I regret to inform you, readers of the LAANGELSINSIDER, that I am, in fact, not Ryan Gosling. I know, I know, don’t take it all in at once. Surprisingly enough, the man behind these illustrious, baby making articles is not an oiled up, six pack ab having, multi millionaire heartthrob. Instead, I am a man with a greased up (the grease is from far too much bacon) three and a half pack who regularly uses a currency called the “Dong.” This is the part of the article where you insert a crude joke about an unmentionable part of the male anatomy. Go ahead, I’ll wait…..
…I hope that joke was worth it. I believe I was in the middle of a thorough self-deprecation dialogue when you had your little laugh. BACK TO IT. Instead of being (according to my sister) “incredibly attractive” like Sir Gosling, I am, to put it nicely, interesting looking. Instead of kissing Rachel McAdams in the rain with a beard, I am dodging puddles on my front lawn in flip flops and socks with a poncho on trying to get to you as my four day old peach fuzz gets slightly moistened and thus looks more pathetic from the rain. What. A. Man.
Like I said, I am no Ryan Gosling. I do feel kind of dumb telling a universe of people who have no idea what I look like that I am unattractive, but that’s just the kind of humble pie my mom taught me to make. For being interesting looking, I can sure as hell make a mean pie. Anyway, to get my slightly below average looking self through the day, I like to focus on the things that I am, rather than the things that I am not. I am a man with impeccable selection in neck ties. I am a man who puts the toilet seat down EVERY TIME LADIES. I am a man who can make a halfway decent hamburger on the George Foreman Grill (although I usually realize that I have run out of hamburger buns after I finish the burger, thus making me eat it on slices of wheat bread. Thug life.). In so many words, I know who I am, and I know who I am not. I have my strengths, and I have my weaknesses.
This is where this meaningless post starts to resembles baseball. Like me, Alberto Callaspo is definitely not Ryan Gosling. In fact, Alberto Callaspo probably has a “Colin Hanks” rating on the Lil Wayne to Ryan Gosling scale. The good thing about Alberto Callaspo, however, is that he realizes this.
To switch gears to baseball, just assume Gosling’s six pack is Evan Longoria’s defense, and Gosling’s face is Longoria’s hitting ability. My now more-than-borderline-creepy infatuation with Ryan Gosling should be monitored. Alberto Callaspo is not Evan Longoria. He will never be Evan Longoria. But Alberto Callaspo is Alberto Callaspo and Alberto Callaspo is a good major league third baseman. Yes, I get paid by the Callaspo. Callaspo, Callaspo, Callaspo.
Sr. Callaspo, as I tenderly refer to him as, is a flawed baseball player; but every baseball player has flaws. Some flaws are Brandon-Wood-smack-you-in-the-face obvious, and some flaws are Mike-Trout-maybe-he’s-actually-perfect obvious. Alberto Callaspo is somewhere in between. We will begin by examining all of the arguments against Callaspo, followed by a rebuttal.
Being listed generously at 5 feet 9 inches tall, the ability to hit for power was not in the cards for him from birth. His career .108 ISO (slugging percentage – batting average) speaks to this. For comparison, every other qualified third baseman in the major leagues, except Jamey Carroll, has a higher ISO than Callaspo in 2012. He is a man made for warning tracks. However, Callaspo has averaged 8 homeruns and 28 doubles a year in his career, so saying he is Reggie Willits is selling him short. (Get it? Short? Callaspo is short too? I’ll see myself out.)
There is no stat that I can throw in here that says Callaspo is a power hitter. I am not going to pretend that he is. But we knew that when the Angels acquired him. Yet, coming off of a year where he posted a strong .366 on base percentage, his .336 mark this year might not look impressive, especially when you consider the absence of power. Combining these factors with a 40 point drop in his batting average gives Callaspo a pretty underwhelming 2012 stat line. But let’s dig deeper.
Considering his line drive rate has stayed consistent with his career mark this year (19.5%) and both his ground ball and fly ball rates have undergone no major fluctuations, we can put some of the blame for his .247 average on having bad luck. Callaspo has a career .289 average on balls put in play (BABIP), and this year it is plummeted down to .261. Not the entire 40 point drop in batting average from last year can be attributed to luck, but, surely, some of it can be.
Even though he shows little power at the plate and has been unlucky this year, Callaspo has found other ways to contribute. Mainly, by being a very tough out at the plate. Of all qualifying third baseman in 2012, Alberto Callaspo has the third best walk rate (11.3%) and the best strikeout rate (11.1%). He walks more than Alex Rodriguez, Pedro Alvarez, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Zimmerman, David Freese and Hanley Ramirez, among others, while striking out less than all of them. I am not suggesting that Callaspo is a better baseball player than any of these listed. However, I am proving that Callaspo rarely gives an at bat away.
He has 56 plate appearances in which he has worked the pitcher to a full count, good for second place on the club behind Mike Trout’s 79. But because Alberto Callaspo is from the planet Earth, and Mike Trout is not, being second is still impressive. Moreover, Callaspo has had a three ball count in 95 plate appearances this year. That is third among the Angels regulars behind The Alien and Albert Pujols.
What I find to be the most impressive part about these specific stats, is that a player of Callaspo’s size and power, does not get any free at bats. He must work for everything at the plate. No manager who values their job would pitch around Alberto Callaspo on purpose. In fact, Callaspo has just one intentional walk this year. On the other hand, Albert Pujols, who has 115 plate appearances with a three ball count, has been intentionally walked 14 times this year. (Although the “unintentional intentional walk” cannot be quantified, I’m sure we are safe to assume Pujols has had a few of those as well; considering he has 22 plate appearances where he’s had a 3-0 count.) To compare the Callaspo and Pujols, we will exclude intentional walks from the sample size, because they do not give an accurate representation of a batter’s plate discipline. Excluding these, the difference between the number of three ball counts Callaspo and Pujols have seen is left to just 7.
At this point, you have read two consecutive paragraphs about the Alberto Callaspo’s three ball counts. That probably wasn’t on your agenda when you started your day. The point I’m trying to make with Callaspo is that, even when he is not hitting the ball or getting on base via the walk, he is still making the pitcher work. Players who can make pitchers work and draw walks seldom endure prolonged slumps. They are still on base, and they are still contributing to creating runs.
Callaspo does not have the foot speed that usually accompanies a player of his stature and lack of power. His 22 career stolen bases would indicate as much. Mike Trout scoffs at your 22 stolen bases, Alberto! However, this is not to say Callaspo is a slow runner; and I do not think people who have watched the Angels this year would label him “slow.” We have watched Kendrys Morales run this year and Bengie Molina in years past, so we are experts at what slow looks like. Callaspo is not slow. In a 100 meter foot race between Kendrys Morales and Bengie Molina, I’d bet on a turtle with weights around its ankles. Do turtles have ankles? Is anybody still reading?
For those that are, while Callaspo doesn’t often get confused with Usain Bolt, he is a solid runner. Despite hitting ground balls at a higher rate this year than any of his last 3, he has hit into only 6 double plays all year in a possible 75 double play situations. From here on out, I propose we call him Alberto “Not Howie Kendrick” Callaspo. According to baseballreference.com, on passed balls, wild pitches, plays of defensive indifference, and fly balls, he has taken eleven extra bases this year while only being thrown out twice. He has gone first to home on a double 50% of the time, and second to home on a single 85% of the time. In short (“in short” is a phrase I bet you were waiting for me to say), while Callaspo is not a burner on the base paths, he does what is needed to help a team win a game. He is not a negative on the bases, which has value in and of itself.
Thirdly, saying he is Adrian Beltre-esque defensively at third base is also something only the drunken mother of Alberto Callaspo would say. Actually, Jose Canseco would probably say that too (sorry, Matthew James). To quantify defensive performance, the UZR and UZR/150 metrics are the best of what is available. UZR takes into account range, arm, and double play efficiency; and UZR/150 projects those totals out to a 150 game season at that position. While I admit that UZR/150 and UZR are not flawless metrics, they are the best metrics easily available to the masses, and Beltre sports a 3 year UZR/150 average of 14 (saving his team 14 runs per 150 games with his defense), making him a perennial gold glove candidate. Nevertheless, saying he is Miguel Cabrera (UZR/150 of -11 in 2012) is something only the drunken Miguel Cabrera would say. Or Jose Canseco.
Once again, Callaspo rates well. Of players who have played at least 950 innings at the hot corner this year, Callaspo ranks 5th in terms of UZR/150, projecting to save about 9 runs this year. For comparison, our other third base option, Mark Trumbo, played 63 innings at third base this year. He was projected to have a UZR/150 score of -101, costing the Angels over 100 runs this year on defense alone. This is a small sample size and Mark Trumbo, playing an entire year at third probably would have corrected some of his mistakes, but it still shows quite a discrepancy between the two.
For me to have spent nearly 1900 words defending Alberto Callaspo shows one thing: he is far from perfect. He is not the traditional third baseman, nor is he an ideal long term candidate there. I would much prefer to see Evan Longoria or Chase Headley in the lineup card every day too. Yet to give up the amount of money and prospects to replace an already capable third baseman with an even better one seems excessive. He will never hit for power, steal bases, or win a gold glove, but he makes pitchers work, does not cost us runs on the bases, and saves us runs defensively. He may not be as flashy as Evan Longoria or as sexy as Ryan Gosling (Must. Resist. Man. Crush), but not many players or people are. What he is, is a slightly above average major league third baseman. He is Colin Hanks, I mean, um, he’s Alberto Callaspo.
I love Ryan Gosling hehehe.