When I saw Aaron Luna in August, I wrote:
Same kind of scenario as Brown. Good speed, weak outfield arm. If I questioned Brown’s bat, Luna’s seems even less likely to play at the majors as a corner outfielder. There’s just not enough power or secondary skills there
Looking through some statistics recently, I am continually caught off guard by his numbers and how good they are. There’s a reason for that though.
In the last two seasons, Aaron Luna has been hit by a pitch 52 times. 24 in 2009 and 28 by the lastest count in 2010. That’s gotta hurt. The current leader in the MLB is Richie Weeks who has been hit by pitch 23 times. So Luna’s not that far off! Well the only downside to that is there’s little evidence that getting hit by pitches is a “skill”. Of the 12 players with double digit HBP in 2010, just 3 had double digits in 2009.
Luna may be good at getting his lean on or bad at dodging balls — (throw a wrench, if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball) — but it’s highly unlikely that this is representative of a skill on his part. He’s merely been subjected to some bad control pitchers and a lot of subsequent welts.
What happens if we recategorize his HBP appearances? Let’s assume that for those 52 PAs, he will have a distribution similar to the other 725 PAs he’s had over the last two seasons. Here’s his outcome distribution in those 725 PAs:
|Event||Percentage of Outcomes||52 HBP becomes|
There’s some rounding going on in and some sacrifice flys/bunts that I didn’t mess with. That leaves us with 3 HBP after we convert — a much more common HBP total. So what does his seasonal line look like after that?
His 2009-2010 numbers modified to reduce the HBP from 52 to 3 produce a .271/.359/.489 (AVG/OBP/SLG). The other caveat to add is that 61% of his plate appearances have come in Springfield, which favors hitters. Luna has been good and I’m not trying to take that away from him. Statistically, even after the assumptions, he’s still been a good player. It’s just a caveat that the HBP drastically inflates his on base percentage by 40 points.
That adjusted set of numbers would put his performance behind Matt Carpenter and, the player I compared him too, Andrew Brown in terms of production. With Luna being transitioned to a corner outfield position, the threshold for his offense is much higher than it was at second base.
Note: This post is not intended to be a rigorous statistical regression of repeatable skills. It’s “A Quick Look”. Please read the assumptions in that spirit.