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San Francisco Giants: How does Chase Headley compare to Pablo Sandoval?

By Mark ONeill
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A reader responded to a recent post, suggesting that it was ill-advised for San Francisco Giants GM, Brian Sabean, to attempt to sign Chase Headley.  This is what he wrote: “If Pablo walks, his $$$ should be used to sign another franchise player, such as Max Scherzer. Don’t blow it all on the scrap heap, Brian.”

Aside from the insignificant detail that signing a top-notch starting pitcher, does not solve the rather “sizable” gap at third base, the term “scrap heap” conjures up an undesirable commodity, something rusty, dented, and incapable of getting the job done. Dan Uggla came off the scrap heap and there is a certain 39-year-old center fielder, who has been compared to a statue, as far as defense is concerned, available, if that is what you had in mind, but just because a player becomes available at a reasonable price, does not mean he originated on the scrap heap.

Was either Cody Ross or Pat Burrell an example of something obtained from the scrap heap? Chase Headley has played for mediocre Padres teams, providing much of the offense on a pitcher-friendly squad, without the kind of lineup presence that the San Francisco Giants would be able to provide.

Just how do Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley stack up against each other, from 2009 through 2014? Stats for the sake of stats, rarely light anyone’s fire, except for the saber-metric crowd, but an overview of the two players appears in order.

Coincidentally, both became full-time players in 2009, so by examining the six years in between then and 2014, and given the totals on those stats, an immediate assessment as to what these two have accomplished in their careers can be made.

Sandoval’s numbers look like this:

  • 828 games (average of 138 per season);   3379 PA  (average of 563)
  • 3070 AB (average of 512);     .292 BA ;      OPS .809
  • 896 H (average of 149);  .345 OBP;  103 HR (average of 17)
  • 18 3B (3);   182 2B (average of 30);   438 RBIs (average of 73)
  • 1423 TB (average of 237);    374 R (average of 62)
  • .464 SLG;  11 SB (2);  CS 12 (2)     
  • 255 BB (average of 42);   and 49 IW (8);  450 SO (average of 75)
  • WAR 20.1  (average of 3.4)

Headley matches up like this:

  • 867 games (average of 145 per season);    3555 PA  (average 592)
  • 3128 AB (average of 521);   .265 BA;    OPS .756
  • 830 H (average of 138);  .348 OBP;  84 HR (average of 14)
  • 11 3B (2);  174 2B (average of 29);     380 RBI’s (average of 63)
  • 1278 TB (average of 213);  391 R (average of 65)   
  • .409 SLG;     72SB (12);     CS 22 (4) 
  • 374 BB (average of 62); 24 IW (4); 785 SO (average of 131)
  • WAR 20.8 (average of 3.5)

There are twenty categories-some-obviously, more important than others.

Mar. 26, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Fans watch the game between the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Many of the stats match up comparably, with batting average (.292-.265), total bases (1423-1278), and strike outs (785-450), being the most skewed, all in Sandoval’s favor.

Sandoval has the edge but a quick glance at one key number gives a more accurate picture.

If you are only going to compare one stat, how about that WAR? Kind of puts it all in perspective.

All of the offensive stats are presented, but Headley has played several different positions, defensively, so compare the WAR, if you will, for the two players.

This stat gives a comprehensive analysis of “the total contributions to a team” by the individual in question. Note, please, that Chase Headley’s WAR is higher than Pablo Sandoval’s. Whereas the stat may not be significant by itself, if you look at it in conjunction with the fact that Headley has the highest projected WAR for 2015, it just might.

Headley is 31 while Sandoval is 28. If Headley, with his 20.8 War, is a reclaim from the scrap heap, what does that make Sandoval, with his 20.1 War?

It makes him expendable.

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