Sunday, August 30, 2009

Should Pie start in LF next season?

If you haven't been watching the O's for a while, then you probably haven't noticed how well Felix Pie has been playing lately. In 74 at bats since the all-star break -- yes, a small sample size, but still -- Pie is hitting .324/.378/.568 with four home runs and 13 runs batted in.

And although he'll probably never be an on-base machine because he doesn't walk very much, his walk percentage numbers are still up (8.6 percent), and he's cut down on his strikeouts (23.8 percent).

Let's make one thing clear though: I'm definitely not counting out Nolan Reimold or what he has accomplished this season. However, Reimold may fit in as the designated hitter next season, especially depending on how well Luke Scott can impress the coaching staff at first base. If Scott can play average or above average defense at first, then having Pie in left field (5.7 UZR, 16.6 UZR/150) would be a defensive upgrade over Reimold (-7.5 UZR, -11.3 UZR/150). Again, those numbers are just from this season, but I'd trust them from what I've seen. Pie seems to cover more ground and chase down more flyballs, even if he isn't exactly the most graceful outfielder.

It's also interesting to note that even though Reimold is performing well at the plate in his rookie season -- out of all MLB rookies with 300 plate appearance or more, Reimold is second in home runs (12), t-fourth in average (.274), second in OPS (.823), and third in walks (42) -- Felix Pie, according to FanGraphs, has been worth $4.6 million while Reimold has been worth $4.4 million -- and that's with about 100 fewer plate appearances. Playing solid defense really does help.

Even if Pie continues his strong performance at the plate for the rest of the season, though, it's unlikely that he'd be the unquestioned starter in left field, probably because he doesn't get the chance to hit left-handed pitching very often. Pie is hitting .286/.354/.460 in 161 at bats against righties this season, but in just 20 at bats against lefties, he's hitting .150/.143/.300. It's hard to gauge anything from only 20 at bats, but there's obviously a reason why he doesn't play more when a lefty is on the mound.

Again, depending on Scott's defense, the O's lineup against right-handed pitching in 2010 could very well include Scott, Reimold, and Pie -- and it may make the O's a little bit better.


  1. They had a pretty quick hook with Pie to start the year, so it's been nice to see him get a chance to show what he can do. If the personnel next is more or less the same as what we see right now, then I think Pie in left is the best use of their resources

  2. Agreed. The Huff trade has been worth it just to give Pie a chance to play while also using Reimold as the DH while Scott is playing first. Hopefully Pie keeps hitting.