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Monday, April 22, 2013

Berg: Six guys set to become MLB stars

Ted Berg’s new jernt at USA Today…For The Win.

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Wheeler ranked No. 11 in Baseball America‘s annual list of the Top 100 prospects after a strong 2012 campaign across Double- and Triple-A. Wheeler throws a fastball in the mid-90s with good movement and a strong curveball.

In his way: Right now, Wheeler’s control is likely the biggest obstacle preventing him from the Majors. He has allowed 28 free passes in only 51 1/3 Triple-A innings across 2012 and 2013. Mets manager Terry Collins recently told reporters that high-walk outings from Wheeler in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League are “a red flag.” With Johan Santana likely out for the season after a second shoulder surgery, the Mets have used righty Jeremy Hefner and lefty Aaron Laffey in the back of their rotation. Both pitchers have ERAs over 7.00.

Trivia: The Mets got Wheeler in a July, 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants. Beltran’s contract came with the clause that he could not be offered arbitration after its final year, meaning the acquiring Giants did not receive draft-pick compensation when Beltran signed with the Cardinals in the offseason — foreshadowing a new feature of the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement.

Random Internet find: Wheeler does not lack for control with his pumpkin-carving knife:

 

Repoz Posted: April 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4422333)
I would love to see the Mets have a rotation of Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Rafael Montero, and Gee by the end of the season.

Montero's stats have been nothing short of superb in AA. He doesn't have the upside of Wheeler from what I've read on the internet but he seems pretty polished already.
   2. Mark S. is bored Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4422349)
Montero has 22 innings above A ball and he's not on the 40 man roster. With the 40 man roster issues the Mets have already, I wouldn't count on him popping up this season (similar to how Wheeler didn't come up last season).
   3. Steve N Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4422377)
Folks seem to be very high on Billy Hamilton. (The new one, not the HOFer.) Unless he is stellar in CF I don't see it. He can run but I see little evidence that he can hit. Maybe impact in fantasy but I don't see him sticking.
   4. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4422404)
Ya'll forgot Jason Heyward.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4422429)
Folks seem to be very high on Billy Hamilton. (The new one, not the HOFer.) Unless he is stellar in CF I don't see it. He can run but I see little evidence that he can hit. Maybe impact in fantasy but I don't see him sticking


I think it's more about how exciting and fun he will be to see play. If he puts up an ops+ of 90-100 and plays average defense he will be seen as a superstar by a lot of fans because of how he will change the game.

And if he succeeds enough while the Reds are winning, then it might even change the way teams look at their base stealing ways...and before we know it, Whitey Herzog comes out of retirement, astroturf is added to all the stadiums, powder blue uniforms become all the rage and Lionel Ritchie becomes the walk up/entrance music for everybody. (except Brandon McCarthy who gets Richard Marx) he'll have had a bigger impact on baseball than Jackie Robinson or Babe Ruth.
   6. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4422441)
Unless he is stellar in CF I don't see it. He can run but I see little evidence that he can hit.


He has a career minor league OBP of .361 (last year .400) and blazing speed. His speed means he can be stellar in CF, and combined with a good OBP means he can be a plus offensive CF, if he does both he should be a perennial all-star CF.

He has no power but hitting isn't offense, its just one component. He's an outlier who gets the most out of the other components.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4422450)
He has a career minor league OBP of .361 (last year .400) and blazing speed. His speed means he can be stellar in CF, and combined with a good OBP means he can be a plus offensive CF, if he does both he should be a perennial all-star CF.

He has no power but hitting isn't offense, its just one component. He's an outlier who gets the most out of the other components.


I think he K's too much to utilize his speed well. I also think the BB-rate will collapse in the bigs if he has no power.

For his style to work he needs to almost never strike out, have a BABIP on .350+ and hit .330. Last year he had a .371 BABIP, yet only hit .286.

   8. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4422460)
I think he K's too much to utilize his speed well. I also think the BB-rate will collapse in the bigs if he has no power.

For his style to work he needs to almost never strike out, have a BABIP on .350+ and hit .330. Last year he had a .371 BABIP, yet only hit .286.


Yeah, I've seen guys with good speed, good plate discipline and no power have solid careers (Brett Butler, Mark McLemore), but they didn't strike out a ton. Are there any slap hitters who drew lots of walks while whiffing a bunch?
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4422467)
Are there any slap hitters who drew lots of walks while whiffing a bunch?


Vince Coleman....not a lot of walks, but for the first half of his career his obp was .060 better than his average.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4422469)
Yeah, I've seen guys with good speed, good plate discipline and no power have solid careers (Brett Butler, Mark McLemore), but they didn't strike out a ton. Are there any slap hitters who drew lots of walks while whiffing a bunch?

Brett Gardner is the closest I can think of. But, he had a better ratio of BB% to K% in the minors, and a bit more power than Hamilton.

He's also managed to defy the odds by maintaining his BB%, K% and ISO while moving to MLB. And he still relies on awesome defense to make him a good player.

Hamilton either needs to cut down the K's or become a plus defensive CF to be really valuable.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4422475)
I also think the BB-rate will collapse in the bigs if he has no power.


Has anyone studied whether walk rates decline more for low-power hitters than high-power hitters once they reach the majors? My presumption would be that there's no difference - drawing walks is more of a skill than it is a result of pitchers' fear - but I really don't know.
   12. Steve N Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4422481)
I know I've seen that studied somewhere but can't remember where. My often faulty memory says that the player must maintian a high batting average or the walks will disappear.
   13. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4422484)
Hamilton seems to be a variant on Bip Roberts -- lots of Ks, solid walks, very good speed, bouncing between the infield and outfield. Hamilton is faster and seems to have a better arm, so maybe he'll be better. But this sort of player lives on a knife-edge; Bip Roberts minus 10 points of BA becomes a pretty mediocre player.

(EDIT: On looking back, Bip didn't K as much as I thought he did. So maybe Hamilton is Bip Roberts plus speed plus Ks, which lessens the power of the comparison.)

Bip was a Rule 5 draftee and so spent his age-22 season hitting like crap in San Diego, instead of hitting like crap in AAA as Hamilton is at the moment.

EDIT: Also, a while ago I looked at players with an ISO
   14. Brian Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:02 PM (#4422490)
This when a team should, IMO, keep a young pitcher like Wheeler in AA just to avoid the PCL. I think the spike in his walks isn't a sudden loss of control as much as a justified aversion to allowing hitters to ever get a bat on a pitch in the majority of PCL parks. Keep him in AA and let him dominate and then bring him up for the second half in NY.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4422492)
My question is why does Hamilton K so much if he has a decent eye (high BB%)?

It would seem either his approach is terrible, and he swings way too hard when behind in the count, or his eye is not that good, and he's only walking because of shitty mLB pitchers.
   16. The Good Face Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4422514)
Brett Gardner is the closest I can think of. But, he had a better ratio of BB% to K% in the minors, and a bit more power than Hamilton.


Delino DeShields has a case too, although he broke 10 HRs a few times and while he led the league in Ks once, he only had 3 seasons over 100Ks, despite playing almost his entire career in the Sillyball era.

Vince Coleman....not a lot of walks, but for the first half of his career his obp was .060 better than his average.


Good call, early career Coleman K'd a lot for his era and drew a reasonable number of walks. If he'd actually been a plus defender, he'd have been a pretty valuable player over his first 6 seasons. I guess Vince Coleman with good D at CF is the best case scenario for Hamilton? That's a nice player to have.
   17. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4422527)
I would love to see the Mets have a rotation of Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Rafael Montero, and Gee by the end of the season.


I've heard that on those rare occasions that Steve Matz is able to throw the ball without immediately clutching some part of his arm in agony, he has the best raw stuff in the organization, drafted in 2009 his career k/9 is 10.9... of course he's managed a grand total of 43 innings since being drafted 4 years ago.

   18. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4422537)
I had completely forgotten about Matz and he has looked good so far this year. I hope he can stay healthy but even if he does he's not a guy who is going to make the big league team this year. He's in Low-A right now.
   19. Brian White Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4422552)
My question is why does Hamilton K so much if he has a decent eye (high BB%)?

It would seem either his approach is terrible, and he swings way too hard when behind in the count, or his eye is not that good, and he's only walking because of shitty mLB pitchers.


Might be a function of simply taking a lot of pitches. If he gets into deep counts by not swinging early in the count, he'll rack up BBs and Ks, even if he makes contact on a fairly high proportion of his swings.

If that's the case (and I don't know that it is), and he doesn't swing and miss a whole lot, he has a fairly simple adjustment to make if he reaches the majors and pitchers keep getting ahead in the count - he just needs to swing more.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4422553)
If that's the case (and I don't know that it is), and he doesn't swing and miss a whole lot, he has a fairly simple adjustment to make if he reaches the majors and pitchers keep getting ahead in the count - he just needs to swing more.

Agreed. He needs to stop K-ing and maintain a ridiculous BABIP.
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4422554)
For his style to work he needs to almost never strike out, have a BABIP on .350+ and hit .330. Last year he had a .371 BABIP, yet only hit .286.


No, he hit .311 last year with a .410 OBP. And Jon Jay has a career .346 BABIP with a decent amount of strikeouts and limited power, and without Billy's speed. You get a high BABIP in two ways, power or speed, and Billy is likely the fastest professional baseball player in history.

It would seem either his approach is terrible, and he swings way too hard when behind in the count, or his eye is not that good, and he's only walking because of shitty mLB pitchers.


Or he's very selective.

Projecting Billy based on age 21 stats, without knowing how much stronger he can get, and using K rates without adjusting for era, is a fools errand. His speed is already an outlier, perhaps the complete outlier. It's impossible to project how much his speed will help because we simply haven't seen his speed before.
   22. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4422583)
The thing about Hamilton is that if he's an "80" in speed, no one else is even a 75. He's that much faster than anyone else in baseball.

How much faster? Last year, he hit an inside-the-park HR, running the bases in 13.8 seconds; the next fastest time ever recorded by the Tater Tracker is Peter Borjous (no slug himself) at 14.02 - at time so fast that Larry Granillo opined "I don't know exactly what the theoretical limit to a 360-foot home run trot is, but I have to imagine we're pushing it pretty close with this Bourjos "single"." Hamilton beat that time by a quarter second.

Unfortunately, the video of Hamilton isn't up anymore, but you'd see him actually letting up the last step or 2.

Oh, and for all of his "struggles" in AAA, he has 13 SB (and 1 CS) in only 16 games and 20 times on base. If he can hit at all, he's going to be like nothing we've seen on the bases (including Rickey!).
   23. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4422585)
Hamilton's speed is like 90, 95 - were there such a thing.
He also has a higher ceiling as a defender than Bip did.
   24. billyshears Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4422587)
I've heard that on those rare occasions that Steve Matz is able to throw the ball without immediately clutching some part of his arm in agony, he has the best raw stuff in the organization, drafted in 2009 his career k/9 is 10.9... of course he's managed a grand total of 43 innings since being drafted 4 years ago.


Maybe they can take the useful parts from Matz and Reese Havens and combine them into one serviceable baseball player.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4422622)
No, he hit .311 last year with a .410 OBP. And Jon Jay has a career .346 BABIP with a decent amount of strikeouts and limited power, and without Billy's speed. You get a high BABIP in two ways, power or speed, and Billy is likely the fastest professional baseball player in history.

I'm just looking at his AA stats.


Or he's very selective.


No, if he was simply very selective, he wouldn't K that much. Brett Butler was very selective. Rickey Henderson was very selective. They both walked more than they K'd.

Projecting Billy based on age 21 stats, without knowing how much stronger he can get, and using K rates without adjusting for era, is a fools errand.

For a guy with no power, I don't think you need to adjust the K-rate much for era. If he's trading off K-rate for more power, it ain't working.
   26. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4422637)
If he can hit at all, he's going to be like nothing we've seen on the bases (including Rickey!).

Nah, he looks like the new model Otis Nixon to me. He strikes out more, but everyone does these days. Otis was a fun player but not exactly 'you'll be telling your kids about him' territory.

I would love to be wrong, but I don't know how much damage you can do with that little power and that much trouble making contact.
   27. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4422644)
Are there any slap hitters who drew lots of walks while whiffing a bunch?

As a young player (1991), Delino DeShields once drew 95 walks, led the league in strikeouts, had a slugging percentage of .332, and stole 56 bases. That was probably an unsustainable mix, and in later years he cut down on both his walks and his strikeouts.

Gary Pettis is probably closest to a career along the lines you're asking for: 521 walks, 958 strikeouts, 354 SB, 21 home runs. But he wasn't in the league for his offense, obviously.
   28. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:11 PM (#4422677)
Nah, he looks like the new model Otis Nixon to me. He strikes out more, but everyone does these days. Otis was a fun player but not exactly 'you'll be telling your kids about him' territory.
First, through age 21, Hamilton has over 800 more PA than Nixon; in that time, he has a slightly higher BA (.008) and higher SLG (.037). Significantly, he's played against better competition - Hamilton already has 213 PA in AA, a level Nixon didn't even reach until his age-22 season (Hamilton's current), and he didn't reach AAA until half-way through his age-23 season.

As for "speed" stats, while both were successful about 82% of SB attempts through age-21, Hamilton attempted a SB every 4 PA (I know, there will be some overlap with multiple SB attempts sometimes he's on base) while Nixon attempted one every 10 PA. Hamilton has also tripled more than twice as often (about 2.4% of AB vs. 1.15%).

So he's doing more at a younger age, and while everyone in the park knows he's going to run at every opportunity he's stealing bases at the same rate against (we'd assume) better batteries.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4422715)
he's stealing bases at the same rate against (we'd assume) better batteries.

Is that true? Isn't there some real evidence that pitcher/catcher effectiveness at controlling SBs is way down? SB% is at an all time high, IIRC.
   30. Pingu Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:04 PM (#4422772)
I like the comparison to Otis Nixon, seems about right. That probablly stems from my skepticism that Hamilton has 90 or 95 speed, or that he has never-again type speed. Basically I doubt 90 speed exists. I know its hyperbole almost every time its uttered, but we'ver heard similar things about Eric Young, Tom Goodwin, Joey Gathright, Deion Sanders, etc. etc.. I have my doubts that Hamilton's speed is any more exceptional than Stanton's power (for example). Certainly best in the game at the time he plays, but we've seen it before, we'll see it again.

Oh, and FTA, or from a question lingering in my head....is Mike Zunino really as good as he's shown so far? Thoughts?
   31. GregD Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4422775)
anyone remember Donell Nixon? Saw him in the minors (though not the year he stole 144 bases or whatever it was) and that guy had the greenest light I ever remember. It felt like he ran literally on every pitch.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:58 PM (#4422849)
Oops, I must have forgotten to hit submit and most of the guys I mentioned have been mentioned (Pettis, Coleman, etc.) Tony Womack K'd a decent amount and didn't walk.

We covered Hamilton pretty thoroughly in a couple of offseason threads if somebody has the links. Anyway, guys like this seem to almost always have careers of decent length, at least if they ever get that starting shot at least once. Willy Taveras made it to 2600 PA, Alex Sanches to 1600, even Alex Cole made it to 2000. And Coleman shows that you don't even necessarily need to be a great defender to have enough value -- he was worth about 12 WAR in his first 6 seasons.

A quickie search also turns up Michael Bourn, Chone Figgins, Brock, R Cedeno and LeFlore. Brock and LeFlore maybe not great comps given era differences? Cedeno is easily at the bottom of that pile but the rest are/were all decent players. Even if you ignore Bourn's defense, he's got 13 oWAR in about 5 seasons of play. Even in LF I think Bourn would be about 8 oWAR -- not great but not a disaster.

Hamilton has a very good chance at a career, it's just hard for me to see him becoming a star other than stealing 100+ bases while putting up a max of 3 WAR. The upside would seem to be Bourn. Still, nothing wrong with an exciting average cheap player on the roster.
   33. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:06 AM (#4422994)
First, through age 21, Hamilton has over 800 more PA than Nixon; in that time, he has a slightly higher BA (.008) and higher SLG (.037). Significantly, he's played against better competition - Hamilton already has 213 PA in AA, a level Nixon didn't even reach until his age-22 season (Hamilton's current), and he didn't reach AAA until half-way through his age-23 season.

Yeah, I'll allow he might be a little better. There's still only so much you can do with this profile. He'll be fun to have around, unique players like this add to the game.
   34. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:43 AM (#4423043)
I see a lot of comparisons to guys who made the majors. But be careful of selection bias. As Walt says "if they ever get that starting shot". I don't know how fast Hamilton is, but I heard a lot of great things about Joey Gathright and how fast he was.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4423095)
As far as speedy, high-K, low-power hitters are concerned, I'm surprised no one has brought up Omar Moreno yet.

Bip Roberts had an unusual development path. He was only available in the R5 because he and Bobby Bonilla had been involved in a serious collision the prior season while chasing a fly ball. The Pirates gambled that the medical uncertainty would keep them safe, but both ended up being picked. Fortunately, they were able to re-acquire Bonilla in trade.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4423164)
Is that true? Isn't there some real evidence that pitcher/catcher effectiveness at controlling SBs is way down? SB% is at an all time high, IIRC.


I think the better batteries comment arises from the fact he's doing it at higher levels, not some evolution of battery ability.

   37. Kurt Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4423264)
Lance Blankenship had a .222 BA, a .350 OBP, and more strikeouts than walks.
   38. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4423297)
I see a lot of comparisons to guys who made the majors. But be careful of selection bias. As Walt says "if they ever get that starting shot". I don't know how fast Hamilton is, but I heard a lot of great things about Joey Gathright and how fast he was.


Age 21, Joey was in his first year of pro ball in A ball hitting .264/.360/.269/.629 vs. Billy's .311/.410/.420/.830 at A+/AA.

Joey improved dramatically at age 22 in A+/AA, to .334/.408/.365/.773, still shy of Billy in "power" numbers. The difference isn't real power of course, it's mainly 14 triples in 512 ABs vs 3 in 425 ABs. Combine that with 69/85 in steal attempts vs. 155/192 in steal attempts and its clear as fast a ball player as Joey was, Billy is a full level above him.

I don't know how fast Billy would be in a track event, or even if he would be the fastest ballplayer in a 40 or 100 meter dash. That's why I try to be careful to describe him as perhaps the fastest ever "ballplayer", ie at base running. When he can comfortably beat a Bourjos inside the park HR time described as one of the fastest ever without even trying his hardest, that tells me he has a once in a generation talent for running the bases.

He may never hit a MLB pitch over the fence, but he's going to hit for plenty of extra bases turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples. If he learns to drag bunt at all he's going to lead the league in average.
   39. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4423304)
Combine that with 69/85 in steal attempts vs. 155/192 in steal attempts and its clear as fast a ball player Joey was, Billy is a full level above him.

Point taken about the other items, but aren't those percentages basically the same?
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4423317)
He may never hit a MLB pitch over the fence, but he's going to hit for plenty of extra bases turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples. If he learns to drag bunt at all he's going to lead the league in average.

Unless he's overmatched by MLB pitching. He's done nothing yet to prove he can hit in the bigs. He's currently sporting a 231/296/323 line in AAA.
   41. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4423319)
Is that true? Isn't there some real evidence that pitcher/catcher effectiveness at controlling SBs is way down? SB% is at an all time high, IIRC.
Over the past 5 years, the MLB SB% has been 72.8%; from '90-94 it was 67.4%. However, attempts are down by almost 45/team/season, and SBs are down by 23/team.

The difference in "effectiveness" could just as easily be explained as teams being smarter about when they run.
   42. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4423356)
Unless he's overmatched by MLB pitching. He's done nothing yet to prove he can hit in the bigs.
Neither has anyone else who's never played in the bigs. Nor Aaron Hicks.
Combine that with 69/85 in steal attempts vs. 155/192 in steal attempts and its clear as fast a ball player Joey was, Billy is a full level above him.

Point taken about the other items, but aren't those percentages basically the same?
Same %, but vastly higher quantity. Lots of guys are going to steal successfully 80% of the time, but most of them have the advantage of the pitcher/catcher not knowing when they're going. With Hamilton, they know he's going every time and yet he's still successful.
   43. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4423379)
Evar Swanson apparently rounded the bases in 13.3 seconds once in the minors; I read it in a baseball trivia book.
   44. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4423415)
Evar Swanson apparently rounded the bases in 13.3 seconds once in the minors; I read it in a baseball trivia book.
In a race, not on a hit. I'd guess there's a significant difference.

Look - I'm not arguing Hamilton is a no-doubt HOFer. But everything I've read on him is that he has a legitimate shot at the bigs and that his speed is like nothing anyone's ever seen. Barring catastrophy, everyone assumes he'll be in CF for the Reds next year (Choo's a free agent after this season); if he can get on base at all, he's going to be great fun to watch.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:20 PM (#4423955)
but I heard a lot of great things about Joey Gathright and how fast he was.

And even Gathright made it to over 1300 PA, most of it in a 4-year stretch from 24-27 when he was putting up a 69 OPS+. Despite the horrible hitting, he was worth 3 WAR in about 2 seasons worth of play -- not horrible.* He was +10 on the bases, +7 at avoiding DPs, +8 in the field while being -46 with the bat.

Blankenship also made it to nearly 1300 PA during which time he was 2 wins above average (about a 3 WAR player). Thanks to a ton of walks his offensive value wasn't that bad and his defense was apparently excellent (+24 career) -- he was possibly a terribly under-rated player -- Darwin Barney with a 350 OBP. You know, I'd heard of Blankenship but had no idea how extreme he was -- 222/350/299, an insane line. He (and Al Leiter) are counterpoints to "the walk rate will collapse because they'll just throw him strikes" argument. Even his career 270 BABIP screamed "throw it down the middle". Pitchers just don't have that much control -- if you don't swing at stuff outside the zone, you will walk a good bit.

* I assume Gathright did a lot of pinch-running and defensive-replacing and I assume WAR kinda mis-measures guys like this -- i.e. they are allowed to add value on the basepaths and in the field without using up PAs which is going to make them look at least a little better than a replacement/average guy with the same PAs. Which is fair enough from a value perspective I suppose but not necessarily from a quality perspective. Anyway, take a look at Tony Campana's WAR sometime -- he's a 4 WAR player and the Cubs were morons to trade him and the DBacks are morons for not playing him (he's note even in the majors) ... or he's just wicked fast and his value relative to replacement/average is "artificial". But then Herb Washington (not a great stealer) and Matt Alexander (better, not amazing) had negative WAR.
   46. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:31 PM (#4423967)
And even Gathright made it to over 1300 PA, most of it in a 4-year stretch from 24-27 when he was putting up a 69 OPS+. Despite the horrible hitting, he was worth 3 WAR in about 2 seasons worth of play -- not horrible.

Wow, I'm surprised. After your first sentence I was going to write "Well, yeah, teams kept giving him chances because he wss fast, but he was terrible." Interesting.

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