Corey Hart is back. Our long local nightmare is over. Mark Kotsay and Erick Almonte no longer roam right field on a daily basis, but what was the damage? Two players can’t be that bad over just 20 games. Right?
Kotsay has come on strong of late, but his .368 on-base percentage belies just how bad he’s been. Kotsay has provided nothing with the actual bat — although his 13 hits in 49 at-bats isn’t terrible, 12 of them have been singles, resulting in a Kendallian .286 slugging percentage. That’s roughly replacement level hitting, and when combined with his horrid right field defense, you have a player who clearly isn’t of MLB caliber.
Almonte, on the other hand, has been almost historically bad. Granted, it’s only been 29 plate appearances, but Almonte has only managed to reach base three times, for a fantastically low .103 on-base percentage. At least one of Almonte’s hits has been a home run, but even with the blast Almonte’s slugging percentage sits at .207. Again, like Kotsay, Almonted is a poor fielder, which just adds to the embarrassment. This is just another exercise in the futility of trusting spring training stats, and because Ron Roenicke was impressed by Almonte’s spring, the Brewers roster was saddled with a player who had no business being even near an MLB roster.
The best way to quantify this is using WPA, or Win Probability Added, to get an actual number of wins the two players have cost the team. As expected, given Kostay’s merely replacement level performance and relatively low number of plate appearances, Kotsay’s WPA sits at -0.30. For reference, Matt Kemp is the current MLB leader at +1.54 and Alcides Escobar is the trailer at -2.10.
Almonte, however, has been about as bad as any player can be in 30 plate appearances, recording a -1.04 WPA in this time (Escobar, for example, already has 99 plate appearances). To put this in a context with historical Brewers, think back to 2009 and reserve outfielder Brad Nelson. In his 23 plate appearances and 21 at-bats, Nelson didn’t manage a single hit, only reaching on two walks. That’s a .000/.087/.000 triple slash line, a .061 wOBA, and a hilarious -82 wRC+. Nelson, though, at least managed to confine his terribleness to mostly low-leverage situations (not that he controlled it, but still), and as a result he only managed a -0.58 WPA, only about half as detrimental to the team as Almonte’s season to date.
Painful. But at least it’s over. The Brewers lost at least one win due to the incompetence of their right field platoon, and maybe as many as two depending on the negative defensive impact. And that’s just relative to replacement level, not to Corey Hart. With Hart back, the team is tremendously better. As for Erick Almonte’s Brewers tenure, it’s best to just forget about it altogether and hope he doesn’t return.