Every time I think about the 2012 Oakland Athletics, I get a little depressed from realizing that baseball is still a few months away. That team depicted the term “Moneyball” to a tee: they won due to a young, talented pitching staff and their lineup was built from castoffs and youngsters. While Josh Reddick might not necessarily be a castoff, he was traded to Oakland from the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Bailey. At the time, many thought Billy Beane got hosed on the deal, figuring that Reddick was nothing more than a fourth outfielder. However, Reddick went out and produced in a big way for Oakland in 2012, making him one of the team’s most valuable players. But exactly how good is Josh Reddick?
Reddick’s value is mostly due to his fantastic fielding abilities, which is why I have to question his fWAR. Was Reddick really better than Josh Hamilton last season? Really? I really wish fielding – at least UZR – was eliminated from the WAR formula. Thanks to his 18.5 UZR, Reddick’s fWAR was 4.8, which is 0.4 better than Hamilton’s 4.4 fWAR. I’m sorry, but I have a hard time wrapping my head behind that.
Reddick is a solid player – - no doubt about it. He definitely is worthy of being a starting rightfielder, but there is no way he is worth nearly five wins. A player who has a .242/.305/.463 slash line is not worth five wins, unless he is literally covering the entire outfield.
If you are a SABR nerd like I am, I highly recommend punting UZR or any other defensive metric from the equation until something accurate emerges. And if you don’t follow sabermetrics at all, then you probably think Reddick stinks.
Similar to the infamous Trout/Cabrera debates, though, the answer (as always) is somewhere in the middle.