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Tommy Manzella vs. Adam Everett

September is here, rosters have expanded, and the Astros are pretty well out of contention.  At this point, most Fans (meaning those who are still paying attention to the Astros) really would like to get a good look at what Tommy Manzella can do on the big-league level.  With the possibility that Tejada could move to 3B and Roy Oswalt’s call for more defense, it makes sense to see if the young (for an Astro) shortstop can handle the position.

The Round Rock Express play their final game of the season on Monday, September 7, and it’s possible that Manzella could get a call-up soon afterward.  The general consensus about Manzella is that his defense is major-league ready, even drawing comparisons to notable glove-artist Adam Everett.  This would be an excellent asset for the Astros.  In 2009, Miguel Tejada has an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of -9.7.  Jeff Keppinger hasn’t been as bad, but has posted a -4.4 UZR.  By comparison, Everett’s UZR in 2005 was +15.0. 

Everett’s defense saved a lot of runs during his tenure.  He saved so many runs, in fact, that he was able to post positive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in each of his 5 full seasons as an Astro:

Year

WAR

Dollar Value of WAR

2002

2.4

$6.7M

2003

2.3

$7.2M

2004

2.3

$7.8M

2005

2.6

$9.5M

2006

1.0

$4.1M

Unfortunately, Manzella’s glove isn’t the only thing drawing comparisons to Adam Everett…there are also questions about whether Manzella’s bat will play at the next level.  Despite his stellar defense, Everett drew frequent criticism from less sabermetric-oriented fans for his lack of offensive prowess.  He was a regular part of the "black hole of offense" occupying the 7, 8, and 9 spots in the lineup (usually including Ausmus and the pitcher).  The big question with Manzella is whether he’ll be able to rise to the bare minimum Adam Everett-level of offense. 

We can compare how Everett did in his time in AAA with the year Manzella had in 2009.  And we can compare how Everett did with the Astros with Manzella’s Minor League Equivalency (MLE) statistics, a projection of how his AAA performance would translate to the majors.  Here’s a big table with all of those stats in it:

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

BB/SO

Everett - AAA Career

.255

.313

.361

.674

145/249 = 0.582

Manzella - AAA - 2009

.290

.341

.421

.762

39/96 = 0.406

Everett - Astros

.248

.299

.357

.656

131/347 = 0.378

Manzella - MLE

.247

.288

.348

.636

29/98 = 0.296

A quick look shows that Manzella’s rate stats compare favorably to Adam’s relatively steady 4-year AAA career.  His BB/SO, though, shows that Manzella is not quite as patient as Everett was at the same stage of his career.  This will probably result in a less smooth transition to the majors for Manzella than Everett had.  Comparing Everett’s Astro-career and Manzella’s MLE suggests that they could be very similar players on offense. 

If Manzella’s defense really is up to Everett level, then we would probably do well to get him up in the majors very soon so that he can start getting used to major league pitching. 

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