Is there hope for Renteria?

Edgar Renteria has had a half season that everybody would probably like to forget. The.259 batting average looks great compared to the .301 OBP and .326 slugging percentage. Couple this with the fact that Jair Jurrjens is pitching well and the Tigers are a long shot for the playoffs at this point, and the trade that brought Renteria here looks awful. Given all that, is there any hope left for Renteria? There may be.

One thing going for Renteria is that he has a 22.4% line drive rate. That’s right in line with his career number of 22.8%. The Hardball Times has a measure called PrOPS which is a predicted value for OPS based on batted ball characteristics and other offensive measures. JC Bradbury recently posted the top 3 PrOPS leaders for the first half by position. Renteria actually ranks third among AL shortstops (it’s a really bad year) with a PrOPS of .751. Even if he achieved that number it’s not All Star caliber, but it would qualify as productive.

The difference between Renteria’s actual OPS and PrOPS is the 5th greatest negative difference meaning he’s probably hitting into some bad luck.

So there is hope that Renteria is better in the second half, but what is a reasonable expectation for his final line even if he gets some breaks and manages to maintain his line drive rate? THT put together a spreadsheet that combines Marcel projections with season to date performance to project a final line. Luckily for me, someone else has already run Renteria’s numbers.

His projection for the remainder of the season is 282/342/402 which would be a pretty dramatic improvement. But his horrendous start means that if he achieves that line over the balance of the season, that still leaves him with a .680 OPS when all is said and done.

In addition, despite the career level line drive rate, there are some other red flags (as if we needed more). His walk rate of 6.7% is his lowest since the 6.2% he posted in 2004 and significantly below his 8.2% career rate. The drop in walks is probably in part due to a tendency to chase more pitches. He’s swinging at 27.86% of pitches outside the strike zone. In past years his number has been closer to 20%.

Renteria should be better in the second half. He was pretty awful in the first half. He chased too many pitches, and it was probably compounded by some bad luck. It’s hard to imagine Renteria or the trade looking much worse in the second half. Of course a nice little surge by Edgar and the team that leaves them in the playoffs and everyone feels a little better.

65 thoughts on “Is there hope for Renteria?”

  1. That’s an interesting thought, Chris. I wouldn’t be opposed to shopping him around a bit. On the other side of the coin, my philosophies differ from most of the bloggers here regarding how we utilize Sheffield and Renteria for the rest of the season. I don’t think that age or injury is the issue holding these two back. It was an issue with Sheff earlier, but not now from what I can see and hear from the club. Both of these players have the ability to get hot and both have proven to be explosive offensive players in the past. There is going to be movement towards the norm, and I want them to be in the line-up when that happens. I guess what I’m saying is that I would rather hang the fate of our season on proven veterans getting hot over utilizing Joyce and Santiago every day. I only say that because we need a major upside to make the playoffs and I feel that only Sheff and Rent can provide that magnitude of a second half. Interestingly enough, if I had to bet on which pair (Sheff/Rent vs. Sant./Joyce) has the higher probability of outperforming the other, I would put my money on Santiago and Joyce. I guess I’m looking at this through the eyes of a gambler: Sheff/Rent are tougher odds but provide the biggest payoff. Unfortunately in our situation, only a big payoff will get us to the postseason. Let’s go for broke on this one.

  2. all I know is his errors have to be way down because with no range to either side.(we had heard he goes to his left pretty good but not towards the hole) he doesn’t get to that many balls in either direction. Therefore you have a pretty good but meaningless fielding percentage.

    As far as hitting goes how can you sit Santiago ..all we every hear is he is all field and no hit yet he has hit ,all year, when he has been in the lineup….lets find out what he can do for a half year. That certainly would give the team an answer at SS for the next few years.

    Lastly cut your losses get rid of Renteria so everyone can stop crying about the JJ-Renteria trade.
    …..out of sight out of mind

  3. He was so hot at the start of the season and then his bat seemingly went dead. Santiago admittedly worked extensively on his hitting during the winter and it shows. In my opinion, he’s (Renteria) been a terrible disappointment in light of who we gave up, but he has a history of being very good except for that one year in Boston. We all hope he’ll get better, but if DD can dump him for someone we need, I’d do it now an/or the end of the season for sure.

  4. Hope? Yes. Who doesn’t hope every Tiger does well? It’s not as though we want these whipping boys to stay whipping boys.

  5. I was hoping the same thing as Chris: A trade. Not to be a downer but every time the tigers get close to getting back in the race, they play terrible. I would rather have Santiago and Holliman at short than Rentaria.

    Any guess on the fifth starter on Monday?

    Maybe they will give Lambert a shot.

  6. Edgar Renteria after the break last 4 seasons:

    2007 .851 OPS (.358 2 hr 12 rbi) only 39 games
    2006 .722 OPS (.264 5 HR 35 RBI)
    2005 .729 OPS (.281 2 HR 39 RBI)
    2004 .718 OPS (.292 4 HR 32 RBI)

    If his AL season in 2005 is the guide, well, that’s encouraging.

    Look at his 2001 season with the Cardinals. That seems to be the kind of year he might be headed for. At the break, his numbers:

    .236 5 HR 28 RBI .287/.329/.616

    Look familiar? He did pick it up after the break that year. Not “on fire” picking it up, but still.

  7. Just going from memory, I would say 75% of his line drives are lazy ones to right field. So while he might have the same line drive rate as seasons past, I don’t think they’re quality, hit-potential line drives. They’re easy catches for the right fielder.

    Renteria won’t be raising his average unless he can start pulling the ball every once and a while to keep the defense guessing.

  8. “Renteria actually ranks third among AL shortstops (it’s a really bad year) with a PrOPS of .751”

    I don’t want to say numbers are meaningless or speak for Paul, but to the particular example above I would respond that it doesn’t mean Renteria is any less lousy at the plate than he has been. Reason? That PrOPS hasn’t translated into real, actual, consistent production or done much to help the Tigers win. He could continue to put up “good PrOPS” and still stink, still hurt the team with his presence in the lineup. Could. I also say “probably will” and “hope not.”

  9. “Renteria won’t be raising his average unless he can start pulling the ball every once and a while to keep the defense guessing.”

    I think he tries to pull the ball too much. FWIW, I’ll elaborate later.

  10. Based on a handful of numbers and a handful of Renteria PA “seen” by way of Gameday, here’s what amounts to a guess:

    Renteria is a singles guy who should take lessons from Polly on contact hitting. Pitchers tend to pitch to him like they pitch to a wanna-be pull hitter. So he pounds into a lot of double plays. An extreme amount for a singles guy, I think. He might have been a .300+ career hitter if he could have accepted who he was.

  11. Edgar Renteria maintained a .300 (or very close) average over the period April 16 – May 5. He reached base in 14 of 18 games, 2 GDP in 73 PA (season would predict 2 in 55 PA), walked less (1 in 24) than normal (1 in 15) and put up these numbers:

    .319 3 HR 14 RBI .342/.478/.820

    This is good (really good) Edgar for 18 games. In 64 other games he’s put up an OBP of .288. 19 RBI. 10 GDP in 260 PA.

  12. “I wonder if there is any trade potential for Renteria. Los Angeles is supposedly looking for for a shortstop.”

    I asked Rob Neyer this question on an chat a few weeks ago. The answer was basically…no, the Tigers would get almost no value for Renteria in a trade.

  13. That’s my issue with the “Line Drive Rate” stat, what Brian said. I literally watch almost every game and every AB and I can only recall a few real screamers that Renteria hit that would seem to validate the stat (i.e., my first thought being “that would have been a hit if he had not hit it right at him”). I man, I suppose his leadoff bloop against Minnesota in the dome that Span dug for and made a great play on was a “line drive”? But it really wasn’t.

    “Line Drive”s are the 3 or 4 screamers that Guiilen hit at Beltre in that one Seattle game (I think) that Beltre made every single play on. Not the garbage that Renteria has been managing to get in play.

  14. Renteria is an opposite-field hitter. I doubt he was consistently pulling balls down the line during his best seasons.

    Looking at his spray charts from last season and this season, I don’t see a lot of difference in the distribution of where he’s hitting the ball.

  15. Looking at Renteria’s Hit Location splits for a few recent seasons and his career, it appears that he’s been a great pull hitter. Up till now. Dramatically. Maybe he needs to adjust, and simply hasn’t yet.

    Looking at the Hit Location and Hit Trajectory splits 2005-2008, the only difference that stands out is the similarity for Infield/Outfield between 2005 and 2008. 50%/50% for these years compared to 45%/55% for the others.

    My strategy would for Edgar to get more base hits. This is key going forward, I feel. A more proactive stance on reaching base, creating an advance the runners and RBI synergy.

  16. “Renteria is an opposite-field hitter.”

    I spoke too soon about all that, guessing. There is a marked and interesting difference in those Hit Location splits between 2008 and 3 previous years, though. What it means? I’ll wait for someone else to say, I think.

  17. ‘Renteria is an opposite-field hitter.”

    Tracking things from his best season (2003) forward, Renteria has almost always hit significantly more to the left than the right, and with significantly better results to the left. The exceptions: 2006 (slight difference), and this season (HUGE difference).

    He could pull and now he can’t, maybe? Looks that way. Can’t be all “bad luck” to the left and up the middle now.

  18. A Renteria thread consisting of 21 consecutive Renteria-related posts? That’s crazy. I don’t like where this is headed. And not even one mention of Jair and Gorkys.

    Let’s talk some Brandon Inge, shall we? I submit that his high K rate is mainly due to bad luck on check swing appeals. Discuss.

  19. Chris: Would you replace him with Santiago?

    My favorite What To Do About Edgar options;

    a) Trade him. Give SS to Santiago.
    b) Split starts at SS (not a “platoon,” exactly) with Santiago
    c) Trade him. Give SS to Santiago.

    Simply benching a guy who can only play that one position (and isn’t a catcher) seems the least sensible of all.

  20. I’ve run out of Edgar stuff. Can I talk about Zach Miner?

    I see nothing in his numbers or his game log to encourage me, unfortunately. And I was looking for encouragement. Allows a lot of baserunners, allows baserunners in almost all appearances, bad K/BB, doesn’t throw strikes, allows inherited runners to score. Certainly not much of a bullpen guy. The not throwing strikes part doesn’t encourage me that he’ll be any better as a starter.

    He brought his ERA down from 6.11 to 4.23 with superficially great stats:

    13 G, 2-0 W-L, 1.08 ERA, 4 holds. But:

    4 K, 12 BB, 1.74 WHIP. You could say he threw strikes in one (1) of those games. While he was running up that 6.11 ERA, his WHIP was actually lower (1.50).

    I don’t know. Bonine, Miner, whoever. Seems like a wash.

  21. I’d DEFINITELY hand over SS to Santiago, from a strictly baseball perspective. I think he’d be more productive (it’s hard to be less productive than ER) and would be a defensive upgrade. Of course, the problem is that Renteria makes $10 million vs. Santiago making $575K and management has not yet learned the term “sunk cost”. This also accounts for the Gary Sheffield Problem. As for Miner, what he’s got going for him is a big league track record of some success, where as Bonine has a big league track record of getting lit up like a Roman Candle. I’d rather see Lambert get a shot.

  22. As mentioned on the Tigers MLB website, Pudge has come on strong lately. His last 20 games:

    .387/.432/.547 for a .979 OPS. Hitting safely in 17 of 20 games. No GDP.

    So why does it seem a bit empty, aside from the 8 RBI, 5 XBH (out of 29 H), and 8 R?

    Glass half empty, I guess.

  23. is the feeling that Ramon Santiago would continue to produce at the same rate that he does now with more AB? or that playing Ramon isn’t any worse than playing Edgar on the current schedule?

  24. Good post, Billfer. I somehow had the feeling a Renteria thread was imminent.

    I’m not surprised by the line-drive percentage. One thing’s for sure, during that horrific 0-23 slump, and even before that span, Renteria was robbed of multiple hits. Unfortuantely, that just annoyed me more; he’d hit the ball hard and away, only to result someone on the Minnesota Twins roster to show up on an ESPN highlight. Not just one or two times — multiple times.

    And that’s as close as I’m going to come to apologize for Edgar Renteria.

    I will sum this up very succinctly. Edgar Renteria sucks..

    Chris, that was very concise and to the point, elequent and convincing, but it still doesn’t top your previous post.

  25. Santiago vs. Renteria:

    My feeling is that Santiago, while possibly surprising us in a good way, will probably just make positive contributions more often and greater in sum than Renteria will, even if his BA slips to where Renteria is now or below. Also, Santiago appears ready to go even after the injury, not fighting to come out of a slump or carrying the baggage of a disappointing season.

  26. Another thing on Santiago vs. Renteria. One guy has 196 AB since 2006, and the other is a decent (long) career hitter who has just fallen off a cliff. In such a crap shoot (have fun with that one, Chris – fit’s here, don’t it?), I guess I go with the guy who’s produced lately until he falls off a cliff.

  27. Got to go along with the meaningless. Line drives that are caught are not almost hits. Defensively, a clean uniform in the 9th inning for a shortstop has a lot of meaning.

  28. I think all stats are meaningless. Probably looking at a 1 hour video of a guy’s career hi -lites and lo-lites by a trained eye tells more about a guy’s ability to help a club in the long run.

  29. Got to go along with the meaningless. Line drives that are caught are not almost hits.

    That’s definately true, ron, but what it might mean, if we could ever get Orlando Cabrera to take the vodoo hex off Renteria and remove the pin from the hamstring of the Renteria doll in his locker, that maybe some of those line drives might fall the right way.

  30. “I think all stats are meaningless.”

    They’re condensed, freeze-dried reality. Very convenient. Who has time to follow an entire career? I wish the games went by as fast as I can read a play by play. I really can’t stand all that suspense.

  31. There really should be stats for almost hits and robbed hits. Also cheap hits. AH, RH, CH. That would settle a lot of the lucky/unlucky debates before they begin.

  32. I’ll remove my Hate Glasses and write something nice. Renteria was great in the ’97 World Series.

  33. “I’ll remove my Hate Glasses and write something nice. Renteria was great in the ‘97 World Series…”

    …and Jim Leyland’s been his bitch ever since

  34. “I think all stats are meaningless. Probably looking at a 1 hour video of a guy’s career hi -lites and lo-lites by a trained eye tells more about a guy’s ability to help a club in the long run.”

    Ron, who decides which plays go on the video?

    Who has time to watch hundreds of videos every he wants to know how well a particular player is doing compared to other major league players.

    How do we know the anonymous person on the internet we are talking to has a trained eye?

    Scouting is important but statistics are a lot more convenient and they sometimes give you a clearer picture than the one you get using observation.

  35. “I have a feeling that AH + RH + CH = BA somehow or other.”

    An astute and possibly true observation. But whence all the talk of LD% (hitting) and BABIP (pitching) in the context of luck, then?

    I feel I deserve credit for the use of “whence” here. Pretty inspired.

  36. Sean: I think BABiP is probably a little better indicator of luck, both for pitchers and hitters. That takes into account all batted balls, cheapies and ropes. The fact that ER is hitting a similar amount of line drives to his career norms would seem to indicate that he’s due for a rebound, but that’s not entirely set in stone. It would be helpful to see what % of the line drives that he’s hit actually resulted in a hit vs. an out, though. I don’t feel like looking that up right at the moment.

  37. Oh yeah I almost forgot. You get dap for using “whence”. Now I should get dap for using “dap”.

  38. Chris

    Renteria and line drives:

    CAREER .725 BABIP / 1.661 OPS
    2008 .583 BABIP / 1.311 OPS

    My point was that BABIP leaves you guessing just like LD% does. If this is not so, do tell why not.

    You get “bupkus” for using “dap,” because I don’t know what it means. I refuse to Google dap.

  39. Chris: Thanks. Now I’m down with the jive talk. Word up. Or something.

    I’m hoping you were giving me definition #7 and not definition #6. It’s probably a good sign that you gave yourself dap, too. I think.

  40. Chris : Ever seen the Seinfeld bit about the chalk outline guy? “Therefore the killer must be… Jim.”

    I’m willing to use the same reasoning with Edgar. .583 BABIP on line drives. Therefore, the big pile of suck must be… Edgar.

  41. LOL Chalk outline guy. That was a funny little bit. I also like the one about the pilot losing his keys to the plane. But I digress.

  42. Oh yeah, it was definitely not #6. Definitely. Yikes. That’s not quite as vulgar as DVDA, but close.

  43. I think we’re safe as long as we avoid capitalizing dap. Practicing safe dap, as it were.

    And speaking of dap, I look for forward to giving Magglio plenty of dap. Praise be, he’s back, and I think he’s gonna be raking in no time.

  44. Strangely enough, I don’t think one of the key reasons for the Renteria sucks sentiment is the RISP issue. I won’t rehash the numbers again, since we know all the problems of various hitters in that respect. But if you look at how often different guys come up with runners in scoring position, you see right near the top of the heap…Renteria.

    For whatever reason, he has gotten more opportunities than should be expected to knock in runs (perhaps to balance his “bad luck” with his line drives?); I think the fact that with guys in scoring position the next guy due up is Edgar more than you would expect is why people are so frustrated with him.

    I guess you could call this stat Opportunity Ratio or something; Edgar’s is high, his performance not great (he actually does OK in my numbers for RBI/AB w/RISP, but it looks a lot different when you look at the number of times he has RBI vs the number of RBI–since 8 of his 28 RBI were on his 2 grand slams).

    Magglio 300 92 30.7%
    Renteria 307 91 29.6%
    Carlos 324 94 29.0%
    Cabrera 348 92 26.4%
    Pudge 271 71 26.2%
    Sheffield 198 49 24.7%
    Polanco 334 82 24.6%
    Joyce 94 23 24.5%
    Marcus 185 44 23.8%
    Inge 150 29 19.3%
    Grandy 277 51 18.4%
    Clete 116 21 18.1%

  45. Prediction: strangely enough, Leyland will look back at some point and explain his trust in Renteria thus: “he blinded me with science.”

  46. The L Ron Hubbard thing is Scientology.

    Scientism has several definitions, but the one I was thinking of (with a gentle jab at our use of statistics today) is best described (according to Wikipedia) as a form of dogma: “In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.”

  47. Actually I was hoping for some insight on the midseason Opportunity Ratios from some of the “it’s the batting order, stupid” guys that held sway for a while–in other words, are Renteria’s problems magnified by batting in the wrong part of the lineup?

    I don’t remember who they were, but I imagine they’ve shrugged their shoulders and given up on understanding the mind of Leyland; that, or, faces painted Joker-like, they have no time to spare from dancing in leotards ’round the ruins of Tiger Stadium, chanting sonnets to the full moon.

  48. Stats are only important for individual achievements such as A rod whose guarantees no World Series for any team he plays with. It’s a team game. Derek Jeter could be having his best season playing ss for the Tigers and they still could be playing .500 ball.

  49. I don’t want to say numbers are meaningless or speak for Paul, but to the particular example above I would respond that it doesn’t mean Renteria is any less lousy at the plate than he has been. Reason? That PrOPS hasn’t translated into real, actual, consistent production or done much to help the Tigers win. He could continue to put up “good PrOPS” and still stink, still hurt the team with his presence in the lineup. Could. I also say “probably will” and “hope not.”

    I’m not arguing that Renteria has been good. His production has hurt the team. The point is that the way he’s hit the ball hasn’t changed fundamentally as in past seasons. It’s reason for hope in the second half.

    You’re right in that he could continue to put up decent line drive rates and still not see it translated into production. Or he could stop hitting line drives and his PrOPS could catch up to his actual OPS. He is pretty damn slow so he might not be able to beat out hits or take extra bases like he used to which is something that won’t correct itself. But the fact that he hasn’t become an infield pop-out machine and he can still hit the ball on the nose leaves me encouraged going forward.

  50. Billfer

    Understood. I enjoyed your timely analysis on Renteria, and my comment was not a critique of any part of it. Rather, I took an example from it to express my view (in response to another exchange) that statistics are not meaningless, but some are more meaningful than others.

    As for Edgar, in numbers I can see both the hope and the despair. I don’t have a “good feeling” about Renteria, so my comments are often negative, but I’m more balanced when it comes to reasoned analysis, as a number of my posts above show.

  51. Don’t look now, but Renteria is hitting .667 since the All Star Break. We’ll continue to monitor this trend as it develops.

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