Willie Harris, Full Disclosure
Posted by JD on January 14, 2011
Adam Rubin of ESPN NY is reporting that Willie Harris will sign a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Harris has earned a reputation as a “Mets killer” over the past few seasons, not without justification. It started with this game in 2007, in which he caught a Moises Alou drive at the wall and robbed Carlos Delgado of a game tying home run. He would go on to make several high profile catches over the years, cementing his place as one of the Mets’ most hated opponents.
The thing is, he did his damage almost exclusively with his glove. His career slash line against the Mets (in 143 plate appearances) is .159/.319/.212. That .532 OPS translates into a 58 tOPS+, 32% lower than the average player who faced the Mets in those seasons. Here are his full splits against the Mets:
His career numbers aren’t much better: .239/.327/.352, 79 OPS+. According to Baseball Reference, he’s compiled 3.8 WAR over parts of 10 seasons. As a fourth outfielder who can play all three spots and pinch hit (well, kind of: .226/.325/.336 95 tOPS+ in 171 plate appearances), Harris could be a good fit, especially when you consider the fact that he’s only signed on a non-guaranteed minor league deal. There are worse options out there.
Harris is a complimentary piece that adds to the organization’s depth. Realistic expectations are the key here: just because he “killed” the Mets over the past few seasons, don’t expect him to be a game changer for them, especially at the plate. Providing steady glovework as a backup in the outfield is about what we should be looking for from Harris. Anything else is gravy.