Why Byrd over Reed?

Jim Hendry went to the free agent market to get his center fielder for 2010. Marlon Byrd was signed this week to a 3-year contract worth $15 million. I took a look at his stats and was astonished by how close his numbers are to that of now former Cub Reed Johnson.

stats comparing Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson

Nearly every category is identical within a percentage point or two. From games played to plate appearances, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, on-base …all statistically even.  The only category where one player decisively wins is in (of all things!) hit by pitch.  Reed has been drilled twice as often as Marlon.

Reed Johnson batting at Wrigley Field

Reed Johnson at bat

Defensively Reed has a lifetime .994 fielding percentage playing center field while Byrd has a lifetime .987 fielding percentage in center with about 3x the number of chances.  However they are closer in overall outfield chances with Reed more experienced playing other OF positions.  Still, Reed is a .991 and Byrd is a career .986. Pretty close again, but perhaps slightly in favor of Reed Johnson.

Looking at their salary history, both guys made $3 million last year. So I wonder why the Cubs opted not to re-sign Reed at perhaps a slight raise (maybe 2 years at $4 million per??). Reed is a proven, known entity in Chicago and a fan favorite. Byrd has put up his numbers in Texas which is a known hitters paradise and few (Mark DeRosa the exception) seem to put up their Texas numbers elsewhere (hellooo Gary Matthews Jr). So there could reasonably be a drop off from even that production for Marlon.

I wonder how much influence or perhaps deference to Rudy Jaramillo went into this decision? I wonder if Rudy was asked who he would like to have and Rudy chose his guy? Will be interesting to see how this works out.  But I bet someone is going to get a better deal on signing Reed Johnson this year than the Cubs did on Marlon Byrd at 3-years, $15 million.

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    January 2, 2010  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: biz of baseball, Hot Stove, Jim Hendry, players, roster, stats

    6 Responses

    1. Tweets that mention Why Byrd over Reed? | Clark-Addison Cubs Fan Blog -- Topsy.com - January 2, 2010

      […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ClarkAddison, randy gerrond. randy gerrond said: RT @ClarkAddison: New post: Why Byrd over Reed? http://tinyurl.com/yjo3ayx Lifetime stats nearly identical! #Cubs #Rangers #MLB […]

    2. Harry Pavlidis - January 3, 2010

      If you just look at the past 3 seasons, which are far more meaningful than career lines, it isn’t even close.

      OPS+ from Baseball-reference:
      Reed: 66/98/89 (which is flat-out awful when you consider he’s a below average center fielder)

      Bryd: 112/121/106 (and he plays average CF)

      Not even close, not even close.

    3. administrator - January 3, 2010

      How much of a bump to those numbers for Bryd to you attribute to playing in Texas? I think the question is who is the real Marlon Byrd – his pre-Rangers numbers are awful. If he can build even a little on his stats from the past 3 seasons, he’ll be fine.

      I liked Jeff Blauser too, before he became a Cub.

    4. Harry Pavlidis - January 3, 2010

      No bump at all. OPS+ is park and league adjusted as presented at B-R

    5. administrator - January 3, 2010

      Fair enough. I’ll hold you to that. ; )

    6. Jade - January 21, 2010

      Reed vs Right handers past 3 seasons OPS .616
      Byrd vs Right handers past 3 seasons OPS .829

      I love Reed – I hope he comes back as a #4OF – he destroys LHanders and he’s a pro. Byrd… maybe he is just a product of Texas – but he’s a year younger and a little better CF
      who knows?

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