Yesterday I took a look at Mike Napoli vs Vernon Wells as hitters. And while this isn't becoming an Angels blog, it does seem like I have an awful lot to write about them lately. I think the guys over at the Orange County Register are egging me on though. Dan Woike recently wondered "Was Angels' Juan Rivera That Bad?" I'm not sure what his answer was because I'm allergic to slideshows but it did get me thinking.
How much better is Wells compared to Rivera? It's a little easier to compare the two since they're both 32-year-old outfielders. And Wells has a clear advantage in Wins Above Replacement because Rivera has the mobility of a wounded pylon (except for his outlying 2009 season). Click image to embiggen.
In terms of overall value, Wells is clearly the superior player even with him, hopefully, moving to left field. But in pure hitting terms, you might as well flip a coin. Yes, I am still using wOBA and, as always, click to enlarge.
These aren't especially comforting graphs for Angels fans. Now, I'm not saying Rivera is close to the player that Wells is because he isn't. I'd much rather have Wells than Rivera in a vacuum but we can't ignore the Wells contract.
Could the Angels have suffered through a Bobby Abreu/Juan Rivera left field and found better production from a Manny Ramirez or Johnny Damon designated hitter? If we turn a blind eye to defense for this experiment, I think the answer is yes. Plus that assortment of players could have just been a place holder until Mike Trout arrives.
Of course, this has just become a "could have, should have" exercise for me at this point. Actual results may vary.