Tagged: Brad Hawpe

Hawpe Leaps to San Diego

By R.J. Anderson //

Replacing Adrian Gonzalez’s production is nearly impossible, because the population of ballplayers who can hit like him is limited. Replacing Adrian Gonzalez’s body at first base is not as difficult, since just about any player can play first. With newly-acquired first base prospect Anthony Rizzo not yet ready for the big leagues, the Padres took a step to sure up their first base vacancy over the holiday weekend by signing Brad Hawpe.

What Hawpe does is this: He walks (12.9% career, 12.1% last year), usually hits for power (four straight seasons of 20-plus home runs until last season), and strikes out a lot (career 26.8%, 28.5% last season). What Hawpe does not do is field. That’s less of an issue with a move from the corner outfield to first base (and a non-issue in fantasy), but something to keep in mind nonetheless, as Hawpe attempts to adjust to the new position full-time, for the first time in his career.

The biggest difference between last year and the ones before was Hawpe’s home run per flyball percentage. In 2010, it plunged to 10.5%; from 2007 to 2009, it ranged from 17.6% and 17.9%. His career average is 16%.

The biggest obstacle for a Hawpe comeback is his home park. Petco Park is extremely pitcher-friendly, and it’s notoriously difficult on left-handed sluggers like Hawpe (which amplified Gonzalez’s accomplishments even more).

At least Hawpe is guaranteed the lion’s share of playing time at first base, but don’t necessarily bank on 600-to-650 plate appearances. The National League West is loaded with southpaws, and the Padres might add a right-handed option at first base too to form a platoon, or at least a semi-platoon. Late-inning pinch-hit appearances by right-handed bats are also possible.  

Hawpe is unlikely to reach his career slash line of .279/.373/.490, but he has a chance to top last season’s meager .245/.338/.419. From a fantasy perspective, though, he’s still a batting average risk, and expecting a bunch of home runs in that park is asking a lot. Draft Hawpe in NL-only and deep mixed league, but stay away in standard, 12-team mixed formats.

Hawpe in St. Pete

By R.J. Anderson //

In a purely subjective sense, Brad Hawpe is the tailor-made contrast between fantasy and real world baseball values. Hawpe’s talent cavities have always included rambunctious defensive play – even on the quietest of balls – and an inability to hit as well on the road as he did at home. This leaves a general manager – particularly one in the National League – in the awkward position. Choosing to either hang onto Hawpe with the hope that he’ll steal Rickey Henderson’s legs or explaining to the ownership and media why he couldn’t recoup the standard fare for hitters with Hawpe’s numbers through a trade.

Dan O’Dowd held onto Hawpe for seasons but recently decided to release him. On Friday, Hawpe found a new home. The Tampa Bay Rays signed the southpaw to a minor league deal with the idea that he will eventually come up within the week and take over as the left-handed designated hitter. Is Hawpe worth the fee to acquire him in American League only leagues? Maybe.

Most starting pitchers are right-handed, meaning Hawpe may receive 60-65% of the Rays’ designated hitter plate appearances in September. Throughout Hawpe’s career, his line versus righties is a robust .290/.387/.507 with 94 home runs in 2,452 plate appearances. The concern is not over whether Hawpe has hit, though, but rather will he continue to hit now that he is out of Coors Field and into the American League East. Since both franchises are relatively new, the amount of players with significant playing time with both is limited.

Nevertheless, here is a table detailing how those players performed after trading their Coors for a glass of Tropicana’s finest:


The only player to improve both his batting average and AB/HR is Greg Norton. One has to suspect starting, even if only as a designated hitter, had to be an easier role for Norton to stay fresh and focused than coming off the bench in a pinch hitter role. Suffice to say that history is not on Hawpe’s side and those odds are only worsened when expanding the scope beyond the Rays and onto the entire American League East. Garret Atkins is the most recent case of failure and the last success story might be Mark Bellhorn way back in 2004 – and make note that Bellhorn’s abbreviated Colorado performance was Coors-worthy for an entirely different reason.

The Rays will stick with him despite going 0-4 with four strikeouts in his debut.  A streak of such ineptitude just means that someone is likely to break it. The odds are just too great. Just please, please do not make a “Hawpe and pray” joke if you decide to add him.

For more on Brad Hawpe and other late season additions, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.