Wait, what?

The Dodgers designated Bobby Abreu for assignment today to make room for Shane Victorino, recently acquired in a deadline trade with the Phillies. The Dodgers gave up two relievers, Lindblom and Martin, for Victorino, and dump Abreu from the team so Victorino can play left and bat leadoff. Is this a good decision?

Victorino’s splits so far this year are .258/.321/.396 for an OPS of .717. These numbers are a bit below his career numbers, but at 31 years old, it’s not a given that he’ll ever reach those modest heights again.

Now for Abreu. He sits at .251/.359/.341 for an OPS of .700. These numbers are also well below his career averages, and at 38, it’s obvious he’ll never be the great player he was in his prime.

Abreu’s power is gone, there’s no doubt Victorino has the small edge here, Victorino has better speed, will steal way more bases, and while I have no idea if it’s true, he’s just got to be a better defensive left-fielder. But Abreu’s OBP is almost forty points higher this season, and (and this is the interesting point) twenty points higher than Victornio’s career mark. Simply put, Abreu gets on base a lot more than Victorino. In fact, Abreu gets on base more than any other Dodger except for Matt Kemp and A.J. Ellis, who rank 2nd and 8th in the National League respectively in this category.

So the Dodgers, after the wretched embarrassment of batting Dee Gordon leadoff for most of the season, have decided to get rid of a player who gets on base 36% of the time, 40 points better than the MLB average, for a player who does it at a 32% clip. Worse, they’re batting the guy who is .01 better than the league average in OBP in the leadoff spot, likely giving him the most at bats on the team for the rest of the season, more than the following players:

Mark Ellis
Matt Kemp
Andre Ethier
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
A.J. Ellis
Hanley Ramirez

What do these 6 key players for L.A. have in common? They’re all better than Victorino at getting on base, the single most important aspect of hitting leadoff, of hitting, really.

So congratulations to the Dodgers, who decided to dump Abreu, a player who excels at the single most important job of an offensive player, and in the process gave up multiple pitchers, all for the privelege of taking on Victorino, a player who is the very definition of league average. Taking everything Victorino does better than Abreu into account, maybe this doesn’t make the Dodgers worse, but it’s hard to see how it makes them better.

And for the love of all that is baseball, would someone call Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Manager Don Mattingly and explain to them the concept of on-base percentage? I’d do it myself, but they have my number on file from some previous misunderstandings.

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