Knowing the Unknowable: Jimmy Paredes

Moneyball seems to be on my mind lately. We discussed a lot about the book, the movie and what they all said. I know the sabermetric community gets thrown around here a lot, but for all the fancy statistics we have, there are still things we can't know until we have more information.

I didn't have to try very hard to come up with 10 different things about this team that we just can't know. First up, Jimmy Paredes. Let's run through what we do know about him:

  • One of the top prospects in the system, Paredes made a pretty significant jump just by playing in Double-A this season. After 92 games there, he jumped straight to the major leagues for another 45 games.
  • He played second base the majority of the time in the minors, but also played third base and even played 39 games at shortstop.
  • He had a batting average on balls in play 90 points higher than his batting average. The largest discrepancy he had in the minors was 56 points in 435 plate appearances with the Yankees' Low A affiliate before being traded to Houston in 2010.
  • Both in the minors and majors, Paredes showed good speed but not necessarily good baserunning skills.

After the jump, we'll look at what we can't know...

The biggest thing we can't know about Paredes isn't what you think it is. The biggest question mark around him is the quality of his defense.

We can't really trust the limited data we got on him playing in the majors. After all, that data tells us that his range was sub-par and more like Kevin Youkilis. Our eyes will quickly dispute that, which should make us question the statistic itself (especially with all the questions surrounding UZR's use in small samples). 

I'm not saying Paredes is a good defender at third, but he's certainly better than Chris Johnson. He still needs to improve in some areas, but that's more from observational data. Or, as it's known around baseball circles, through scouting.

We also don't know how much his speed affects his game. We've got some data on his baserunning, and it's impressive. He probably needs to work on his stealing instincts, but his speed can be an asset for this club long-term. The problem is it may not be an asset in the short-term, as more games and more data are needed to see just where that shakes out. If his problems with being caught stealing played out over a whole season, his baserunning becomes much less valuable, right?

Lastly, we can't know about his bat. I know, the BABiP thing is a huge indicator he'll fall off. I'm not disputing that. We just don't know how much he'll fall off. Because of his speed, I don't see him pulling a Chris Johnson, but it will be much lower than this brief appearance. We also can't know how his power will play over an entire season. Just think back to that triple he hit Tuesday. That was a very well-hit ball. If he had pulled it a bit?

None of his stats and none of the traditional scouting you can do on him will even give a hint at how he'll do next season. That's why the question of whether he should start in the minors is so tricky. He played well enough in a small sample to say the Astros should keep him in the majors and get more data. However, if the traditional scouting says he needs to work on his defense or baserunning, is he better off at Triple-A?

It's a tricky question, and I won't attempt an answer...yet.

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