Imagine you are Dick Williams and need to fill left field with someone for the 2017 season. You’ve already slotted Jesse Winker into the right field hole, and while Ryan Ludwick could be coaxed out of retirement, you want to try something with a positive chance at success. You want the decision made sooner rather than later, so you ask some aide who looks vaguely like Jonah Hill to mock up some player comparisons of your two best in-house options. After about an hour, the aide–we’ll call him Paul–returns with a mock up.
You, the savvy General Manager you are, see these numbers and are confounded. Player A walks less but also strikes out less and hits for more power but doesn’t get on base as much apparently. Meanwhile, Player B seems to be more of that three-outcome player that you’ve been told makes a great corner outfielder, but boy does this kid strike out a lot.
Leaning towards Player A for your 2017 roster, you realize that these stats only represent a month of data and decide to send Paul off to find more numbers on these players but in a bigger sample size. Paul, the good aide that he is, returns with a new mock up.
“Goodness gracious,” you cry while clutching your heart and feigning distress for Paul’s sake (he’s a drama major in his spare time). “Of course, Player B will be our starter next year. Player A is dreadful.”
At this point, Paul pipes up in the most serious voice he can summon and says, “But sir, maybe Player A just had a truly terrible 70 plate appearances. He has done better in the majority of his appearances since then after all.”
What do you do?
If you haven’t figured it out by this point, Player A is Scott Schebler and Player B is Adam Duvall. Paul is just a figment of my imagination.
But Paul has a point: Scott Schebler has outperformed the spring edition of himself significantly in the month of August. In fact, over the past month, Schebler and Duvall have been practically interchangeable.
So which Scott Schebler is for real? Is the lefty worth hanging onto over Duvall for the upcoming season?
To answer the first question: I have absolutely no idea.
Over the course of his minor league career, Schebler’s power numbers have danced around without any semblance of consistency. He hit six home runs in A ball, then followed up with a 27 home run season in high-A and a 28 home run season in AA before falling back to a 13 home run season in AAA. Schebler is a hard pull hitter, so maybe park effects played a role, but it couldn’t have been as extreme as his variation.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say Schebler is a 20-25 home run guy over the course of a full season. Respectable and a good bat to have in the lineup, but nowhere near the power that Duvall has commanded this season.
To answer the second question (which is more interesting anyway): No, not at all.
If the Reds do have room to hang onto Schebler as well as Duvall, they should by all means do it. Schebler, when hot, is a decent bat and plays decently enough in the field to be a fifth outfielder next year.
But if Duvall can maintain his late-in-life breakthrough through next season, he should continue to get the nod in left. His Def rating is a full nine points higher than Schebler’s, and despite the strikeouts, he is a far better hitter than Schebler in terms of runs created.
Yes, the month of August has been kind to Schebler, and yes, he might be able to reproduce this production over the course of a full season. But the thing is, even if Schebler can replicate this, he hasn’t been all that much better than Duvall anyway who has already proven replication over a large sample size.
Schebler might be having the power surge of his life right now, but the Reds outfield next year likely consists of two low-power guys already, so it’s better to go with the guy you know can hit dingers than the one who had a hot streak.