Monday, May 30, 2005


The psychology of being a fan affects our perception of 'our team' and 'our players'. We all have biases, and 'ownership bias' alters our valuation of players. All players have strengths and weaknesses, and intangibles including toughness and leadership.

One enigmatic player who has overachieved but continues to struggle with injuries is Christopher Trotman (Trot) Nixon. Nixon had a dual pedigree in football and baseball and came up slowly through the system, delayed by a fractured transverse process (a small bone off a vertebral body). He had a breakout season in 2003 and was beset by injury limiting his playing time in 2004, and continues to work around an unspecified knee injury.

A look at his three-year statistics (2002-2005) on reveals a lot. For the period he is hitting .366/.518/.884 with a .946 OPS against RHP and only .641 in 227 at bats against LHP. His home/road OPS splits are even .888/.881. He is a devastating hitter ahead in the count with OPS 1.094 on the first pitch, 1.291 at 1-0 and 1.042 at 2-0. He has also been a second half hitter, with OPS .862 before and .910 after the break.

Currently, he's at .316/.416/.529/.945, 5th in the league in OBP and 6th in the league in OPS.

I sometimes wonder about the possibility of converting Nixon to a first baseman, as his range (objectively his range factor) has steadily diminished and he has adequate corner power. Whether anyone in the organization has thought about this isn't clear.

Idle speculation. Longer-term, with Edgar Renteria at shortstop and Hanley Ramirez their top prospect at shortstop, this creates an outfield opportunity, and Ramirez has the athletic tools that could produce a superior outfielder. Johnny Damon's future with the club seems up in the air, and if Nixon could play first, that could create two openings in the outfield.

Neither Brandon Moss nor David Murphy seem close looking at their double A numbers (, and the Sox organization have been believers that minor league numbers are a harbinger of Major League production. Whether Chip Ambres (.326/.416/.553/13 SB) is considered a legitimate prospect or a AAAA player is unknown.

Nixon's production facing RHP makes him a force in the Sox lineup, and he also fits in well with the organizational philosophy of patience at the plate, as he is among the league leaders in pitches seen per at bat. His struggles against LHP and his leg injuries have reduced his defensive effectiveness, despite constant all-out effort that fans and teammates appreciate.

No comments: