The Baltimore Orioles made it two days in a row with some news as they traded 3B Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals yesterday late afternoon in exchange for OF David Lough. There were several reasons that this trade was made by the Orioles and today we completely break it down for you.
Danny Valencia came on strong the latter half of the season last year for the Birds and ended up with very respectable numbers in 2013 with a .304 average, eight homers, 14 doubles and 23 RBI in 170 plate appearances. Pretty good numbers for just 170 plate appearances, but he also struck out 33 times and his on base percentage was just 31 points higher than his batting average at .335.
Lough too, was a spark plug for his team down the stretch and ended up playing 96 games with the Royals after being called up from AAA and hit .286 with five homers, 17 doubles and 33 RBI in 335 plate appearances. Much like Valencia, he has a little bit of an issue with the strikeout as he accrued 52 of them in 2013 and his plate discipline has not yet transferred to the big leagues as his .311 OBP was only 25 points points higher than his batting average. He also finished eighth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013.
So to the naked eye, the Orioles are losing a more powerful bat, for a left handed hitting outfielder with more speed, and doesn't really seem to be all that good of a trade for Baltimore.
Before we here at Orioles101 come to that conclusion, we wanted to dig a little deeper first.
Not that it makes a huge difference in this case, but Lough is a year and a half younger than Valencia and is under team control through the 2019 season, as opposed to Valencia who would be a free agent after the 2017 season.
If there is one thing Valencia could do very well, it was hit against left handed pitchers and many fans were upset about the trade yesterday for this reason alone. You cannot argue Valencia's success against lefties as he is a career .329 hitter with 12 homers, 63 RBI and a .367 OBP against the south paws, whereas against right handers he has hit .229 with 21 home runs, 93 RBI and a .269 OBP.
Valencia certainly has a track record of success against lefties, but greatly struggles against right handers. Lough, who has just a third of the plate appearances that Valencia has, is a much better all around hitter in that he hits right handers and left handers equally well. Lough has a career average of .277 with three homers, 16 doubles and a .307 on base percentage against right handers, while posting a .282 average with two homers, three doubles and a .312 OBP against left handers. Having a left handed hitter who can hit both righties and lefties equally is a valuable weapon to have.
We continue on. For the third year in a row, Baltimore selected a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, and this they selected 3B Michael Almanzar out of the Red Sox organization. By trading Valencia, it makes it much easier to keep Almanzar on the roster, as the team must in order to keep him in the organization. Believe it or not, this is a big influence in this trade for Baltimore.
We dive even deeper. Last season the Orioles hit .266 with runners in scoring position, which was eighth best in baseball, and both Valencia and Lough have higher career averages with runners in scoring position than the .266 Baltimore posted last season. Valencia is a career .272 hitter with runners in scoring position with 124 RBI in 331 career plate appearances, while Lough has posted a .281 average with 29 RBI in just 102 career plate appearances with runners in scoring position. If you were to give Lough 331 plate appearances, he would have roughly 90 RBI, which is lower than Valencia, but the higher average would almost certainly increase the RBI total a bit.
Our final deep stat analysis brings us to one of the most important when you look back on a season, and that is with runners in scoring position with two outs, as two out runs are extremely important to the success of a team. In 153 career plate appearances with runners in scoring position and two outs, Valencia has posted a .236 average with 48 RBI, while Lough has been absolutely phenomenal with a .362 average and 20 RBI in 53 career plate appearances. Yes, we are aware that 53 plate appearances is a pretty small sample size, but it is tough to argue those numbers.
Overall, as much as we like Valencia and what he gave the 2013 Orioles, we like this trade for Lough. He brings a left handed bat that can hit against both right handers and left handers, so you do not have to pick your matchups with him. He is a good hitter with runners in scoring position, and brings some speed to this team after the loss of Nate McLouth. Lough is under team control longer and is slightly cheaper than Valencia, and is a plus defender in the outfield. In 2013, Lough finished 9th in baseball with a +14.5 Ultimate Zone Rating among outfielders with at least 500 innings.
It may look bleak on the surface, but this is a trade that we can support here at Orioles101. What are your thoughts on the trade? Let the conversation ensue by posting a comment!
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