Are Cubs getting the Byrd they want?

December, 31, 2009
12/31/09
2:59
PM ET
The Cub Reporter is underwhelmed by Marlon Byrd. Here's the money quote:

Byrd
    Byrd will be penciled in to play center field and if or when he proves he can't handle that on a regular basis, he'll be a perfectly adequate 4th outfielder and the Cubs will continue their center field quest. $5M a year is actually a decent price for Byrd, but depending on the structure of the deal, the final year will probably be impossible to unload when the Cubs realize they're paying a back-up outfielder $6-$8M or whatever it ends up to be.

    I gave my thoughts on Byrd earlier, but the cliff notes version is: decent offensive production for center fielder, terrifying home/road splits over the last 3 years including a major drop in power, walks way too little and at best an average center fielder.

    Feel the excitement.

Hey, somebody has to play center field. Otherwise you wind up with a lot of triples.

Before joining the Rangers three years ago, Byrd had been a pretty awful hitter: .263/.327/.373 in nearly 1,500 plate appearances. He hadn't been an awful player, because his defense was pretty good (especially when he played the corners). But there was little reason to believe he would thrive with the Rangers.

He has. In roughly the same number of plate appearances -- and mind you, after shifting to the tougher league -- Byrd's line with Texas is .295/.352/.468. He has become, according to those numbers, a good hitter.

Ah, but what about those "terrifying home/road splits"?

Home, 2007-2009: .309/.375/.522
Road, 2007-2009: .281/.328/.414

We can play around with those numbers for a while. We can note that players typically play somewhat better at home, and that Byrd's home ballpark for the past three seasons might be the hitter-friendliest in the American League, and that he's played a great number of road games in Seattle and Oakland, in parks that rank among the pitcher-friendliest. We might also note that we're still not talking about a huge sample size, and that when looking for Byrd's "true" home/road abilities -- if one could measure such a thing -- we would have to run some sort of regression.

He's probably better than his road stats with the Rangers. He's almost certainly not as good as his home stats. He's 32, but he's moving to the weaker league. If the Cubs think they're getting, for the next three seasons, the guy who slugged .468 over the past three seasons, they're going to be disappointed. But if they're looking for a guy who will give them decent value for their $15 million, they should be fine.

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