Padres by 3OPS
I can't imagine anyone reading this doesn't alreadt read Baseball Prospectus, but in cas you don't, this is from Tom Gorman of BP:
San Diego Padres: At the beginning of the season we took a moment to talk about recent products of the Padres' farm system. One of the characters we took a shine to was Xavier Nady, who opened the season as Dave Roberts' substitute in center field (Roberts was hobbled in spring training with a pulled groin muscle). By the time Roberts was finally healthy Nady had put up an oustanding .341/.383/.659 line in 47 plate appearances. The job, however, was still considered Roberts' and his 2005 line of .287/.358/.480 is far from disappointing, especially in Petco Park. That, combined with his speed and generally excellent outfield defense make Roberts one of the better center fielders in baseball.
Given his 2005 line of .267/.337/.520, the Padres have been reasonably desperate to get Nady some plate appearances, but that hasn't always been easy. Roberts' current knee problem gives Nady a spot for the week, but most days he's blocked there and blocked in both left and right field by the positive play of Ryan Klesko (.276/.379/.480) and Brian Giles (.283/.415/.498). Nady has been used as a pinch hitter, a platoon partner to the left-handed-hitting Klesko and Roberts, as a late-inning substitute in blowouts, and someone whose defensive versatility allows him to be spotted as a pinch hitter in any sort of double-switch opportunity.
The one idea the Padres haven't implemented to any extent this year is the plan they floated in the off-season: to let Nady return to his college position of third base, and replace the woefully inadequate Sean Burroughs (currently "hitting" .262/.332/.307). Of the 38 major-league players with 200 PAs whose primary position is 3B, Burroughs is 32nd in VORP, trailed only by Joe Crede, Mark Teahen, Ty Wigginton, David Bell, Mike Lowell, and Aaron Boone. Burroughs has the lowest slugging rate of any third baseman with at least 75 plate appearances, a full .029 behind Mike Lowell, who is hitting a woeful .217/.271/.336. This isn't a one-year anomaly, either; Burroughs' career slugging average is .364 and in his best year (2003) he had just seven home runs and a .402 SLG. To put it another way, Nady has more home runs in this partial season than Burroughs has had in his two best year's combined. As BP's Dave Pease pointed out, Burroughs has one home run this year, while Nady had three in three games during a series with Seattle.
In the 2000, 2002, and 2003 editions of our BP annual we predicted that Burroughs' power would eventually show up, but it hasn't and it doesn't look like it ever will. This year PECOTA tagged Burroughs with a huge Collapse Rate, indicating that there was a significant chance that Burroughs would fail to match even his modest recent performance. PECOTA hedged correctly: while his batting average and on-base percentage are close to what PECOTA forecasted, Burroughs' 2005 slugging average is well below even his 10th percentile prediction.
From various comments that General Manager Kevin Towers made at the recent BP sponsored Pizza Feed in San Diego, it seems clear that Towers realizes how much Burroughs is hurting the team's offense. At their current 2005 levels, the offensive difference between Nady and Burroughs is almost a full 1/3rd of a run per game. If Clay Davenport's defensive numbers are even close to accurate, Nady would have to be twice as bad as Chipper Jones at third for Burroughs' defense to be worth the offensive tradeoff. We haven't seen Nady at the hot corner since college but we find it hard to believe that Nady's defense could be so bad as to not experiment with him at the hot corner when he can't find another way into the lineup.
A certain fish wrap has published an article claiming Towers and Alderson will butt heads. Needless to say, the Washington Post's coverage of sports is about as stellar as its coverage of everything else.
Players must have at least one plate appearance per game played by the team. League Average for 3OPS is .260. It reads like batting average. 3OPS is purely an offensive metric.