Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Zen Master and the Hunter Pence Trades: The 2017 Player Preview for Tommy Joseph

Let's talk about the Hunter Pence trades. A little more than two years ago, Phillies fans continued to lament the move that brought Pence to the Phillies. They saw burgeoning stars in Houston, where Jon Singleton had already signed a $10-million deal, Jarred Cosart was in the process of winning 13 games, Domingo Santana was tearing up the minors and Josh Zeid was pitching in the big leagues.

It was one of the big knocks on Ruben Amaro's win-now managerial style. He'd given up the farm for a guy who, after a season and a half, was already out of town and winning a handful of rings in San Francisco. He seemed to have been shipped off for parts. Tommy Joseph looked like he'd never reach the Big Leagues. Nate Schierholtz had been cut loose only to have a good season in Chicago. Seth Rosin pitched himself out of Philly.

Fans were probably right to be concerned that the deal would be monumental flops At this point, let's remember Gust Avrakatos' favorite story in "Charlie Wilson's War."
This is the eighth in a series of previews for the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. Our most recent one took a look at Cameron Rupp. This post takes a Zen Master approach to Tommy Joseph.

Now, let's look at where all those players stand.

Traded to Milwaukee, Santana spent 2016 as a negative WAR player. He's still just 24.

Traded to Miami then San Diego, Cosart has dealt with injuries and disciplinary issues, along with ineffectiveness. In the past two seasons, he's gone 2-9 with a 5.19 ERA. He'll be 27 this year.

Waived by the Astros after the deal, Josh Zeid spent two years scuffling in Anaheim's bullpen. He hasn't been in the big leagues since 2014.

After the trade, Singleton was considered the Astros' best prospect. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues and they signed him to a $10 million deal. He was suspended for violating MLB's drug policy twice. He batted .202/.337/.390 in AAA in 2016. He's batting .211 with two home runs in Spring Training.

For those prospects, the Phillies got a guy who played 155 games, hitting .289/.357/486 with 28 homers. That's basically one All-Star season.

Two of the three players they got are gone. Schierholtz hasn't been in the Majors since 2014. Rosen since 2015.

That brings us to Tommy Joseph. You know the story. The Phillies gave up on him last year. When no one else signed him, they resigned him to play Triple-A. All he did was mash. The 24-year-old earned an early-season call to the big leagues and ended up playing 107 games, popping 21 home runs, hammering out an .813 OPS and earning a starting job this year. Thanks to a low on-base percentage, his war was just .5.

So of all the players involved in the two Hunter Pence trades, only two had positive WARS in the big leagues in 2016: Pence with 1.9, Joseph with .5.

On the plus side, Joseph had a .339 on-base percentage from June 24 on, so there's a decent chance he could put up a .315-.340 on-base percentage in 2017. If he keeps popping home runs at the rate he did in 2016, teams will have no choice but to walk him at times.

Joseph, who will be 25 this year, is projected to hit around 28 homers with a .775-800 OPS according to many projections.

So, how did those Hunter Pence trades work out? We'll see.