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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'm an avid sports and movie fan, and I love statistical analysis of almost anything.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Kids Aren't All Right

It isn’t news that the Blue Jays bats have been decimated by injuries this season (as have the arms, of course). And it isn’t news that the youngsters they’ve brought up to fill the void have played poorly.

How poorly?

Adeiny Hechavarria

In 37 plate appearances he has 5 hits and 1 walk, with 0 home runs, 1 run and 2 runs batted in. His .156/.200/.219 (batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage) is hilariously bad. Mind you, he’s obviously an amazing fielder, so his bat and base running won’t have to be anything more than average in order for him to provide value as a SS. At 23 years of age, he has time to develop his hitting, but it looks like he has a long way to go towards that end.

Yan Gomes

.165/.225/.316 triple slash. That’s horrible. At least he has 3 home runs in 90 plate appearances, so if he can hone his eye and cut WAY down on his strikeouts (29 already, wow) he could be a legit 20 home run threat in a full season of play. But a 5.6% walk rate and 32.2% strikeout rate is not major league material. He’s 25 years of age, and that’s already a bit old to expect significant development. He seems like a classic quad-A player (not quite major league, but good enough to call up once in a while).

Anthony Gose

Supposed to be the Jays’ top prospect, he has looked hilariously overmatched at the plate. Striking out 34 times in 88 plate appearances is crazy bad. Adam Dunn doesn’t even strike out at that clip, and Gose is NOT the power hitter Adam Dunn is. He appears to be a very good base runner, and the speed that allows him to be that also makes him a solid defensive player, but if he can’t control the whiffs, he won’t be able to cut it in the major leagues. He just turned 22, so there’s plenty of time, but he needs more seasoning in AAA, and looks to be at least a year or two away from contributing meaningfully to the big club.

David Cooper

Cooper can’t field, and can’t run the bases, which are both big issues if you want to make your career playing baseball professionally. Being as poor a fielder at 1B as David Cooper seems almost impossible, so I’m assuming he’ll improve, but yikes does he struggle there. Cooper can hit, just not for much power, and at 25 years old that power had better show up in the next year or so otherwise it almost certainly won’t. That is an issue for a guy who wants to (has to) play first base (1B). However, his .300/.324/.464 line so far is very good, and despite the lack of prototypical power, his bat would play in the Jays lineup as it stands. Of course, that’s in only 145 plate appearances, and it takes at least 550 to draw relevant conclusions, but his approach seems sound and his swing is quiet and he hits lots of line drives (29.7% this season, 24.9% career, 20% is roughly average) and a decent amount of fly balls (45.2% career). If he can beef up his power a little and get up to the 10% HR/FB range, which is only slightly better than league average, he could absolutely be a 20 home run hitter. His 4.9% walk rate at the major league level isn’t good, but he’s shown much better discipline in the minors, and I expect that number will rise if he’s given more opportunity to hit. I’d rather have him at 1B or DH than Adam Lind, because I think he’s a better hitter and can learn to be as good a fielder (Lind is no stud out there either), but the Jays have committed money to Lind and are probably going to be stubborn, which pisses me off because it’s flawed logic, but what can I do? I’m just a guy, writing a blog, that a few dozen people read regularly…

Moises Sierra

He’s had 51 plate appearances and walked twice against 10 strikeouts, but he seems to have decent power and if/when he starts elevating it instead of pounding it into the ground he could be a real power threat. In the minors he showed above-average home run power, but that was in the hitter-haven Pacific Coast League. Sierra’s only 23 and his power should continue to develop, as will the plate discipline (hopefully). But he almost certainly won’t have a .405 Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) to rely on to drive his performance. His poor fielding and base running demand a very good bat in order to generate even average value, and it’s going to take some big steps forward in his plate discipline for that to happen.

So overall the kids haven’t been very good, save for Cooper’s solid hitting and Sierra’s luck on balls in play. Otherwise, they’ve either shown that hitting at this level will be a struggle for them (Hechavarria and Gose) or fielding and base running will be (David Cooper and Moises Sierra) or all will be tough for them (Yan Gomes). Only Cooper has shown a skillset that looks like it will translate into being a solid hitter, however he plays a position (poorly) that demands more out of his bat. Gose and Hechavarria don’t need to hit much thanks to their premium fielding spots and skills, but they do need to be non-negative values at the plate, and so far that looks like it’s going to be a lot to ask.

Nobody can predict the future, and I’m working with limited sample sizes, but it would’ve been nice to see at least one of them enjoy success in his first go around with the big club (a la Brett Lawrie).

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully they'll spend more time in the minors to hone their skills, they're in over their heads