Resurrecting The Quadrinity–The Hitters

Quick: Has Abraham Almonte caught on with a Major League team, and if so which one? No peeking. (If your counter-question is “who’s Abraham Almonte?”, then you have our permission to peek, but we like to think we know our readers, and we like to think that, for our readers, “Abraham Almonte” is as familiar a name as Mike Trout or Volodymyr Zelenskyy.)

The answer to our question, happily for all of us Abraham Almonte fans (which we actually are, for an assortment of reasons), is that he’s a non-roster invitee of the Milwaukee Brewers. This is, frankly, not a comfortable spot for him to have landed in, since the Brewers are so deep in organizational-depth outfielders that he may have trouble making even the AAA roster. But if the Brewers jettison him, we figure another team will pick him up, and that—just as the Braves did last season—New Team X will find a way to use him in the majors.

And why do we care at all? You already know the answer: because Almonte, incredibly enough for someone who hit .216/.331/.399, qualifies for the Hitter Quadrinity. If you read last week’s article, you’re familiar with the concept as it applies to pitchers: We look for guys with better than average K%, BB%, Hard-Hit %, and Soft-Hit %. We do exactly the same thing with exactly the same metrics for hitters, except upside-down.  And each year, this approach turns up not just the guys you’d figure it would, but some unexpected hitters who are relatively cheap and wind up outperforming their projections. Of whom the most unexpected this year is Almonte.

Second most unexpected is perhaps Jed Lowrie, even though he’s made the Quadrinity before. He’s “unexpected,” at least for us, in the sense that we’d completely forgotten about him now that he’s an unsigned free agent, even though he played 139 games for the A’s last season.  Lowrie turns 38 this year, and his glove has become a liability, but he’s still a professional hitter, and is bound to catch on somewhere and get some at-bats.

Here, then, is a complete list of this season’s Quadrinitarians. The numbers in parentheses are NFBC Average Auction values. (There were, as you might have guessed, no takers at auction for Lowrie or Almonte, though Lowrie has gotten considerable reserve-round attention in deeper leagues): Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($42), Kyle Tucker ($37), Mookie Betts ($34), Paul Goldschmidt ($23), Marcus Semien ($22), Will Smith ($21), Corey Seager ($19), Jose Abreu ($18), Bryan Reynolds ($17), Yasmani Grandal ($13), Josh Bell ($11), Justin Turner ($8), Josh Donaldson ($6), Max Muncy ($6), Michael Conforto ($5), Jesus Aguilar ($2), and Yandy Diaz (no takers, though we regard him as well worth $1).

One of the oddities of the Hitter Quadrinity every year is that, even though there are only about 20 guys in it, you can assemble from among them, as an interesting exercise, an entire faintly plausible, marginally affordable 14-man hitting roster or very close to it. And so it is this season:

  • C Grandal
  • C  Smith
  • 1B Aguilar
  • 2B Muncy
  • 3B Donaldson
  • SS Seager
  • CI Turner
  • MI Semien
  • OF Hernandez
  • OF Reynolds
  • OF Conforto
  • OF Betts
  • OF Tucker
  • UT Diaz

That crew will cost you $202, which we grant you is ”affordable” only in the technical sense. But that’s because we’re a bit short on inexpensive outfielders this year. Substitute a cheap(ish) non-Quadrinitarian outfielder for Tucker and you’re probably well within your budget. Or, assuming no one in her right mind pays $34 for two catchers, substitute a $1 guy for Smith and achieve the same result.

Are we actually suggesting that you do this? No, of course not, though if you have sufficient nerve to do it, we applaud you, especially if you use last week’s article to put together an all-Quadrinitarian team, in which case we look forward to an end-of-season report. The big problem with Quadrinitarian hitters in the aggregate is that they lack speed. This is to be expected: you’re already trying to identify undervalued players who draw walks and don’t strike out and hit the ball hard. Add “steal bases” to the laundry list and you’re drafting superstars. But what we do suggest, because it seems to be an effective strategy, is that you regard most of these guys as somewhat underpriced, and bid or draft accordingly. And if you play in a really deep league, don’t forget Almonte.

The Birchwood Brothers are two guys with the improbable surname of Smirlock. Michael, the younger brother, brings his skills as a former Professor of Economics to bear on baseball statistics. Dan, the older brother, brings his skills as a former college English professor and recently-retired lawyer to bear on his brother's delphic mutterings. They seek to delight and instruct. They tweet when the spirit moves them @birchwoodbroth2.

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gawd_damn catapultmember
8 months ago

Conforto looks to be one of the buys of the year if he lands on a good squad.