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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

What happens to Joe Crede? 

We as White Sox fans have been hearing about third baseman Joe Crede for about as long as Strom Thurman has been in the senate.  Actually I think it's a little closer to since he was A-ball Northwest League MVP in 1998 yet we're now going into the 2002 season and Crede still isn't management's choice as our regular third baseman.  Barring the unexpected Crede will begin his season at AAA Charlottte to waste his time for the second year in a row when he could/should be playing in Comiskey.  This pushes Joe's timetable for him to take his place as Sox third baseman of the future to April 2003 and us Sox fans get another year of Jose Valentin out of position and the lovable Royce Clayton at short. 
 
In April of next year Joe Crede turns 25, which got me thinking what kind of effect getting his start at that age would have on his future.  I decided to take a look at what current major league regulars got their break at age 25, as suggested by Mike on the Sox email list.  I'm defining "got their break" by playing in more than half your teams games and getting at least 250 at-bats.  There were 29 players who fit the criteria, eleven percent of major league regulars.  Oddly, six of the 29 are catchers.
 
Of the group almost a third of them, nine, have positive career Total Player Ratings (TPR).  TPR is the method of evaluating a player's total contribution to his team (offense & defense).  Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb and Barry Bonds are the all time top five in TPR and bad players who get a lot of playing time can attribute TPRs deep into the red.  The best player among the group is 2000 season MVP Jason Giambi and he's one of eight in the group to make an All-Star appearance.  It's a soft eight though as three of them Brad Ausmus, Dan Wilson and Joe Girardi are mediocre catch and throw-caddy type catchers who received token appearances due to lack of strong catching candidates. 
 
I think the most interesting player to show up in the group is Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell who even before this I would have said is the single most comparable major leaguer to Crede.  Both are third basemen who are good with the glove and solid hitters despite not having a standout trait as a hitter to impress onlookers.  Last year Lowell hit .283/.340/.448 with 65 runs and 100 RBIs and Stats describes him as the second best defensive third baseman in the National League.  Lowell is the kind of player who gets underrated because he has no hook for mainstream media to tie onto like hitting a ton of homers or flashy "Web Gem" defense.  It's a lot easier to rave for 75 lines about a guy who makes Baseball Tonight viewers "oooh" and "aaaaaa" than a guy who does a little of this well, a little of that well, a little of the other well. 
 
So I can optimistically say beginning your career at 25 isn't a death wish and Joe Crede is Mike Lowell II in the making.  I think Crede will give us five or six years as an above average but not great third baseman who should win a couple Gold Gloves but will be hard pressed to beat out Troy Glaus, Eric Chavez or Hank Blalock (remember that name) to make the All-Star team.  Now if K-Willy could just get a clue and let Crede start producing for us right now. 

Editor's Note:  Andrew Ritchie is known by WSI's message board crowd  as Kermitthefrog and writes about the White Sox based on statistical analysis.  Andrew like statistics because it helps cut through the bias when talking baseball.  Andrew pledges to be as objective as possible, but hey--nobody is perfect!  You can email Andrew at kermittheefrog@ameritech.net

 

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