It is rare for a hitter to learn and develop a keen eye at the plate – that is, to develop the skill to take pitches out of the zone, become less of a free swinger and do the little things it takes to get on base if they haven’t already displayed the ability at a younger age.  Examples would include Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Francoeur, Garett Anderson and Bengie Molina.  When it comes to OBP, it took Scutaro time to adjust to the new league, new pitchers and the new talent level.  But like they always say in baseball, players regress to the mean.  In Scutaro’s case he progressed to his mean.

Marco Scutaro



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has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • Ian

    First of all, I love the first line of this post.

    I am intrigued at the possibility of having Montero in the Blue Jays system, but is it too early to give up on J.P. Arencebia already? I guess if J.P. develops into the monster catcher that he’s supposed to be, the Jays could trade him away. What are your thoughts Callum?

  • Like I said in this post: “It is rare for a hitter to learn and develop a keen eye at the plate – that is, to develop the skill to take pitches out of the zone, become less of a free swinger and do the little things it takes to get on base if they haven’t already displayed the ability at a younger age.”

    Arencibia has not shown the ability to get on base at a reasonable clip at the AA or AAA levels. It is not too early to give up on him, but I am not holding out much hope. He did have some sort of a kidney ailment so that might have affected him. Regardless, I would like to see if he can build on his first full season at AAA despite the very ugly K:BB ratio. Even the hyped up “monster catcher” that Arencibia is played up to be is not as good as Jesus Montero, straight up.

  • For a 25 or 26 year old it might be useful to look back on minor league numbers and see what players could be capable of, but we’re talking about a 33 year old who had over 2100 at bats in the major leagues coming in to this season. Scutaro posted career highs in every rate stat, yet still didn’t manage to post an .800 OPS and this was his only year as an above average offensive player. If a team signs Scutaro thinking he’ll be able to repeat his 2009 season they’ll be very disappointed.