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Vernon Wells: back to reality

Jun 2, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

New York Yankees' Wells hits two-run home run against Kansas City Royals in their MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City Reuters

Part of the reason the Yankees were so good in April and much of May was because they were getting great performances from unexpected players. Like Vernon Wells, who was smacking the ball around to the tune of .300/.366/.544 in the season’s first month but came crashing back to Earth to hit .221/.250/.365 in May.  Last night he went 0-for-4 in a horrendous loss to the Sox and that season-long OBP is now at an even .300.

Wells told the New York Post what it’s all about:

“I just have to ride it out,” Wells said, who went 0-for-4. “I know I can get back to where I was that first month or so, I just have to get back to it.”

If I’m the Yankees I want Wells to think that he can get back to where he was the first month. Indeed, I don’t want my players ever looking back over their career numbers to assess whether or not such things are likely or possible. I want them to do their job and feel like they’re capable of an All-Star performance every day out.

But we’re not Wells or the Yankees. And we all can look back and see that April was an anomaly. And that while he’s had some good seasons here or there, the new normal for Wells is a lot closer to what he’s hitting now than what he was hitting a month ago. Indeed, the best indicator of what a player is ever going to do is what he’s done a lot of recently.

It’s great for the Yankees that they got a great month out of the guy, but now it’s back to reality for Vernon Wells.

  1. doctorfootball - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Vernon Wells cooled off as everyone, including the Yankees, expected. They hoped to catch lightning in a bottle for a month or two and they did. I’m sure Cashman and co. weren’t expecting Wells to be a dominant force in their lineup for the entire season.

    • protius - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:40 AM

      Beg the question much?

  2. rollinghighwayblues - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    I don’t watch the Yankees that often but last night Wells’ defense looked so timid and embarrassingly slow. I know he’s old but has his defense always been this way or is it his age showing?

  3. paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Also back down to earth in May after a hot April (and, yes, this is 100% trolling):

    Michael Young: .172/.280/.287 (good for a WAR of -0.3)

    Yuniesky Betancourt: .190/.229/.260 (WAR -0.6)

    J. P. Arencibia: .208/.232/.375 (WAR -0.2)

    • proudlycanadian - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      One month is still a small sample size.

      • paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Yes, but in each of those cases, the May of those players looks a lot more like their career or recent performances than their April’s did. In other words, it was quite clear that the April performances were outliers. Thus the “back to earth” thing.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        Perhaps age also has something to do with Wells and Young and I did not know that you were an earth sign.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      I thought you didn’t troll people.

      • paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        This is more of a neener neener post (did people seriously think any of these guys suddenly became better because of a hot start?)…is that trolling? It seems like people have expanded the definition to anything that might result in disagreement.

  4. yankeesgameday - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Everyone did exactly what Cashman expected: Wells performed very respectably for the month or so that Granderson was out after Spring Training and when Grandy came back to the team last week Wells was supposed to hit the bench to be a pinch hitter or mop up time substitute.

    It was planned and executed to perfection. Only problem was that Granderson was not supposed to get hurt again after just a few games back. No one ever planned for Wells to still be playing every day come June 1.

    • Jack Marshall - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Right—Cashman expected Wells to play out of his mind just when the Yankees needed him to. He was lucky, that’s all. He gets proper credit for picking the right lottery number, but if you think Cashman expected what he got from Wells in April, then you think Cashman is an idiot.

      • djpostl - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Lucky lottery number or not he has quite the track record on them. Wells, Hafner & Overbay this year, Ibanez last year, Eric Chavez the year before, Ichiro at the break last year, Kerry Wood at the break a few years back.

        Cashman seems to get “lucky” a lot I guess.

  5. mazblast - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    “Indeed, the best indicator of what a player is ever going to do is what he’s done a lot of recently.”

    Regression to the mean. He’s not likely to have an overall season similar to those of the last few years, but his performance GOING FORWARD is likely to be like those.

    Congratulations, Yankees. You wanted him, you got him.

    • bendover09 - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      They got him cheap so I really don’t know why you are complaining. If the Yankees took on his whole contract then you could whin.

      • paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        When a guy is putting up zero or negative WAR, it really doesn’t matter how little you are paying him (and the Yankees are on the hook for $14M of his contract), he’s not even worth the roster spot.

      • mazblast - Jun 2, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Who’s whining? I loathe the Yankees, and I laugh when my Yankee fan friends complain about how Wells is playing now. I keep telling them, “Look at the last two years. WHAT did you expect?”

      • protius - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:05 AM

        He’s complaining, because he doesn’t have a clue. He just learned the phrase, “regression to the mean” and he wants to toss it around a bit and impress his friends.

        Wells is going through a batting slump; it may be short or it may be prolonged, no one will know for sure until it’s over. His life time batting average (.272) suggests that it’s just as likely for him to “regress” to his April numbers of .300 plus, as he is to regress to his cumulative BA with LAA, i.e., .224.

        No one knows with certainty what Wells will do with the bat until after he has done it. The best that anyone can do is speculate, and try to use the stats to support their particular bias.

    • djpostl - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      So you just ignore the 4 or 5 games he helped you win in April? They knew exactly what they’d get from him in a best case scenario…and they achieved that best case scenario.

      More to the point…whose spot is he taking? Francisco’s? Some other castoff?

      When compared to their other options even with his May performance he’s been worth the move.

  6. gbrim - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Craig–Time to write this same type of article about a more important player at this stage of his career—Justin Upton. His fizzle in May is just as typical of his career as his amazingly productive April. That is what you get with Upton, and building an offense around him is very risky. Upton should be a #5 or #6 hitter on a good offensive team like Atlanta–he will kill you in the three hole.

    • djpostl - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Throw in that incredible overpay on his brother. Oh wait, you have to have a hot streak to fit into this discussion.

    • djpostl - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      We’ll do Craig’s work for him I guess =0

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/share.cgi?id=JGjCw

  7. pisano - Jun 2, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    What they ought to do is platoon Wells with Ichiro and get Boesch more into the line-up, he has a lot of pop in his bat. I think more playing time for Boesch would be more run production, which is what their lacking now.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Yes, please, more of Boesch.

      /giggling

    • djpostl - Jun 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      I’d rather they bring up a youngster than Boesch. He has a proven track record of mediocrity.

      • pisano - Jun 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        djpostl… I was referring to what they have on the bench now, but I agree whoever can put some offense into that line up, bring them on, they’re dormant now.

      • protius - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:12 AM

        Boesch has been doing fine his last few games, considering how little playing time he gets.

  8. Old Gator - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I notice that lack Hole Buck is down to .222, or within about five points of his usual BA over the past few years, after his torrid start for the Mutts. I’ll sleep better knowing that unbeknownst to myself I wasn’t actually squirted into an alternative universe like a watermelon sees.

    • Old Gator - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      seed.

  9. bigmeechy74 - Jun 2, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Hey, All’s wells that ends wells. Amirite brah?

  10. deepstblu - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    That’s life, that’s what all the people say. You’re riding high in April, shot down in May. But I know I’m gonna change that tune, when I’m back on top, back on top in June.

    /lyrics, not just for rainouts

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