So Long Greg Dobbs (Or, A Lesson in Small Sample Sizes)

As dajafi relays below, Greg Dobbs has been designated for assignment.  Based on his performance this year, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if he makes it through the waiver period and finds himself playing for the Iron Pigs in 10 days.  But, stranger things have happened, and he might be picked up by a major league team soon.

If he does, it certainly won't be on the basis of his 2010 performance.  Instead, it will be because some GM (Ed Wade maybe?) recalls his 2008 glory days, when he was a power threat off the bench and a good fill-in at third base when Pedro Feliz needed some time to ponder how difficult it is to get on base.

Any GM who hires Dobbs based on his pinch hitting ability in 2007 or 2008 is going to be in for a powerful lesson about small sample sizes.  The chart of Dobbs' career as a pinch hitter illustrates this perfectly:

PA HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS sOPS+
2005 26 0 5 0.250 0.269 0.375 0.644 97
2006 17 0 1 0.294 0.294 0.529 0.824 146
2007 57 2 18 0.292 0.386 0.521 0.907 173
2008 67 2 16 0.355 0.388 0.532 0.920 174
2009 60 1 4 0.167 0.250 0.241 0.491 48
2010 29 0 2 0.040 0.172 0.080 0.252 -20

sOPS+ compares Dobbs' OPS in a particular split (here, as a pinch hitter) compared to the rest of the league.  100 is average.  A number over 100 indicates better than average; a number below 100 indicates worse than average.

Obviously Dobbs had a few stellar years as a pinch hitter.  But, focusing on the OPS or sOPS+ columns is a big mistake.  The most important column here is the PA column.  In none of those years did he get more than 67 plate appearances as a pinch hitter.

To put this in perspective, 67 plate appearances is roughly how many plate appearances a regular gets in two weeks.  Think of how good, mediocre, or awful a regular, any regular, can be over the course of two weeks.  This is what we see with Dobbs in the chart above.

He's in the midst of a terrible stretch, and he may never recover his form.  But, with small sample sizes like these, what anyone gets from him going forward is a pure crapshoot.

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