Did some digging into the Fangraphs stats for our reported new veteran middle infielder, Jamey Carroll, formerly of the Dodgers/Indians/Rockies/Nationals/Expos. He's put up back-to-back solid years playing mostly full-time in L.A., but what can we expect out of his age-38 season playing in Minneapolis next year? Read on, you crazy diamonds, and we'll come up with some
wild informed speculation together.
Who is Jamey Carroll?
He's a relatively speedy (though not a base stealer) utility-type player who has played several positions to moderate success. Carroll has almost no power (career ISO .070) but his good on-base skills (career OBP .356) make his bat perfectly capable of keeping his glove on the field. Carroll is getting old, though, so let's take a look at the trends from the last few years to see how he's holding up in The Show.
At the Plate
Carroll has maintained good plate discipline throughout his career. In the last three seasons, he has walked in 10.1, 12.3, and 9.2 percent of his plate appearances respectively – very much in line with his 9.9% career mark. Meanwhile, his K rate has gone from 17.6% to 15.5% all the way down to 11.4%, dropping below his career 13.9% rate. Cutting strikeouts is not uncommon for players late in their careers, so it's not unreasonable to think that 11.4% from last year is closer to his true talent level moving forward.
As far as deeper pitch recognition goes, Carroll as swung at more pitches out of the zone (16.6/18.7/23.1 percent O-Swing over the last 3 years), but he's made better contact while doing so (75.2/82.7/85.8 percent O-Contact). He's also taking cuts at fewer pitches in the zone (48.0/51.4/41.0, career 55.0 Z-Swing%). Overall, his numbers haven't moved all that much, to be honest. Through his mid-30s, Carroll has continued to be who he is.
The one concern I always have about aging hitters is that as their bat speed slows down, they stop catching up to fastballs and have to cheat to get around on them, opening them up to abuse at the hands of anyone with a decent fastball. Carrol's never been an amazing fastball hitter according to Fangraphs' numbers (2.1 wFB over his whole career; season numbers have bounced all over the place), and appears to still be able to get around enough to hit Major League heat. I don't trust pitch type values all that much, to be frank -- Carroll, for instance, went from +6.4 runs versus fastballs in 2006 to -9.6 in 2007, both years with Colorado -- but I felt it was worth looking at for this specific possibility. According to the numbers, Carroll was fine against fastballs last year, and it's not like there's no quality heat being thrown in the NL West.
In the Field
I trust defensive numbers about as far as I could throw them if they were made out of Xbox taped together to look like numbers, but a cursory glance shows Carroll being average-ish at both middle infield positions. The fan scouting report agrees. Good enough for me; he'll almost certainly be way the hell better than Plouffe or [shudder] Nishioka.
Who He Is Appears To Be Who He Is
Nothing in the numbers suggests that the Twins are getting anything other than what it looks like superficially. There's a chance that Carroll's wheels will fall off at some point during a two-year Twins contract, like there would be for anyone you sign for their age 38 and 39 seasons, but he looks a heck of a lot more like a Luis Castillo than a Juan Castro at this point.