Fantasy fallout: Edgar Renteria signs with Giants

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Will a move back to the NL spark another resurgence for Edgar Renteria? (Icon/SMI)

It was announced Thursday that the Giants had officially signed shortstop Edgar Renteria. Renteria was a legitimate fantasy option as early as 2007, and was often drafted in the top 12 rounds this past season. Those who took him, though, were largely disappointed:

+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM   | AB  | BA    | HR | RBI | R  | SB |
+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+
| 2008 |  32 | Tigers | 503 | 0.270 | 10 |  55 | 69 |  6 |
+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+

I have a feeling a number of people will point to Renteria’s varying performance level between the American League and the National League and call for a resurgence. Check out these stats:

+------+--------+------+
| YEAR | LEAGUE | wOBA |
+------+--------+------+
| 2002 | NL     | .353 | 
| 2003 | NL     | .384 |
| 2004 | NL     | .314 |
| 2005 | AL     | .321 |
| 2006 | NL     | .354 |
| 2007 | NL     | .382 |
| 2008 | AL     | .308 |
+------+--------+------+

In the past seven years, Renteria has had three down seasons. Two of these occurred during the only years he played in the American League. Is Renteria somehow a different hitter in the National League? Does he know the pitchers better, or the ballparks better? Regardless of whether he does, some fantasy owners will see this trend and be willing to draft Renteria in 2009. Let’s see if this would be well-advised.

Power skills

+------+-----+--------+-----+----+-------+--------+-----------+--------+--------+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM   | AB  | HR | HR/FB | tHR/FB | SF tHR/FB | nHR/FB | OF FB% |
+------+-----+--------+-----+----+-------+--------+-----------+--------+--------+
| 2006 |  30 | Braves | 598 | 14 |    10 |      9 |        11 |      9 |     28 |
| 2007 |  31 | Braves | 494 | 12 |    10 |      9 |         9 |      9 |     29 |
| 2008 |  32 | Tigers | 503 | 10 |     8 |      0 |         1 |      0 |     29 |
+------+-----+--------+-----+----+-------+--------+-----------+--------+--------+

(If you’re new to THT Fantasy Focus and are unfamiliar with True Home Runs (tHR) or any of the other stats I’m using, check out our quick reference guide. These stats provide a much clearer picture of a player’s talent, so it’s well worth taking a couple of minutes to learn them.)

Renteria has never been a big power hitter, and True Home Runs sees a huge drop-off in his future. He managed double-digit tHR figures in both 2006 and 2007, but in 2008 his power fell off completely. In a park with league average dimensions, 70-degree weather, and no wind, he wouldn’t have been able to hit a single ball out of the park. You can’t say that about too many hitters who have Renteria’s name recognition.

If we alter the home ballpark side of the equation to put Renteria in AT&T Park (with average weather conditions for the park), Renteria would have been able to muster up two, maybe three homers, in 2008.

Here are the problems with Renteria:

  1. He hits most long balls to dead center, the deepest part of the park
  2. He doesn’t have much raw power and can’t drive the ball very far
  3. He doesn’t hit many outfield flies to begin with

This makes Renteria look like an awful bet for power next season. I’d wager he’ll be able to hit five homers as a result of the move to the NL and natural regression, but I wouldn’t expect many more than that.

Contact skills

+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+-------------+-----+-------+--------+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM   | AB  | BA    | tBA/SF tBA  | CT% | BABIP | mBABIP |
+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+-------------+-----+-------+--------+
| 2006 |  30 | Braves | 598 | 0.293 | 0.286/0.333 |  85 | 0.325 |  0.319 |
| 2007 |  31 | Braves | 494 | 0.332 | 0.298/0.313 |  84 | 0.375 |  0.336 |
| 2008 |  32 | Tigers | 503 | 0.270 | 0.272/0.300 |  87 | 0.294 |  0.319 |
+------+-----+--------+-----+-------+-------------+-----+-------+--------+

While Renteria’s power has withered away, he does still have good contact skills. He actually posted the third best contact rate of his career in 2008. This still gave him only a .272 True Batting Average—right in line with his .270 actual batting average—but if we translate his line to San Francisco, he would have been expected to hit .300. That’s a huge difference—about 0.012 attributable to the league switch and 0.016 to park effects.

While Renteria wouldn’t be near a .300 hitter in Detroit, it looks as though the move to the NL and AT&T Park will allow him to hit close to there (and that’s with the expected power decline).

Speed skills

+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM    | AB  | SB | SBA | SBO%  | SBA% | SB% | FAN SPEED | FAN BALLOTS |
+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+
| 2004 |  28 | Cards   | 586 | 17 |  28 | 0.243 |   18 |  61 |        71 |          14 |
| 2005 |  29 | Red Sox | 623 |  9 |  13 | 0.263 |    7 |  69 |        63 |         124 |
| 2006 |  30 | Braves  | 598 | 17 |  23 | 0.273 |   12 |  74 |        52 |          18 |
| 2007 |  31 | Braves  | 494 | 11 |  13 | 0.309 |    8 |  85 |        53 |          27 |
| 2008 |  32 | Tigers  | 503 |  6 |   9 | 0.252 |    7 |  67 |        33 |          61 |
+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+

According to Tango’s Fan Scouting Report, Renteria’s speed is in rapid decline. He’s attempted fewer steals over the past two years, and his success rate dipped to the point where he actually cost the Tigers runs by trying to steal in 2008. Luckily for him, Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t seem to care too much about this, as his teams have averaged 155 attempted steals since 1995. Still, if Renteria truly is a “33″ speed, I don’t see him stealing more than a dozen bags in 2009 unless he manages to get to 600 at-bats.

Lineup spot

I could see the Giants batting Renteria second (Jose Castillo and Ray Durham split time there last season). That probably would be the best spot for his fantasy owners. There, he might be able to score 80-85 runs and grab 50 or 60 RBI.

Fallout: indirectly affected

This bodes well for the value of Rafael Furcal. The Giants were supposedly in on Furcal. Joining them would have hurt his value, since he’d have to bat in one of the worst lineups in baseball. Oakland looks like the favorite now, a more preferable landing spot, even if it means switching leagues. The Mets might be a darkhorse; that probably would be the best spot of all for him. The Dodgers might also still be a possibility, which would be perfectly fine.

With Renteria playing short for the Giants, Emmanuel Burriss is left without a starting spot. He’ll compete with Eugenio Velez and Kevin Frandsen at second base. Burriss has great stolen base upside, could post a good batting average, and makes a nice sleeper if it looks like he’ll get the job during spring training. Velez also has great speed upside but probably isn’t a good enough hitter to warrant the starting spot (or to help fantasy owners). Frandsen is “blah”—not much speed, not much power, may or may not be able to hit for a high average.

At this point I’d draft Burriss because if he does win the job he could have nice value. The other two could struggle to keep the job all year and might not provide much value if they did (aside from Velez’s steals).

Concluding thoughts

Overall, Renteria looks like he will be able to help with batting average but not much else. If given a favorable place in the order, he could have positive value in runs, and he might be able to steal a few bags, but he won’t blow you away in either of those categories and doesn’t figure to display much power.

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