Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Off-Season Acquisition: Micah Owings

With FanFriarFest behind us and pitchers/catchers reporting in less than a week, let's take a look at the Padres off-season acquisitions, working backwards.

More Power Than Mark Kotsay...
On 2 Feb the Padres signed Micah Owings to a one-year deal for a million dollars.  Owings is currently on the 40-man roster.

Owings started 64 games his first three years in the league, but the last two years has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen.  He has pitched better as a reliever, holding hitters to a .220/.338/.369 line and a .262 BABIP (compared to .264/.341/.442, .282 as a starter).  He is relatively tough against right-handed hitters (.712 OPS, 2.31 K/BB ratio), but lefties eat him up (.830 OPS, 1.20 K/BB ratio).

Owings throws a cutter, and it's a weapon.  Last season it had the highest linear weight of any pitch he threw (3.3).  His slider (0.8) was the only other pitch with a positive value.  He gets clubbed when he throws a straight fastball, and he knows it, which is why he only throws it ~3% of the time.

If Owings makes the team I would envision him as a guy who eats innings when the Padres trail or lead by 3 or more runs, and facing a part of the order without lefties or switch hitters.

The intriguing part of this signing is Owings' bat.  Assuming the Padres devise a way to get Carlos Quentin, Jesus Guzman, Yonder Alonso, and Chase Headley in the lineup together on a recurring basis, they project to be thin on the bench.  Check this out:

Career ISO.
  • Mark Kotsay:  .132
  • Logan Forsythe:  .073
  • Chris Denorfia:  .124
  • Will Venable:  .161
  • Jeff Baker:  .130
  • Micah Owings:  .222
There you go.  Why I love statistics, and why small sample sizes will kill you, in one succinct 6-man list.  That list also partially explains why the Padres won't give up on Venable. Lack of at-bats aside (Owings has 203 in his major league career), Micah is a pinch-hitting option late in games based on the big stick he can swing.

Will Owings break camp with the Padres?  That remains to be seen.  Only Street, Gregerson, Thatcher, and Cashner are assured slots in the bullpen on Opening Day.  Frieri, Spence, and Bass have a leg up but I'm guessing they'll be fighting for a roster spot.  If Owings can get hitters out consistently he'll make the club, and his bat can be a wild card for Bud Black to play during games.

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