Buck Equals Olivo?

On Wednesday I was listening to Sports Radio 810 WHB as I do every day I am in the office.  Most days when Between the Lines comes on I turn off the internet broadcast and enjoy the last several hours of my day without my headphones on.  I was about to turn it off as usual, when Kevin Kietzman and Danny Clinkscale started discussing John Buck and Miguel Olivo.  Their basic message was that John Buck and Miguel Olivo were basically the same player, except that Olivo runs better.  I was so shocked to hear such lunacy that I had to give myself a few days before I reacted so I could do so in a somewhat coherent and rational matter.

So here it is, three days later, my attempt to dispel the John Buck myth.  It is a myth widely held by many Royals fans.  It a myth that I once believed in until a fateful day when I went to the stats in an attempt to defend John Buck from one of my Buck-bashing friends.  I assumed his hatred was unfounded and I could easily bring him to the realization that John Buck is just fine as a starting Major League catcher.

Let’s start with offensive numbers of Miguel Olivo:

 

AB

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

2002

19

2

1

0

1

5

0

.211

.286

.421

84

2003

317

37

19

1

6

27

6

.237

.287

.360

68

2004

301

46

15

4

13

40

7

.233

.286

.439

86

2005

267

30

11

1

9

34

7

.217

.246

.367

64

2006

430

52

22

3

16

58

2

.263

.287

.440

87

2007

452

43

20

4

16

60

3

.237

.262

.405

72

2008

306

29

22

0

12

41

7

.255

.278

.444

91

Career

2092

239

110

13

73

265

32

.241

.275

.411

78

Next the offensive numbers of John Buck:

 

AB

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

2004

238

36

9

0

12

30

1

.235

.280

.424

79

2005

401

40

21

1

12

47

2

.242

.287

.389

79

2006

371

37

21

1

11

50

0

.245

.306

.396

80

2007

347

41

18

0

18

48

0

.222

.308

.429

90

2008

370

48

23

1

9

48

0

.224

.304

.365

79

Career

1727

202

92

3

62

223

5

.234

.298

.398

82

From the above, we see that Olivo has a slight advantage in career SLG and BA, he has hit a HR every 28.7 at bats, and has a significant advantage in terms of running ability.  Buck has a slight advantage in career OBP and he has hit a HR every 27.9 at bats.  Their career OPS+ numbers match up very well.  Looking at their career numbers, you would think that comments of Kietzman and Clinkscale were pretty much accurate.  However, when you look at 2008, the only year they were both with the Royals, there is a bit of separation.  While Buck holds the advantage in OBP by .026, Olivo’s advantage in SLG is 0.79 and his advantage in OPS+ is 12.  It could be just a matter of splitting hairs since they are relatively close, but Olivo is a better offensive player than John Buck. 

What a catcher does with his glove is at least every bit as important as what he does with the bat, so lets take a look at their defensive numbers.

Miguel Olivo:

 

FP

RF9

lgRF9

Inn

PB

SB

CS

CS%

CERA

2002

1.000

5.96

6.97

48.3

2

1

1

50.0

 

2003

.988

7.76

6.79

848

8

34

19

35.8

 

2004

.991

6.39

7.12

760.3

13

32

17

34.7

 

2005

.983

6.97

6.99

690

7

32

14

30.4

 

2006

.991

7.38

7.37

971.3

10

48

30

38.5

 

2007

.986

7.73

7.39

990.3

16

51

25

32.9

 

2008

.988

7.47

7.26

494.3

4

19

14

42.4

4.42

Career

.988

7.30

7.16

4802.7

60

217

120

35.6

 

John Buck:

 

FP

RF9

lgRF9

Inn

PB

SB

CS

CS%

CERA

2004

.992

6.10

7.12

575

6

30

14

31.8

 

2005

.996

6.40

6.80

976.7

3

60

31

34.1

 

2006

.991

6.31

7.09

930.3

5

33

17

34.0

 

2007

.989

7.07

7.28

924.3

3

44

12

21.4

 

2008

.990

7.34

7.26

950.3

4

59

12

16.9

4.55

Career

.991

6.69

7.11

4356.7

21

226

86

27.6

 

They are close in their fielding percentages, but their similarities end there.  First, Olivo holds a significant advantage in terms of range factor.  For his career he is 0.14 above league average (lgRF9), while John Buck for his career is 0.42 below league average.  Second, Olivo’s CS% is 8% better than John Buck’s CS%.  When you look at Buck’s downward trending numbers at throwing runners out and Olivo’s relatively consistent returns in throwing out runners there is no comparison between the two.  Finally, when you add Olivo’s CERA (catcher’s ERA) advantage of 0.13 it is no contest.

While they may be relatively similar with the bat in their hands, Olivo is far superior than John Buck behind the plate.  Both players are in the prime of their careers, Olivo is 30 and Buck is 28. 

Clinkscale and Kietzman can have John Buck.  I’ll take Miguel Olivo over him any day of the week and at the end of the season, my team will be the one with the better catcher, and more wins.

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