Tyler Greene Still Tremendously Tantalizing, But Still Terribly Troubling Too


You say he looks puzzled? Well of course he does. He can't figure himself out any more than the rest of us can. 
  • You say he looks puzzled? Well of course he does. He can't figure himself out any more than the rest of us can. 
I've written about Tyler Greene before; he's kind of a pet obsession of mine. Actually, not really an obsession; I don't care enough one way or the other to characterize it in that manner. But I will admit to finding him fascinating. 

Greene is an enigma, and as such invites far more speculation and debate than a player of his actual, real-world merits. And really, it isn't how good he is or isn't that engenders the debate; we can just head over to Fangraphs and get a quick, easy number to reflect his actual value. (For the record, Tyler is currently sitting on 0.2 wins above replacement for the season in 73 plate appearances.) 

No, the reason Tyler Greene is such an item of debate is because no matter how valuable he is or isn't, he just looks strange. He looks like he should be a much better player than he is, while simultaneously managing to look like he's actually a much worse player than he really is. Add it all up and you have a player that is endlessly fascinating, far beyond what his production should warrant. 

In the last two games, we've gotten to see exactly what it is that makes Tyler Greene so tantalizing. Against San Francisco last night, he was just 1-3, but his one hit was a double that led directly to a run. The game before, at home against the Cubs, Greene had a huge game, going 3-3, on base a fourth time with a walk, and nearly hit for the cycle, coming up a home run short. 

It was reminiscent of the game Greene had back on May 6 against the Astros, when he again went 3-for-3 with a walk, totaling ten bases on the day thanks to a pair of homers and a double. Oh, and he added a stolen base as well. 

Two of the biggest offensive games of the season, both out of the same enigmatic player, in less than a two-week span. It's almost like you need to keep the guy on the field and let him do his thing. 

Here's the problem, though: between those two 3-3 days in Houston and St. Louis, Greene went 1-for-19 in 5 games, striking out at least once in every game. His OPS dropped from .872 to .646. 

Now, you could look at those two good games and say, "Man, why isn't this guy better?" Or, you could watch him play the games in between and say, "Jesus, why in the hell is this guy even in the major leagues?" And, chances are, you probably fall into at least one of those two camps. 

Just as troubling are the continued defensive lapses. Greene can make difficult plays with no problem; the kinds of plays that make your jaw drop open that any player actually managed to pull off what you just saw. But routine grounders? Well, those are a different story. He usually managed to make the play, but every once in a while... It's all feast or famine, brilliance or bumbling. 

The power, and the speed, are both remarkable, and allow him to be a valuable contributor at times. The empty swings, though, and mental lapses, are still problematic. His contact skills are never going to be good enough to allow him to hit for a high average, but the extra-base threat he brings every at-bat cannot be ignored. 

Here's the thing: Tyler Greene, in aggregate, has actually been a pretty good player this season. He's currently sporting a nifty .772 OPS, good for an OPS+ of 107. That's right; taken altogether Tyler's offensive production this year is above league average. And not above league average for a shortstop or second baseman; above league average period. Tyler Greene, as hard as it may be for some people to believe, has been an above average hitter this year. 

Do I expect the debates about Tyler Greene to stop, just because I can tell you that overall he's actually been a pretty good hitter? No, I don't. And maybe that's why I still pay attention to him. 

He may not be great, but he also isn't awful. He's pretty good. But even so, he creates more questions, and offers fewer answers, than any other pretty good player I've ever seen. 

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