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Pedro Feliz – Prodigious Out Making Machine
(Part 3)

by Richard Van Zandt, BaseballEvolution.com
February 25, 2007

Part1 | Part2 | Part3

 

9/11 and the Aging of Pedro Feliz

 

At the time of his signing, Feliz was a high-ceiling 17-year-old who reportedly held promise of 30-35 HR potential.  Given his youthful age, the Giants felt no need to rush Feliz along.  Of course, his production through his minor league years certainly didn’t give the team any reason to, either.  But, as the reasoning went, he was still young.

 

Minor Leagues

Age

Lev

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

1994

17

Rk

38

119

7

23

0

0

0

3

2

20

1995

18

A-

43

113

14

31

2

1

0

16

7

33

1996

19

A

93

321

36

85

12

2

5

36

18

65

1997

20

A+

135

515

59

140

25

4

14

56

23

90

1998*

21

AA

103

371

40

99

24

2

13

53

10

62

1999

22

AA

131

491

52

124

24

6

13

77

19

90

Total

 

 

543

1930

208

502

87

15

45

241

79

360

 

Minor Leagues

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

AB/K

AB/BB

AB/ABB

1994

0.193

0.220

0.193

0.413

-----

5.95

59.50

59.50

1995

0.274

0.311

0.310

0.621

-----

3.42

16.14

16.14

1996

0.265

0.303

0.361

0.665

64.20

4.94

17.83

17.83

1997

0.272

0.310

0.417

0.728

36.79

5.72

22.39

22.39

1998*

0.267

0.287

0.447

0.734

28.54

5.98

37.10

37.10

1999

0.253

0.282

0.405

0.687

37.77

5.46

25.84

25.84

Total

0.260

0.292

0.391

0.683

42.89

5.36

24.43

24.43

*Played 3 games at AAA (3-for-7, 1 HR, 3 RBI)

 

It wasn’t until the 2000 season at Triple-A Fresno that Feliz began to really show any of that promise at all.

 

Minor Leagues

Age

Lev

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2000

23

AAA

128

503

85

150

34

2

33

105

30

94

 

Minor Leagues

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

AB/K

AB/BB

AB/ABB

2000

0.298

0.337

0.571

0.908

15.24

5.35

16.77

19.35

 

That breakthrough season, coupled with that supposed potential, was all the Giants' brass needed to latch onto the hope that Feliz would become the Giants' first successful homegrown position player since Bill Mueller (drafted in the 15th round in 1993).  He was promoted to the majors that September (2-for-7 in his brief debut you’ll recall) and made the club the following spring, sharing 3B duties with Russ Davis and Ramon Martinez (Feliz started 51 games, Davis 46 and Martinez 63).  Offensive success did not immediately follow for Pedro in his rookie campaign.

 

Feliz

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2001

94

238

220

23

50

9

1

7

22

10

50

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

2001

0.227

0.264

0.373

0.637

31.43

4.76

23.80

29.75

0.76

 

Defensively, he wasn’t much better either, committing 12 errors and logging a .908 fielding percentage (vs. a .950 league average), while his range factor of 1.38 fell well off the league pace of 2.17.

 

That September of course, marked the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which in turn led to increased scrutiny of all foreign nationals trying to enter the country.  As a result, that winter and the following spring, the practice of “de-aging” Latin players – using fake birth certificates or those of younger family members – was exposed and consequently many players from Latin countries were found to be generally 2-3 years older than previously believed.  Among those “de-aged” was our hero Feliz who began the 2001 season as a 24-year-old future prospect.   On April 27, 2002, Pedro Feliz turned 27 and his days as a future prospect were suddenly behind him.

 

The Career of Pedro Feliz, His Faithful Followers, and Their Excuses

 

Feliz’ poor performance as a rookie in 2001 left Sabean (who to say the least – and to put it mildly – has an obvious preference for experience) unwilling to hand him the everyday third base job, so instead the Giants acquired David Bell from Seattle to play 3B, leaving Feliz on the bench to back him up.  Bell went on to play a crucial role with the team as the they came agonizingly close to winning the World Series, while Feliz again struggled mightily, hitting just 2 HR in 146 AB while slugging only .336 in his second big league season. 

 

Feliz

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2002

153

146

14

37

4

1

2

13

6

27

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

2002

0.253

0.281

0.336

0.617

73.00

5.67

25.50

30.60

0.73

 

That winter, Bell left for Philadelphia via free agency.  Sabean, rather than take a chance on the unproven and thus far unproductive Feliz, signed Edgardo Alfonzo to play third.  The move became a rallying cry for the Feliz Faithful. By bringing in the overweight and overpriced Alfonzo, Sabean was stunting Feliz’ progress, it was said, by once again relegating him to a backup role.  Given my own disdain towards Alfonzo, I can’t say I disagreed with them at the time.

 

The 2003 season brought the Giants a new manager in Felipe Alou who had replaced Dusty Baker after Baker and the team parted ways following the Series.  Feliz was quick to impress his new boss by going 4-for-6 in his first start of the season, prompting Alou to look for new ways to get Feliz’ promising bat into the lineup. This happened despite Feliz following up his big game by going just 2-for-22 with 1 BB and a .130 OBP over his next 16 games including 11 PH appearances. 

 

On May 23, the skipper found the opportunity he’d been looking for when he sent Feliz in to pinch-run for an injured Barry Bonds and then kept him in the game to play left field.  It was just his second career appearance in the outfield.  Feliz then homered in his next at bat. 

 

“He needs at-bats,” Alou told reporters after the game.  “He's got a young bat.  He's got some power.  He's been working hard, hitting the ball hard in batting practice. When the opportunities open for him, I like to get him in there.”  Feliz started two of the next three games and finished the third in left field, while Bonds sat out.  He homered in both games he started, and out of that experience, a new role for Feliz was born.  Pedro was to become a jack-of-many-trades utility player (which of course, as you can guess, would lead to another excuse).

 

Feliz

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2003

249

235

31

58

9

3

16

48

10

53

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

2003

0.247

0.278

0.515

0.793

14.69

4.70

24.90

24.90

0.76

 

Pedro finished the 2003 season by belting 16 HR in under 250 PA (1 every 14.69 AB) while slugging a career high .515 and posting a career high OPS of .793 (this in spite of his lowly .278 OBP which resulted in an astoundingly horrible ratio of O/PA of 76%).  And he showed his versatility by playing 14 games in left field, another 12 at 1B and 49 (28 starts) at his natural position, third base.  All in all it was a tantalizing glimpse of his supposed potential.

 

Meanwhile Alfonzo recorded an un-impressive line of .259/.334/.391/.725 and saw his range factor dip as his mobility decreased due to his increasing weight and bad back.  The combination of those factors had Giants fans clamoring for Feliz to see more playing time.  Sure Feliz had his flaws as a hitter (some of the by now already glaring) but – as the excuse most often went – he just wasn’t getting a chance to play everyday. 

 

In 2004, prompted by this glimmer of hope, Alou did his very best to insert Feliz into the lineup as often as possible and as a result Pedro wound up playing 51 games at 3B and another 70 at 1B.  He even logged 20 games (14 starts) at shortstop (.929 F% vs. .973 Lg Avg and 3.25 RF vs. 3.94 Lg Avg).  One place he actually didn’t see much time at in 2004 was the OF, where he played just 4 games (2 in LF and 2 in RF). 

 

Feliz

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2004

144

531

503

72

139

33

3

22

84

23

85

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

2004

0.276

0.305

0.485

0.790

22.86

6.25

23.09

24.14

0.73

 

All told, Pedro tallied 531 PA for San Francisco in 144 games – both third on the club – and put together his “finest” major league season by recording a career high OBP of .305 (insert sarcastic congratulatory exclamation here) and hitting 22 HR, also a career high (which he tied – woo hoo – in ’06).   Once again, there were obvious flaws.  But given his improvement, was he possibly on the verge of turning the corner and having a breakout season?

 

Despite his modest improvements over the past two seasons (and a new two-year contract worth over $6 million), Feliz still faced entering the 2005 season as a multi-positional backup.  Alfonzo was entering the third year of his four-year contract, due to make $7.5 million while also coming off his best season yet as a Giant – .289/.350/.407/.757, 11 HR, 77 RBI and a 2.59 RF vs. 2.35 Lg. Ave.  The Giants could simply not afford to have that kind of money riding the pine nor did they have any clear reason to simply bench him either, so once again it looked likely that the team would have to find spots for Feliz to play, creating another excuse for his supporters. 

 

Like a flock of Ostrich with their heads buried in the sand, the faithful didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that Feliz continued to put up somewhat lackluster numbers despite finally getting to play on a regular basis.  Pedro, they now maintained, could not become a consistent major league hitter so long as he didn’t have an everyday position. 

 

However, despite Alfonzo continuing to block his path at 3B, the Giants found a way in 2005 to get Feliz into the opening day lineup when Barry Bonds’ thrice surgically repaired knee forced him to the disabled list.  Bonds’ balky knee, of course, would allow him to play just 14 games that season (all in September) and consequently, Feliz began the season as the Giants starting left fielder.  In fact, Feliz was in left field to begin each of the team’s first 19 games, and got off to a pretty good start.

 

Feliz - 2005

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

4/5 - 4/25

77

17

23

4

1

3

16

6

11

0.299

0.341

0.494

0.835

 

At the same time, Alfonzo raised the hopes of all Giants fans by getting off to an impossibly good start.

 

Alfonzo - 2005

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

4/5 - 4/20

51

13

23

5

0

2

10

9

3

0.451

0.532

0.667

1.199

 

However both players cooled off considerably from that point on, especially Alfonzo, who slugged just .293 after April 20 (in fact, Alfonzo’s last career home run was in the Giants fourth game of that season). 

 

Alfonzo - 2005

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

4/21 – 10/2

317

23

79

12

1

0

33

18

31

0.249

0.289

0.293

0.582

 

Feliz - 2005

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

4/26 - 10/2

492

52

119

26

3

17

65

32

91

0.242

0.287

0.411

0.698

 

In the end, it was more of the same at the plate from Sir-Swing-And-Miss-A-Lot, despite his leading the team in games played and plate appearances.  And even though Pedro drew walks at an astounding (for him) rate in ‘05, his OBP still slipped back to .295, and he created outs in 74% of his plate appearances.  On top of that, his slugging percentage plunged over 60 points from the previous year and his OPS of .717 ranked well below the league average of .744.  It was a big step backwards for Feliz, and by now a pattern of mediocrity (at best) had clearly emerged. 

 

Feliz

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

Final 2005

156

615

569

69

142

30

4

20

81

38

102

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

Final 2005

0.250

0.295

0.422

0.717

28.45

6.03

16.18

16.62

0.74

 

By playing more games and logging more PA than any other Giant over the previous two seasons, most Feliz backers by now had to admit that he had gotten a chance to play.  The focus of the excuse shifted instead to his lack of an everyday position.  Feliz’ struggles in ’05, it was said, were directly attributable to his shifting continually between third base and left field (as well as occasionally seeing time at first), and now what Feliz needed – indeed what they felt he was owed by the Giants – was an everyday job at one position.

 

And perhaps they were right.  Perhaps though the team might have been better off had Alou just kept Feliz in left field.

 

Feliz

G

PA

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

First Base

91

346

327

78

17

2

15

50

16

59

Third Base

436

1579

1480

374

81

10

51

212

74

279

Short Stop

21

67

63

18

2

0

6

15

4

10

Left Field

89

342

315

82

12

3

16

56

21

53

* 2 PA as RF, 1 as DH, 100 as PH

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

First Base

0.239

0.272

0.440

0.712

21.80

5.86

21.63

23.07

Third Base

0.253

0.287

0.424

0.712

29.02

5.66

21.34

23.92

Short Stop

0.286

0.328

0.603

0.932

10.50

6.70

16.75

16.75

Left Field

0.260

0.304

0.470

0.774

19.69

6.45

16.29

16.29

 

Excluding his limited time at SS, Feliz has produced his best offensive statistics as a left fielder.  Of course, the Giants knew that Bonds would be back in ’06 and held out hope that he would return before the end of ’05, so Pedro clearly had no future as a left fielder in San Francisco.  That’s why when Alfonzo struggled badly after his scorching hot start, Alou gave Feliz every opportunity to wrestle away the 3B job from Edgardo, giving Feliz the start in 27 of the team’s last 37 games at the hot corner and 13 of the final 16. 

 

Feliz- 2005

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

8/22 - 10/2

35

126

119

7

21

6

2

2

10

5

27

 

Feliz- 2005

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

8/22 - 10/2

0.176

0.208

0.311

0.519

59.50

4.67

25.20

25.20

 

No More Excuses

 

“(M)ake no mistake, this year is key to Feliz’ future with the club.  The Giants have waited a long time to see him reach his potential.  He will be 31 in April.  The future for Feliz is now.  He will need to produce the type of numbers the team has long expected or the ’06 season will likely be his last with the team.”

Richard Van Zandt, BaseballEvolution – March 2006

 

That winter, Alfonzo (thankfully) was traded to the Angels for Steve Finley and in 2006.  For the first time, Pedro Feliz would play everyday at the same position, despite his woeful performance in his ’05 audition.  The Feliz faithful finally had what they wanted, but would it be enough for Feliz to finally produce? 

 

It was certainly possible that the faithful were right and that the security and comfort level of playing the same position everyday could provide the springboard to success that Pedro’s career needed.  I doubted it, personally, and didn’t hold out much hope in a break from the pattern of out making he had set for himself the past five seasons.  Nevertheless, for better or worse, Feliz was going to finally get his chance as an everyday third baseman.  Without a doubt in my mind, Pedro entered the 2006 season with no more excuses.  It was time to produce or to get out of town.

 

Feliz

G

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

2006

160

644

603

75

147

35

5

22

98

33

112

 

Feliz

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

PA/K

PA/BB

PA/ABB

% O/PA

2006

0.244

0.281

0.428

0.709

27.41

5.75

19.52

22.21

0.75

 

By now, though, we already know how this story ends.  Pedro once again led the team in games and PA, and even did it while playing 96% of his team’s total innings at 3B – 1372.1 out of 1429.2.  He played everyday at one position, and yet his offensive numbers still were worse in ’06 than in ‘05.  

 

Pedro’s 2006 season was marked by an historically low OBP, a high rate of both outs/PA and AB/K, a low rate of both AB/HR and AB/BB, hot & cold streaks with his cold streaks generally lasting even longer than in previous years (Feliz had three separate cold streaks – BA’s of .224, .169 and .162 – with 70 or more PA for the first time in his career),  miserable second half numbers, and on top of all that, over 40% of his RBI were collected in less than 50 PA while in cherry picking situations. 

 

And yet Brian Sabean re-signed him – with a raise!  It’s simply beyond me, and I admit I was quite looking forward to seeing the door hit him on the way out. Instead of progressing, Feliz is constantly regressing.

 

Or maybe perhaps pitchers are just simply figuring him out.  It seems clear that they do that the more they face him.  His 89 career HR, for instance, have been hit against 79 different pitchers, and no pitcher has ever allowed as many as 3 HR to Feliz.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me?  It would seem so.

 

Feliz unmistakably does not fare well against experience.  The more a pitcher gets to know Pedro, or the more experienced the pitcher is, the worse Feliz tends to do.  Feliz has at least 20 AB against nine different pitchers, and with the exception of David Wells, he has not fared well with the increased exposure (while against Wells he’s a .300 lifetime hitter, with just one fewer hit, that would drop to just .250).

 

Pedro Feliz vs Pitcher Matchups

Career

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

Jake Peavy

31

7

2

0

1

1

7

0.226

0.250

0.387

0.637

Randy Johnson

27

6

2

0

0

0

10

0.222

0.222

0.296

0.519

Odalis Perez

27

4

1

0

0

1

5

0.148

0.179

0.185

0.364

Brandon Webb

26

5

2

0

0

3

8

0.192

0.267

0.269

0.536

Brad Penny

25

3

2

0

0

1

8

0.120

0.154

0.200

0.354

Jeff Francis

24

5

1

1

1

1

3

0.208

0.231

0.458

0.689

Aaron Cook

22

5

0

0

0

1

3

0.227

0.261

0.227

0.488

Jeff Weaver

21

5

1

0

1

0

2

0.238

0.227

0.429

0.656

David Wells

20

6

1

0

1

0

1

0.300

0.300

0.500

0.800

 Total

223

46

12

1

4

8

47

0.206

0.231

0.323

0.554

 

Career

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

K

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

Randy Johnson

27

6

2

0

0

0

10

0.222

0.222

0.296

0.519

David Wells

20

6

1

0

1

0

1

0.300

0.300

0.500

0.800

Greg Maddux

16

3

0

0

1

0

3

0.188

0.188

0.375

0.563

Trevor Hoffman

16

4

0

0

1

1

0

0.250

0.278

0.438

0.715

Roger Clemens

13

2

0

0

0

0

4

0.154

0.154

0.154

0.308

Curt Schilling

11

1

0

0

0

0

6

0.091

0.091

0.091

0.182

John Smoltz

10

2

1

0

1

0

3

0.200

0.182

0.600

0.782

Tom Glavine

9

1

0

0

0

3

3

0.111

0.333

0.111

0.444

 

122

25

4

0

4

4

30

0.205

0.227

0.336

0.563

 

What Can We Expect in 2007?

 

How does all this bode for the upcoming year?  Can Feliz finally break out and produce this season?  Can he finally have the kind of year we’ve been promised for so long?  His long track record clearly says no, and if his 2006 winter ball stats are any indication, Giants fans are in for more of the same free swinging, undisciplined hitter we’ve seen all along.

 

2006 Winter Ball

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

Gigantes del Cibao

24

96

7

21

4

0

2

17

2

19

 

2006 Winter Ball

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

AB/K

AB/BB

AB/ABB

Gigantes del Cibao

0.219

0.252

0.323

0.575

48.00

5.05

48.00

48.00

 

I have longed my whole life to see the Giants win a World Championship (with the bitter, lingering pain of 2002 serving only to increase the hunger).   I am a Giants fan through and through, and come opening day I’ll be pulling for Pedro Feliz 100% with all my heart and soul.  I just won’t be at all surprised if he proves once again that he is nothing more than an inconsistent, cherry picking, prodigious out making machine.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Richard resides in San Francisco, California and can be reached at richard@baseballevolution.com.

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