Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Return of the Mayor

(Originally posted July 22, 2012)

With Joey Votto recovering from surgery, and the Reds in need of some offense, and especially some left-handed-hitting offense, there's been talk around town (well, on 700 WLW, mainly) of the Reds signing Sean Casey.  A lifetime .302 hitter, Casey was the Reds' starting first baseman from 1998-2005, and following stints with the Pirates, Tigers, and Red Sox, retired after the 2008 season at age 34.  The beloved Casey has since been working as a broadcaster, and is a 2012 inductee into the Reds Hall of Fame.  Although I doubt the sincerity of the radio personalities who are pining for his return (Tracy Jones especially), the so-called justification for believing Casey could still contribute is Jim Thome (who blocked Casey at first base on the Cleveland Indians, before Casey was traded to Cincy for Dave Burba the day before the start of the '98 season).  Thome, of course, is 41 (42 in five weeks) and is still getting it done.  Since the start of the 2011 season, he has been to the plate 453 times, and is batting .256 with 22 homeruns, 70 rbi, and a .358 on-base percentage.  Casey, meanwhile, just turned 38 on July 2.

Casey has been out of the game for four years now, and any talk of him returning is probably just that. Still, I thought it would be fun to try and project what Casey's numbers would be if he did return to action in 2012. And the basis for this experiment will be the prototype for aging first basemen: Mr. Thome himself. Leaving out Casey's cup of coffee with the '97 Indians, where he went 2-for-10, here are Casey's career numbers:

Years     Ages  G    AB   R   H    2B  3B HR  RBI SB BA   OBP  SLG  OPS  GDP
1998-2008 23-33 1399 5056 689 1529 322 12 130 734 18 .302 .367 .448 .815 156

Casey's playing days lasted from the age of 23 to age 33. Here are Jim Thome's numbers at the same age range:

Years     Ages  G    AB   R    H    2B  3B HR  RBI  SB BA   OBP  SLG  OPS  GDP
1994-2004 23-33 1565 5357 1082 1535 299 21 413 1120 13 .287 .415 .581 .997 91

Sean Casey's baseball age this year is 37 (your baseball age is your age on June 30). Here is how Thome performed at age 37:

Year Age G   AB  R  H   2B 3B HR RBI SB BA   OBP  SLG  OPS  GDP
2008 37  149 503 93 123 28  0 34  90  1 .245 .362 .503 .865  17

It follows then, in this simple experiment, that if we divide Casey's career numbers by Thome's, and multiply it by Thome's numbers at age 37, that we should be able to extrapolate 2012 statistics for Sean Casey. Well I did just that:

Year Age G   AB  R  H   2B 3B HR RBI SB BA   OBP  SLG  OPS  GDP
2012 37  133 475 59 123 30  0 11  59  1 .258 .318 .388 .705  29

Remember, this projection assumes that Sean Casey is in shape and been playing every season, not retired since 2008. That aside, if a tuned-up Casey were to play in 133 games this season, these numbers seem fairly realistic to me. Especially the 29 double plays.

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