One of the biggest opportunities to upgrade the current Mariners roster is at the utility spot. Current utility man Andrew Romine has not impressed and is hardly used as it is.
Today, the Milwaukee Brewer released utility infielder Eric Sogard. So, naturally, Mariners fans should ask the question: is he better than Andrew Romine. The answer is: probably. Glancing at either players 2018 stats are enough to vomit.
Romine is slashing .203/.253/.216 in 83 plate appearances for the Mariners. That is good for a wRC+ of 34. Even worse, Romine has struck out 25 times in his 83 appearances, while walking just 4 times.
That’s pretty bad, right? Well believe it or not, Eric Sogard has been even worse in 2018. In 113 plate apperances Sogard is slashing .134/.241/.165 which is good a 13 wRC+. Yeah that’s not a typo. 13!
So in what way is Sogard an upgrade over Romine. Well a look at the career of Sogard should make this abundently clear. Sogard is runnin a career slash of .238/.309/.314, all slightly better than Romine.
In addition, Sogard owns a career 8.5% BB rate and 13.1% K rate. Meanwhile, Romine has a career 6.2% BB rate and 21.4% K rate. In addition, it was just one year ago that Sogard posted a .273/.393/.378, good for a 108 wRC+.
In all reality, Sogard is at least a slightly better hitter than Romine. Perhaps Romine is the better defender. Well let’s look at the metrics. This comes with the obvious caveat that defensive metrics are flawed to say the least.
Using metrics like UZR/150 and defensive runs saved (DRS), the metrics show Romine as a good defender at SS, 2B, and in the OF. Meanwhile, Sogard grades out well at 2B and about average at SS.
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Sogard has almost no experience in the outfield. However, with the Marinerse employing 4 quality outfielders already, and with backup catcher Chris Herrmann ability to play some OF, this skill is really negated for the Mariners.
Both players are smart base-runners who can be used in pinch running opportunites later in the game. However, these duties would almost always go to whichever OF starts the day on the bench, so this ability isn’t as relevant at the moment.
At the end of the day, this discussion really comes down to what type of player the Mariners want on their bench. If they want the better defender, they should stick with Romine. If they want a better bat off the bench, they should go after Sogard.
We have covered a number of utility options on this site. From Derek Dietrich to Asdrubal Cabrera. The Mariners cannot address all their holes by the trade deadline. And while these type of moves are not exciting, getting incrementally better in several spots can add up to another win or 2 down the stretch. These opportunities matter.