Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rooting for J. J. Hardy

J. J. Hardy hit a wall last year with the Milwaukee Brewers. After two seasons averaging 25 homers per and above league average OPS+, he sank to .229 last year with 11 homers and had the indignity of being sent down to the minors for three weeks. The Brewers all but gave up on him to bring in Alcides Escobar, the supposed next great thing for the Milwaukee Brewers. Escobar batted over .300, but he showed little patience at the plate and had no pop in his bat. The Fan's first thought when the Brewers traded Hardy to the Twins was that the Twins were getting the better shortstop. Heck, he's got to be an upgrade on Nick Punto.

Escobar could turn out to be great. But Hardy put up better fielding numbers and for his career has shown himself to have above league average range at short and a higher fielding percentage than league average. Hardy had 15 errors in 2008. Escobar made 6 in 33 games for the Brewers.

Hardy seems like a good guy. Looking at his stats, it appears that after his 26 homer performance in 2007, he started swinging for them in 2008. Though 2008 was a better statistical year for Hardy than 2007, his strikeouts rose from 78 to 93 for pretty much the same number of plate appearances.

The Twins seem like the perfect place to land for Hardy. For one, he'll have no competition for his job at short. Punto was a great fielder, but man, the guy could not hit his weight most of the time. Secondly, the Twins are such a good organization. They stress fundamentals and team play and Hardy should thrive in that situation. The Twins will keep him on an even keel and stay on top of him if he starts swinging from his heels.

With another chance to flourish with a new organization, this writer predicts that Hardy will again hit 25 homers, drive in 80 and put up a solid 110 or better OPS+. If he does that and continues his excellent glove work, the Twins should gain three or four wins over anything they would have gotten from Punto.

The Fan will be rooting for him. The feeling here is that he wasn't treated very well by the Brewers and deserves to show what he can do for a class organization like the Twins.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I think the Brewers were looking to bring up Escobar and used Hardy's slump as an excuse to let him go. The thing is he is a notoriously slow starter. I'm sure he would have turned it around somewhat over the course of a full season.

Hardy is a good pickup for the Twins. They easily have the best lineup in the AL Central now. And with Hardy and Hudson, they're very strong up the middle. Baker is very good pitcher. I expect he'll have a better year, especially now that he's out of the Metrodome. Blackburn is reliable. If they can get a full season out of Slowey and Duensing isn't a complete fluke, they should be in good shape.