Randy Winn: A Giants Perspective

New Yankee Randy Winn has been in the majors for 13 years and even spent a good portion of that in the American League East. Still it seems he is a bit of an unknown to Yankee fans. So I interviewed a pair of San Francisco Giant bloggers, Chris Quick of Bay City Ball and El Lefty Malo of LeftyMalo.com, to get better perspective on him.

So without further ado here is the Bay City Ball portion:

Bronx Baseball Daily: The Yankees biggest need lately was for a bat to spell Curtis Granderson against tough lefties, does Randy Winn fit this description despite his .384 OPS against them last year?

Bay City Ball: I think so. Winn’s career numbers as a switch-hitter are pretty even from both sides of the plate. He owns a career .765 OPS when hitting against RHP and a career .758 OPS when hitting against LHP. If you check out his numbers from 2009, he was right at his career averages when hitting against RHP but, like you mention, he tanked against southpaws — producing an .384 OPS. That was by far his worst year against LHP. Because of his career numbers, I would bet on some sort of bounce-back in ’09 against lefties.

BBD: His numbers also show that he had a hard time hitting at home last year. Was there something about that park that he just didn’t like or was it more of a fluke?

BCB: I’ll call it a fluke. Winn has hit just fine at AT&T park in the past. To the surprise of most, AT&T has been a pretty neutral park for hitters the last few years. His 2009 was a weird year. His numbers against lefties just destroyed his overall batting line. He’s not a HR hitter, but getting into the new Yankee Stadium should help him some.

BBD: Can we expect some sort of rebound in 2010?

BCB: I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounce-back some next season. He’s going into a great park to hit and over his career he’s essentially been a league average hitter. His career wOBA of .334 says as much. But, the great thing about Winn is even if he remains a .300-.310 wOBA hitter, his outstanding defense and baserunning will keep him quite valuable. CHONE has Winn projected as a .306 wOBA hitter for 2010. I wouldn’t be that surprised to see him beat the projection.

Just to get a second look, here is the El Lefty Malo portion of the interview:

BBD: His numbers in general were down last year is that due to his age or was there something else going on here, like injuries maybe?

El Lefty Malo: The year after the giants traded for him, Winn fouled a ball off his foot or leg early in the year, and he was never quite right after that. But he never used it as an excuse. So It’s possible something similar happened. His other skills — speed, baserunning, basestealing — didn’t decline, but maybe the hitting decline was due to age-related loss of bat speed.

BBD: What do you know about Winn having watched him play every day that you wouldn’t find just looking at his stats?

ELM: He’s extremely streaky. He’s not a flashy defensive player, but he runs great routes and gets to a ton of balls. He also has a weak arm, which means he probably won’t get a lot of time in CF. He’s also very quiet, he’ll never cause any stir or say anything weird. But he’s got a sly sense of humor if you look for it.

BBD: Is he better suited for left, center, or right field?

ELM: Depends on the field. the Giants put him in RF, which is one of the trickiest to play in the league. But his arm isn’t well suited to the long throw from RF to 3B. I guess the tradeoff was that no one else could play the tricky angles, the constant wind, and the deep alley. He’s a great choice for a 4th OF/late inning glove.

My take on their analysis: Winn seems like he is perfect for the role of 4th outfielder, that is assuming Brett Gardner is the starter. He’ll have a good chance coming into games late as a defensive replacement for Nick Swisher and will also spell all three outfielders on occasion.

Maybe his bat might not be as good as other options, specifically Reed Johnson, but he should have a decent shot at a bounce back season in 2010. It would almost make me feel better if there was some sort of injury last season, but who doesn’t want a player who isn’t going to use that as an excuse.

When you compare him to Johnny Damon he’s always going to come up short. But the Yankees made a decision to go with Gardner in left field and now for good or bad they’re going to have to live with that. Having Winn as a backup should only help Gardner in his development though and provides them with decent insurance in case Gardner can’t handle the spotlight.

Thanks again to Chris and El Lefty Malo for help with this article.

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4 Responses to Randy Winn: A Giants Perspective

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Nice article, Rob.

    I like the Winn signing. Everyone was on the Reed Johnson bandwagon, but the guy is coming off a down year with back problems. Back problems are really tricky and no one can tell you if they are cured or not; they have a tendency to resurface.

    People aren't seeing his defensive and baserunning skills which are excellent. When he is not playing he is going to give Girardi a very good option as a pinch runner. And he will be a great defensive replacement who doesn't hurt you too much as a hitter. In this market you cannot get more than that for $2m.

  2. That's a good point about Johnson's back. I think people are failing to keep in mind that the difference between Reed Johnson and Randy Winn is relatively small. The chance that the Yankees would win even 1 or 2 more games with Johnson over Winn is so small.

  3. ROY says:

    This is a very good and informative article on the topic. Just another quick point that I’d like to see examined a bit is the difficulty if any, of the change in facing AL pitching coming from a NL team. I would expect Winn to have an excellent year because psychologically he is on a contender and a proven championship team. And I think he’s going to love hitting in Yankee Stadium without dealing with some of those mini tornados that can present themselves out in SF. I will be surprised if he’s not a much improved player this year.

  4. I don’t imagine that a veteran like Randy Winn will have that hard a time adjusting from league to league. He played in the AL for a while and these days players jump around so much that it’s not like it was in the past. Umpires also have become more consistent where there isn’t such a big difference anymore.