Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Sign of the Apocalypse

No it's not frogs raining from the sky or the 4 horsemen come to kill everyone, its Vernon Wells finally earning some of the $15,687,500 that he is being paid this season.  As of the writing of this article Wells' numbers look like this: 

27 Home Runs 77 RBI  71 Runs .272/.326/.523/.849  (that's AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS)

Those are pretty decent numbers and the Jays still have roughly 30 games to play so they can only improve.  I didn't believe them at first so I had to do a little digging and you know what I discovered?  Not only is Vernon Wells having a decent year, he is having one of the best years of any center fielder in baseball.

Here are his rankings among CFs in both the AL and NL:

Runs (14th but only 9 runs back of 5th place)
Hits (Tied for 8th)
Doubles (2nd)
Home Runs (2nd)
RBI (4th)
Batting Average (10th)
OBP (13th)
Slugging (2nd)
OPS (4th)

Not bad for a guy that many people consider to be one of the most overpaid players in all of baseball.  Yes he still gets paid way too much money but at least he is starting to earn it this year unlike last year when he was just 'Big Fat Vernon' filling up a roster spot and going through the motions.  So what changed in Vernon to make him bring back his 2004 form?

I personally believe that Vernon has taken more of a leadership role on this young team and he realizes that he has to lead by example.  In the past it always seemed like the Jays leadership came from its pitching staff as guys like Roy Halladay put the team on their back and tried to carry them to victory.  Now it's Wells turn and along with Jose Bautista he is doing a decent job.  He seems more involved in the games and in the dugout he is much more active than in the past.

Wells return in power could also be contributed to him being healthy.  Last season Wells suffered from various injuries including wrist, hip and shoulder injuries that really hindered him at the plate.  Now he is healthy and using the Dwayne Murphy philosophy of swinging for the fences and it's hard to argue with the results.

Back to Wells' salary vs his production.  He is the 22nd highest paid player in baseball but considering the other names on that list and the production, or lack there of they provide, his salary looks less and less ridiculous.  Here are some of the guys that make more than Wells and produce less (Keep in mind Wells makes $15 million):

Derek Jeter -  $22.6 million - inferior to Wells in every major category except stolen bases

Carlos Beltran - $19.4 million - last 2 years thrown away due to injuries 

Carlos Lee - $19 million - Only beats Wells in RBI and total Baconators consumed

Alfonso Soriano - $19 million - Power numbers on track with Wells but worse average & god awful defense

Carlos Zambrano - $18.75 million - 7-6 rcord with an ERA of 4.23, point for Wells

John Lackey - $18.7 million - 12-9 with an ERA of 4.48, 12 wins aren't bad but I give it to Wells

Manny Ramirez - $18 million - if he would stay healthy he would be better, toddlers play better defense

Barry Zito - $18 million - 8-11 with a 4.18 ERA, possibly the worst contract in MLB

Todd Helton - $17.75 million - .249 6 HR 28 RBI, plus he runs the bases like a complete jackass

Aramis Ramirez - $17 million - power numbers right there with Wells but his average is 29 points lower

AJ Burnett - $16.5 million - 10-13 with an ERA of 5.15, pitching for the Yankees I could put up 10 wins

When you look at that list and see all the guys with stupid contracts that don't produce it makes the $15 million cap hit from Wells a little easier to take.  Plus unlike most of the guys up there Wells can play defense and has won Gold Gloves in the past and may be in the discussion again this year.

I know it's hard to believe but Vernon Wells may not be overrated anymore.  With Jose Bautista getting all the attention Wells has quietly put together a nice season and hopefully all the Jays fans out there he can continue to do so.

Random YouTube Video (Apparently there is an actor named Vernon Wells, who knew?)

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