From Robin To Rickie

March 21, 2006

Brewers Outlook: Brady Clark

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jamie Herbst @ 3:23 pm

Brady Clark 2

I’ve decided to start a series on individual Brewers players, including thoughts and projections for the 2006 season and beyond. Today I’ll begin with center fielder and leadoff man Brady Clark.

Clark’s a guy I feel was very underrated by the Brewers faithful in 2005, as he had a great season, both offensively and with the glove. There is some personal bias here. My newborn son’s name is Brady, and while we didn’t name him after Clark, I probably would’ve pushed for a different name had I not loved watching Clark play.

Strengths: The guy’s tough, does all the fundamentals well, gets on base like a leadoff hitter’s supposed to do, and has the range to play center very well.

Brady took over center field for the Crew in 2005 when Scott Podsednik was traded to the White Sox. At the time, many thought we’d be accepting a dropoff in center in order to bring in slugging left fielder Carlos Lee. I would argue we lost virtually nothing, other than going from Brady Clark to Chris Magruder coming off the bench. Let’s compare Clark’s 2005 with Podsednik’s 2004, since in 2005 he moved to left field with the Sox.

2005 Clark: 599 AB, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 10 SB, .306/.372/.426 (avg/obp/slg), .275 EQA, 4 FRAA (fielding runs above average).

2004 Podsednik: 640 AB, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 70 SB, .244/.313/.364, .249 EQA, -11 FRAA.

Podsednik improved with the bat in ’05, putting up a .290/.351/.349 line and a .265 EQA, with improved defense with the move to left.

The numbers clearly show that Clark’s 2005 was better than Podsednik’s 2004 and 2005, offensively and defensively. Superficially, it’s easy to get caught up in Podsednik’s stolen base totals, but his microscopic slugging percentage tends to even out the difference between he and Clark. Stolen bases opportunities are easier to come by when every time you’re on base, you’re sitting on first.

Defensively, it’s not even close. Anyone who watched Podsednik man center for the Crew can agree that balls hit deep to center were an adventure, as Podsednik routinely had problems going back on them. The numbers don’t lie either, as his -11 FRAA in 2004 should make most teams question the prudence of playing him out there.

Clark had a very solid year with the leather in center in 2005. He started out very hot, ranking among the top defensive centerfielders in baseball for the first several months, before dropping back down to a very solid 4 FRAA. Folks, that’s a 15 run improvement defensively from the center field position.

This may seem like I’m trying to knock Podsednik, but I’m not. It’s just that a lot in the media like to focus on the Podsednik/Lee deal as turning out equally good for both teams. It’s usually overlooked that while picking up a big gain in Lee, the Brewers also made a significant gain in replacing Podsednik with Clark in center.

Weaknesses: It was very frustrating watching Clark try to steal bases in 2005. He was successful in only 10 of 23 stolen base attempts (43%), which is beyond awful. I have no idea why he continued to run, or what suddenly changed about his or the Brewers’ philosophy. Previously in his career, Clark had been 33 for 46 (72%). All I can think is that both he and the Brewers thought running more is what a leadoff hitter should do. Thankfully, there have been reports that the Brewers have concentrated on helping him in this area this spring.

Clark also slumped with the bat in August, but to his credit bounced back with a very strong September. It’s hard to find too many other bad things to say about his 2005 season.

Outlook: Brady will be 33 shortly after the start of the season, and the Brewers signed him to a 2-year, $7 million contract about a month ago. Clearly unless he gets hurt or seriously regresses in 2006, he’s the Brewers centerfielder. There were rumors the Brewers were thinking of moving him out of the leadoff spot for Rickie Weeks, but Ned Yost later declared Clark the tablesetter once again. It’s really too bad Clark didn’t get more of a chance with the Reds earlier in his career, as he’s just the type of player many many teams would like to have roaming the outfield. I see 2005 as probably being his career year, but while he probably won’t match those numbers I do see him hitting .285 with around a .360 on-base percentage. My projected line for Clark:

10 homers, 55 RBI, 12 SB, .282/.365/.410

The disappointment that is Dave Krynzel means no one will be pushing for Clark’s job this year. However, word is the Brewers will be playing Nelson Cruz in center at AAA Nashville, Corey Hart logged some time there in late 2005, and there still is the possibility that Bill Hall or even Rickie Weeks (if his defense at 2B gets worse) could be moved to center in the future. I’ll predict a move to a very productive 4th outfielder spot for Clark in 2007, with the possibility of him being dealt after this season to a team in need of a center fielder.

Tomorrow- Carlos Lee

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2 Comments »

  1. I didn’t have a problem with the signing of Clark for 2 years. Like you say, there’s no one pushing for the job and I can’t see Weeks moving there, at least in the short term. Tony Gwynn Jr. has probably surpassed Krynzel at this point and he’s not ready, and may never be.

    The Brewers would be more apt to trade Lee to open a spot before thinking about trading Clark. Who knows what’s going to happen this season. What if Lee and Jenkins go down? You’ve got to believe that a three-headed monster of Cruz/Hart/Gross will be surrounding Clark. How much would the overall production of those three position suffer?

    Back to Brady. He’s consistant, steady, above average statistically, and he keeps his mouth shut while concentrating on his job. Any manager would love to have nine guys just like him in the lineup.

    Comment by John Schmid — March 21, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

  2. Nice piece Jamie.

    Like John, I didn’t have a problem with the Brewers signing Brady Clark for 2 more years.

    TOP CF by VORP 2005
    Andruw Jones 60.9
    Ken Griffey Jr. 59.2
    Jim Edmonds 50.8
    Johnny Damon 49.2
    Brady Clark 37.4

    for comparison:
    Scott Podsednik 13.6

    Huge, huge upgrade for the brewers last year. Would’ve been my offensive MVP had it not been for Jenkins scorching second half. (well, clark or lee)

    I think Clark is still underrated. I think a lot of people believe his ’05 was a fluke, but me, I think he’s just as good as his ’05 season.

    His career numbers are .283/.361/.404, ZiPS has him at .291/.364/.414 for ’06 and I would not be surprised if he goes .295/.380/.420 (which i guess is inline with his ZiPS projection, hm, i guess I’m surprised ZiPS has him so high)

    Anyway, ultimately I hope to see Corey Hart in CF, but if it’s Brady Clark in ’07 still, that’ll be fine too.

    He HAS to stop running though. Neddy & Co. need to realize that the strength of this offense is going to be smashing the ball, NOT small ball. Clark needs to walk and sit and wait for Weeks, Jenks, Fielder, or Lee to knock him in via the long ball.

    Comment by jacob — March 22, 2006 @ 8:53 am


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