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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bellone: Travis d’Arnaud is off to the worst start I have ever seen

So when I look at Travis d’Arnaud, the prized prospect the Mets acquired by trading R.A. Dickey, and think about how his lack of performance at the plate stacks up against the myriad poor performers that my favorite baseball team, the Mets, have put before me, I am considering a historical reference of about twenty years, dating back to 1994. And I can say, with some certainty, that d’Arnaud has been the least exciting, worst hitting, prospect I have ever seen.

Travis d’Arnaud has an OPS+ of 57 through 70 games in the big leagues. He is only 25, having appeared in a mere 257 plate appearances. Obviously, both traditionalists and sabermetricians alike would scream for sample size. ‘Let’s see how he looks over 1,000 plate appearances’, we could say. While that is fair, it doesn’t overlook the fact that in those first 70 games, he has been downright awful. The worst. And if we want to consider how often a player starts their career as slow as d’Arnaud and still turns into a good hitter, we have a starting point by his age and limited plate appearances.

Before we consider how d’Arnaud compares historically across baseball, let’s keep our focus on the Mets. Why don’t I remember a player starting as poorly as d’Arnaud in my lifetime? Well, because literally no Mets player with at least 250 plate appearances by their age-25 season has had as bad of a start at the plate since 1994.

...Travis d’Arnaud is a catcher; we shouldn’t overlook the fact that he has done completely the opposite of what the scouting reports suggested he would do. As bad as he has been swinging the bat, he has been as good framing pitches for the Mets’ staff. There is definite value to a catcher who is defensively sound, but that is not what d’Arnaud was brought to New York to do; he would have to be a defensive genius to justify his meager offense.

After batting .180 on the season, with three home runs and nine RBIs, having played, essentially, everyday, the Mets were forced to send d’Arnaud back to the minors (where he has found some recent success). Having watched him play most of those days, I can tell you that he is one of the least exciting prospects I have ever seen. It turns out the numbers back that up.

Thanks to VY.

Repoz Posted: June 14, 2014 at 10:06 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mets, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4725781)
With a name like that, he should be a Musketeer, not a catcher
   2. Toolsy McClutch Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4725786)
I'm sure the Jays would un-do the Dickey deal, if the Mets were interested.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4725787)
I'm sure the Jays would un-do the Dickey deal, if the Mets were interested.


Would they? They're in the running for their first playoff appearance in 20 years and I think that would be their top priority.
   4. bobm Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4725788)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1961 to 2014, From Age 24 to 25, Played 50% of games at C, (requiring PA<=600 and At least 200 plate appearances), sorted by smallest Adjusted OPS+

                                                        
Rk                   Player OPS+  PA From   To   Age   G
1              Josh Phegley   41 213 2013 2013 25-25  65
2               J.R. Towles   41 224 2008 2009 24-25  70
3                Dan Wilson   45 391 1993 1994 24-25 127
4              Chad Kreuter   47 224 1989 1990 24-25 109
5              Gerald Laird   48 210 2004 2005 24-25  62
6              Brandon Inge   49 553 2001 2002 24-25 174
7              Mike Matheny   49 522 1995 1996 24-25 186
8            Ryan Lavarnway   51 248 2012 2013 24-25  71
9               Luis Pujols   52 366 1980 1981 24-25 118
10              Ken Rudolph   53 202 1971 1972 24-25  67
11           Kirt Manwaring   55 212 1990 1991 24-25  75
12                Jeff Reed   55 523 1987 1988 24-25 167
13        Dennis Littlejohn   55 260 1979 1980 24-25  76
14          John Stephenson   56 284 1965 1966 24-25 125
15           Travis dArnaud   57 257 2013 2014 24-25  70
16           Sandy Martinez   58 451 1995 1996 24-25 138
17            Andy Allanson   58 496 1986 1987 24-25 151
18              Jeff Mathis   59 523 2007 2008 24-25 153
19           Jorge Fabregas   60 383 1994 1995 24-25 116
20              Mark Bailey   60 257 1986 1987 24-25  92
21              Brent Mayne   61 456 1992 1993 24-25 153
22             Jeff Torborg   61 346 1966 1967 24-25 122
23               Lou Marson   63 566 2010 2011 24-25 166
24        Choo-Choo Coleman   63 443 1962 1963 24-25 161
25           Johnny Estrada   64 324 2001 2001 25-25  89
Rk                   Player OPS+  PA From   To   Age   G
26            Raul Casanova   64 382 1997 1998 24-25 117
27            Scott Servais   64 269 1991 1992 24-25  93
28             Jerry Narron   65 347 1980 1981 24-25 124
29               Duffy Dyer   65 355 1970 1971 24-25 118
30             Pat Corrales   65 286 1965 1966 24-25  91
31                Ron Brand   65 420 1965 1965 25-25 117
32             John Marzano   66 212 1987 1988 24-25  62
33                Tom Nieto   66 360 1985 1986 24-25 125
34            Steve Nicosia   66 385 1980 1981 24-25 114
35                Phil Roof   66 502 1965 1966 24-25 179
36               Bob Melvin   67 554 1986 1987 24-25 173
37          Duane Josephson   68 240 1966 1967 24-25  73
38             Alex Trevino   69 588 1982 1983 24-25 194
39               Rick Sweet   69 259 1978 1978 25-25  88
40    Jarrod Saltalamacchia   70 340 2009 2010 24-25  96
41             Chris Snyder   70 586 2005 2006 24-25 176
42          Darrin Fletcher   70 386 1991 1992 24-25 129
43          Mike LaValliere   70 394 1985 1986 24-25 122
44             Joel Skinner   70 386 1985 1986 24-25 136
45            Gary Allenson   70 356 1979 1980 24-25 144
46             Dick Bertell   70 287 1961 1961 25-25  92
47             Mark Johnson   72 462 2000 2001 24-25 136
48             Chris Turner   72 249 1993 1994 24-25  83
49          Dann Bilardello   72 526 1983 1984 24-25 177
50              Matt LeCroy   73 232 2000 2001 24-25  71
Rk                   Player OPS+  PA From   To   Age   G
51              Barry Foote   74 456 1976 1977 24-25 138
52                Marc Hill   74 510 1976 1977 24-25 162
53                 Milt May   74 445 1975 1976 24-25 117
54             Mike Brumley   74 473 1964 1964 25-25 136
55           Devin Mesoraco   75 536 2012 2013 24-25 157
56             Steve Decker   75 314 1990 1991 24-25  94
57               Fran Healy   75 221 1971 1972 24-25  92
58             Jeff Clement   76 224 2008 2008 24-24  66
59                Josh Bard   76 425 2002 2003 24-25 115
60            Ron Karkovice   76 329 1988 1989 24-25 117
61                Tony Cruz   77 203 2011 2012 24-25  89
62               JD Closser   77 396 2004 2005 24-25 128
63               Ron Hodges   78 300 1973 1974 24-25 104
64              Brad Ausmus   79 533 1993 1994 24-25 150
65            Biff Pocoroba   79 373 1978 1979 24-25 120
66           Kelly Stinnett   80 398 1994 1995 24-25 124
67              Ben Petrick   81 388 2001 2002 24-25 123
68         Yorvit Torrealba   82 417 2003 2004 24-25 130
69               Jim Essian   82 231 1975 1976 24-25  80
70              Jerry Moses   82 350 1971 1972 24-25 121
71         Carlos Hernandez   83 206 1991 1992 24-25  84
72              Tim Laudner   83 527 1982 1983 24-25 155
73               Gregg Zaun   84 280 1995 1996 24-25 100
74          Mike Macfarlane   84 403 1988 1989 24-25 139
75           Bill Nahorodny   84 579 1978 1979 24-25 172
Rk                   Player OPS+  PA From   To   Age   G
76           J.P. Arencibia   88 523 2010 2011 24-25 140
77             Nick Hundley   88 505 2008 2009 24-25 138
78             Mike Stanley   88 545 1987 1988 24-25 172
79       Francisco Cervelli   89 454 2010 2011 24-25 136
80                 Tom Egan   89 509 1970 1971 24-25 164
81              Larry Haney   90 261 1967 1968 24-25  96
82             Jorge Posada   91 239 1996 1997 24-25  68
83              Randy Knorr   91 248 1993 1994 24-25  79
84           Darren Daulton   91 331 1986 1987 24-25 102
85          Mike Fitzgerald   91 584 1985 1986 24-25 181
86         Martin Maldonado   92 257 2011 2012 24-25  81
87         Taylor Teagarden   92 271 2008 2009 24-25  76
88          Yasmani Grandal   93 247 2013 2014 24-25  74
89         Andy Etchebarren   93 588 1967 1968 24-25 186
90              Bob Tillman   93 273 1962 1962 25-25  81
91              Hank Conger   94 277 2012 2013 24-25  99
92             John Russell   94 582 1985 1986 24-25 174
93       Welington Castillo   95 203 2011 2012 24-25  56
94                   Ed Ott   95 390 1976 1977 24-25 131
95             Ed Taubensee   96 517 1993 1994 24-25 160
96            Ronny Paulino   97 486 2005 2006 24-25 131
97                Duke Sims   98 281 1965 1966 24-25 100
98              Billy Bryan   98 314 1963 1964 24-25 117
99             Jason Castro   99 295 2012 2012 25-25  87
100            Rick Wilkins   99 509 1991 1992 24-25 169
Rk                   Player OPS+  PA From   To   Age   G
101               Toby Hall  100 209 2000 2001 24-25  53
102        Mickey Tettleton  100 508 1985 1986 24-25 168
103          Bill Schroeder  101 305 1983 1984 24-25  84
104          Salvador Perez  103 236 2014 2014 24-24  57
105        Manny Sanguillen  106 481 1969 1969 25-25 129
106           Merritt Ranew  106 405 1962 1963 24-25 149
107         Brian Schneider  108 280 2001 2002 24-25 100
108         Bobby Estalella  108 383 1999 2000 24-25 115
109          Jim Pagliaroni  108 597 1962 1963 24-25 182
110             Mike Napoli  109 588 2006 2007 24-25 174
111            Wilson Ramos  110 399 2012 2013 24-25 103
112            Steve Yeager  111 508 1973 1974 24-25 148
113              Dan Graham  112 290 1979 1980 24-25  88
114           Mike Scioscia  113 439 1983 1984 24-25 126
115             Gene Tenace  113 469 1971 1972 24-25 147
116               Yan Gomes  116 433 2012 2013 24-25 131
117         Frank Fernandez  122 203 1967 1968 24-25  60
118              Tom Haller  122 405 1961 1962 24-25 129
119         Terry Steinbach  123 454 1986 1987 24-25 128
120            Derek Norris  125 483 2013 2014 24-25 150
121            Josmil Pinto  125 241 2013 2014 24-25  64
122             John Orsino  126 484 1962 1963 24-25 134


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/14/2014.
   5. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4725793)
With a name like that, he should be a Musketeer, not a catcher

I love the Twitter handle "Grand Theft d'Arnaud."
   6. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: June 14, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4725809)
"Her name is Mrs. d'Arnaud, and she likes me."
   7. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: June 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4725832)
Upvoted, RMc...
   8. Walt Davis Posted: June 14, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4726128)
Of the Cs in that list, the ones worse than d'Arnaud who were supposed to hit (that I recall) are Towles and Lavarnway (who still could). It is sort of impressive how few of the guys in the "top" half of that list ever did hit. But I'll assume most of them never really hit in the minors.
   9. Bug Selig Posted: June 14, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4726281)
I like it when John Orsino is the best something.
   10. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 14, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4726307)
Wherein we learn that Primate "Bug Selig" is actually John Orsino's mom.
   11. Rob_Wood Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4726395)
Sounds like Ray Oyler's rookie season in the mid-1960s.
   12. bobm Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:22 PM (#4726408)
[11] Not bad. A little older, but 58 OPS+ in 217 PA / 82 G at a skilled defense position

                                                                  
Year   Age  Tm Lg  G  PA  AB HR RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+   Pos
1965    26 DET AL 82 217 194  5  13 .186 .265 .294 .559   58 64/35
   13. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:59 AM (#4726483)
Hits the ball softer than anyone I've ever seen™
   14. Toolsy McClutch Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4726497)
I'd trade Dickey for Noah Syndergaard straight up at this point, RA has been super ordinary.
   15. Good cripple hitter Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4726510)
I'd trade Dickey for Noah Syndergaard straight up at this point, RA has been super ordinary.


At this point? You'd trade a league average starter for a (top) prospect who's on the DL with an elbow strain, while the Jays are legitimately in the playoff picture?

I know Dickey isn't the pitcher the Jays hoped for, but (assuming the groin issues from yesterday isn't serious) he absolutely is the pitcher the Jays need right now. The Jays absolutely need a pitcher who can throw 100 more average innings. The rotation is filled with guys who have a good shot of imploding, Dickey probably won't. I know it's not sexy, I know he's not the kind of pitcher who should be starting game 1 of a (theoretical) playoff series, but the team needs someone who can dependably give them 6 or more innings, rest the bullpen and keep the rotation from completely melting down.

If the team wasn't in contention, the team would be in a position to trade Dickey and talk about what a disappointment he's been. But right now? No, never. This is a golden opportunity for the Blue Jays and they need every solid arm they can get.
   16. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: June 15, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4726691)
[15] Syndergaard is no longer on the DL, nor has he had an elbow strain.
   17. Matt Welch Posted: June 15, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4726718)
And Jeff Mathis hasn't gotten any better (career OPS+ down to 54 now), yet he's got a decade under his belt now, and (remarkably) a positive number in the WAR ledger.
   18. Good cripple hitter Posted: June 15, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4726721)

[15] Syndergaard is no longer on the DL, nor has he had an elbow strain.

Sure he is. That's unrelated to the elbow thing that struck last month, but he's on the 7 day DL, scheduled to come off tomorrow.

As for the elbow injury, I was going off of this "a mild flexor-pronator strain in his right elbow. The flexor-pronator muscle is on the inside of the elbow, forearm area." Later stories (which I hadn't read), said his MRI came back clean.
   19. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: June 15, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4726726)
You meant a prospect who is not hurt, coming off the DL tomorrow, and was not on the DL for an elbow strain?
   20. Greg K Posted: June 15, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4726731)
You guys are both crazy. I'd only reverse the trade with the Mets if they could give us John Buck back, but seeing as they've lost him, it's all academic.
   21. PreservedFish Posted: June 15, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4726811)
You'd trade a league average starter for a (top) prospect who's on the DL with an elbow strain


Can we all just agree to stop saying "league average?" Let's just say "average" from now on.
   22. Benji Posted: June 16, 2014 at 01:54 AM (#4727085)
Fortunately, the author only goes back to 1994, so he was spared the wondrous Don Bosch experience. He was as overhyped as d'Arnaud was. I can still remember the "plays center like Mays" and "so fast he can bunt .300" comments that dominated the 1966-67 offseason. Look up his numbers if you want to see offensive futility.
   23. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4727131)
I don't expect to ever see a prospect play worse for a longer time than Brandon Phillips's .208/.242/.311 (48 OPS+) line in 393 PA as a 22-year-old.

The entire Indians infield got injured that year, and it got bad enough that Zach Sorensen (who hit .239/.299/.353 in AAA that year) made it into 36 MLB games.

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