Re-signing Greg Dobbs: Good Move for the Marlins?

Greg Dobbs hits a three-run home run against the Houston Astros. Dobbs should provide the Marlins with a decent bat off the bench in 2012.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea / Getty Images)

After the flurry of Free Agent signings last month the Marlins have unquestionably improved the roster in a significant way. By adding Jose Reyes and shifting Hanley Ramirez, who finally publicly accepted the move, to Third Base the infield took shape. Barring any further trades or acquisitions the Marlins infield for the upcoming season would have John Buck catching, Gaby Sanchez at First Base, Omar Infante at Second, Reyes at Shortstop, and Ramirez at Third. The outfield is also more or less set with Mike Stanton in Right Field and Logan Morrison in Left. The only question mark is in Center Field, where Emilio Bonifacio and Byran Petersen are in a battle for the starting job. Depth and bench help for the Marlins is a bit unsettled. According to reports the Marlins have come to terms with Greg Dobbs. How does he fit on the new look Marlins, a very different team from the one he was a part of last season? Lets take a look and find out.

Production

First lets have a look at his numbers from a year ago, as well as from his eight year career:

Greg Dobbs

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

wOBA

ISO

BABIP

wRAA

2011

439

0.275

0.311

0.389

0.701

0.305

0.114

0.325

-3.9

career

1620

0.264

0.308

0.405

0.713

0.308

0.141

0.304

-21.8

I chose to focus on his offensive numbers for a couple of reasons. The defensive positions he plays have better options as the roster currently stands. Dobbs would not unseat anyone at the corner infield or outfield spots for a starting role. His defensive numbers at First Base, Left and Right Field from last season must be ignored due to small sample size issues. His defense at Third Base, both last year and for his career, has been below average according to UZR/150, which had him at -10.0 last season and -6.6 for his career. No matter what defensive metric you use to evaluate his performance in the field for his career Dobbs has proven to be a below average defender. I also chose to focus on offense because, over his career, Dobbs has been noted for his pinch hitting abilities. His slash line in 316 career pinch hit plate appearances is .259/.316/.430.

What can be gained from his offensive numbers? Going down the line we see that, for the most part, Greg Dobbs is an average offensive player. In general his stats from 2011 are relatively close to league average, in most cases slightly above. There are, however, two worrying points: his BABIP was well above both league and career averages and the -3.9wRAA. wRAA measures how many runs a player contributed to his team with league average being zero. Positive wRAA means above average performance and negative wRAA means below average performance. The high BABIP is worrisome because it could be the cause of slightly elevated overall offensive performance based largely on luck. The negative wRAA is troublesome because it shows Dobbs was actually a below average run producer for the Marlins in 2011.

As mentioned, overall Dobbs possesses an average, to slightly above average bat. Seeing as he does not project to be an everyday player for the Marlins in 2012 his offensive production is adequate for a career bench/utility player, the role in which he will continue with the Fish next season.

Where would he play?

The acquisition of Reyes and the resulting shifting of Ramirez to Third Base fills the hole vacated by Dobbs, who manned Third for the Fish for 100 games last season. He obviously would not walk back into an everyday position there. Along with these 100 games at Third Dobbs started six games in the outfield last season, three in Left and three in Right. He also started three games at First Base. As the roster currently stands he is behind Morrison, Stanton, and Sanchez at those respective positions.

When we looked at his offensive numbers we found that he does not have the bat necessary to provide value at any of the positions he played for the team last season on a full time basis. In each case he is behind a superior offensive player. As mentioned, his defense over his career has been nothing to write home about. Does this mean his re-signing was a mistake? Hardly. Dobbs provides enough offensive value and is durable in the positions he is able to play in the field. He may not provide Gold Glove defense but his ability to play First, Third, and the corner outfield spots allows the Marlins flexibility. He can relieve any of those four positions when the starter needs a day off. He could also fill in if any of them go for a short stint on the disabled list. Dobbs also provides a decent bat off the bench in pinch hitting situations.

Earlier, when looking at Dobbs' offensive numbers, his alleged pitch hitting prowess was not backed up by the stats. His line, albeit in a small sample of 316 plate appearances, was not much different than his career line, meaning he is only average in those situations. The following, from The Book, backs up his performance in pinch hitting situations:

The Book says:

A player is significantly less effective as a pinch hitter than he is as a starter. All players show a comparable decline in effectiveness; in other words, there is no such thing as a pinch hitting specialist. Therefore, a pinch hitter would have to be significantly better than the player he is hitting for in order to make the substitution worthwhile.

Thankfully Dobbs' versatility allows him to be more than just a pinch hitter, a situation in which he would not provide much value to the Marlins. Comparing his career pinch hitting numbers to the 2011 numbers of the projected starting lineup we see this is true:

BA

OBP

SLG

Greg Dobbs

0.259

0.316

0.430

John Buck

0.227

0.316

0.367

Gaby Sanchez

0.266

0.352

0.427

Omar Infante

0.276

0.315

0.382

Hanley Ramirez

0.243

0.333

0.379

Jose Reyes

0.337

0.384

0.493

Logan Morrison

0.247

0.330

0.468

Emilio Bonifacio

0.296

0.360

0.393

Bryan Petersen

0.265

0.357

0.387

Mike Stanton

0.262

0.356

0.537

Based solely on his pinch hitting abilities Dobbs does not stand out among the regulars in the Marlins' lineup. This does not mean, however, Dobbs doesn't provide value as a pinch hit bat off the bench. He is a good option to bat for the pitcher, as well as for certain position players in late game situations. It also must be noted that the value Dobbs provides to the team only comes from pinch hitting.

Bench Depth

As mentioned earlier the Marlins have their starting line-up pretty much set, unless of course there are any trades or further signings during the remainder of the offseason. Dobbs becomes the first man off the bench in pinch hitting situations, something he has become comfortable with over the course of his career. His numbers as a pinch hitter in 316 plate appearances are in line with his overall numbers, which is to be expected. He also can back up four defensive positions on the diamond providing welcome versatility. Sharing the bench player/utility role with guys like Donnie Murphy, Scott Cousins, and Bryan Petersen/Emilio Bonifacio, Dobbs provides a veteran presence for a relatively young team.

In the end

After all is said and done I like the re-signing of Dobbs for the Marlins. Two years at $1.5M per season is a significant raise, more than doubling the $600,000 he earned last season, but is still more than reasonable for what he will bring to the Marlins for the next two seasons.

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