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Ty Wigginton vs Clint Barmes - The Tradeoff

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Can this man's bat make us forget the gloves of yesteryear?
Can this man's bat make us forget the gloves of yesteryear?

In a Sunday article from Jim Armstrong, the contributions of Ty Wigginton are brought into question a bit. The article is a pretty honest look at Wigginton's "versatility" and basically makes the comparison to Clint Barmes: the Rockies are willing to trade defense for offense this season as far as Wigginton goes. His positional versatility basically means that he's going to be facing the right direction when he plays an unfamiliar position.

It should be noted that Wigginton recognizes the amount of work he has ahead of him. He plans on attempting to keep it simple, just do his best to get to the balls he can and not overcomplicate things. Armstrong responds to the challenge from the constant positional jumping: "Please. It's what he does."

On the upside, when playing 3B, he'll have Troy Tulowitzki to pick up some slack (which will probably give Tulo some flashbacks to 2007) and in RF, Dexter Fowler might have to man a bit more of that gap than he'd originally hoped. Shouldn't be anything new though, given the time he roamed CF with Brad Hawpe in RF.

Maybe.

The tradeoff does appear to be real - at least initially.

Wigginton, since 2008, has batted a cumulative .266/.323/.442,  good for a .765 OPS and a 102 OPS+. That timeframe was good for 6.4 runs above average. Barmes, on the other hand, batted a similar .256/.305/.423 (.728 OPS) line, but when you make those park adjustments, it rounds out to a 82 OPS+ (-16 wRAA).  That's over a 2-win swing, offensively speaking.

During that same period, Wigginton was worth -16.5 runs (per UZR) while Barmes was worth 14.4 UZR. That's nearly a 3 win jump itself.

Cumulatively, Wigginton was a -10.1 run player from 2008-2010, and Barmes was a -1.6 run player. If UZR isn't overvaluing defense, the tradeoff from Barmes' glove to Wigginton's bat doesn't really seem to be worth it, if the Barmes-to-Wigginton comparison is all we're going to look at.

My best guess is that some of the SABR valuation might be somewhat countered for by late inning PH - he's been a pretty solid PH over the past 3 years, when he's been in that spot. It doesn't line up with run/win valuation, but getting that clutch hit or whatever in the 8th could bring the extra value to Wiggy that Barmes didn't provide much of. Then again, I have to wonder what the value of a pinch hitter is when compared to a late-inning defensive substitution.

The hope for Rockies fans is that the relief from Barmes-strikeout/popup frustrations will outweigh the frustration with Wigginton's lead glove.