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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Jesus Montero: Caricature Of A Righty

Thanks, but I’m holding out for Jim Hendricks: Caricature Of A Lefty

Jesus Montero was acquired by the Mariners because the Mariners, like so many other people, figured he could blossom into one hell of a bat. The Mariners also figured Montero could catch, which would be great, but even if Montero had to play first or DH, the Mariners liked his potential, because everyone has always liked Montero’s potential. Okay. Fast forward!

If you want to be encouraged, 192 players this season have enough at-bats against left-handed pitchers to be considered “qualified,” whatever that means. Montero’s numbers are the 14th-best, by one reasonable measure, and some of the names around him are David Freese, Billy Butler, Yadier Molina, and Mike Trout. Montero has hit lefties. Montero has humiliated lefties.

...Jesus Montero, since the start of 2011, has shown very broad platoon splits. Against lefties, he’s been an all-world slugger, making enough contact and driving the ball in the air. Against righties, he’s been disgusting, and nearly half of his balls hit in play have been on the ground. That’s not who Jesus Montero is. Correction: that is who Jesus Montero is, but that isn’t what Jesus Montero is supposed to be. Montero is an unfinished product in plenty of ways, and this is one of them. Montero needs to improve against right-handed pitchers. The majority of pitchers he’s going to face will be right-handed pitchers, and he’ll be expected to be an everyday, middle-of-the-order contributor. What’ll go into making Montero better? Hell, I don’t know. I’m not a hitting coach, and I don’t even know what hitting coaches do. But this is an important project. Whatever is the matter with Jesus Montero against righties needs to stop being so much the matter. Until he can drive the ball in the air regardless of pitcher handedness, he’ll be only an occasional bat, and that isn’t the point of Jesus Montero at all.

Repoz Posted: August 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: August 02, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4199098)
Where's Kehoskie?
   2. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 02, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4199159)
When Pineda never comes back from injury and Montero never learns to hit righties, clearly the joke will be on all of us for freaking out over that trade.
   3. SG Posted: August 02, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4199161)
If I remember correctly, Montero had pretty big platoon splits in the minors too.
   4. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: August 02, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4199167)
If you want to be encouraged, 192 players this season have enough at-bats against left-handed pitchers to be considered “qualified,” whatever that means.


Let me translate: "Stop reading here."
   5. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4199171)
He's not really doing that badly. He's still only 22. In a normal park over 130 games, he's probably at 275/320/420 with like 15-18 HR. If he could learn to catch, that's got some value.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2012 at 06:04 PM (#4199215)
Before the season began, I highlighted some 22 year-olds (plus 24-year-old Belt and 20-year-old Trout) who projected a bit better than Montero by ZiPS (Trout actually worse but 2 years younger). Let's compare ... and see if I can remember everybody I comped him to!

Montero 98 OPS+
Hosmer 79
Trout is God
Freeman 119
Heyward 120
Stanton 143 (why are Primates not talking about this guy every day?)
Belt 104
Lawrie 99 (thanks P-I)

I think that was the list. So in that sense he's holding his own and I think is ranked right around where he was pre-season. Hosmer's the BIG disappointment here. On the bright side, Starlin Castro's OPS+ is a couple of points higher than Montero's which I'd have gladly taken at the beginning of the year. P-I also turns up Altuve at 109 (age 22) and of course Harper at 105 (19) as players 22 or younger with 300 PA this year. Now that list by WAR

Trout 6.3
Lawrie 3.7 (with the new shift numbers)
Heyward 3.5
Stanton 3.1
Castro 3.0
Altuve 1.9
Freeman 1.7
Harper 1.5
Montero 0.0
Hosmer -0.7

That's not overly encouraging for Montero and Hosmer.

   7. Big fan Posted: August 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM (#4199257)
hey I am a Yankee fan and if you don't like him we will take him back! We could use a DH that kills lefties...we will give you one of our young awesome pitchers - M Pineda.
   8. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: August 02, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4199435)
Montero at home: .214/.267/.335
Montero away: .307/.344/.458

The line-up is awful, but hitters like Montero and Seager are getting killed by the park.
   9. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 03, 2012 at 12:49 AM (#4199468)
While we're doing splits:

Montero as catcher (154 PA): .306/.344/.472
Montero as DH (212 PA): .226/.274/.338

So if Montero starts at catcher, on the road, against a left-handed pitcher, look out! (This is actually good information, as he's on my fantasy team and I was wondering whether I should start him tomorrow against Sabathia in Yankee Stadium. I guess I should.)
   10. RollingWave Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:29 AM (#4199496)
Given that Russell Martin have struggled quite badly at the plate (though he is still getting on base and hits reasonable power, but for some reason is stuck with a .196 BABIP) and hasn't exactly been awesome in throwin runners out this year, I'd still like to have the Pineda trade back...


   11. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:16 AM (#4199529)
Stanton 143 (why are Primates not talking about this guy every day?)

Because people don't know if it's Mike Stanton or his evil twin Giancarlo Stanton. (Or maybe Mike's the evil twin. Dunno.)
   12. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4199590)
If I remember correctly, Montero had pretty big platoon splits in the minors too.

My memory might be off, but I remember it being a reverse platoon split.
   13. SG Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4199608)
My memory might be off, but I remember it being a reverse platoon split.


Looks like he did have a reverse platoon split in 2009.

Vs. RHP: .353/.407/.590
Vs. LHP: .304/.347/.500

His 2010 splits were more normal.

Vs. RHP: .288/.343/.513
Vs. LHP: .284/.368/.530

His 2011 splits became a lot more pronounced.

Vs. RHP: .273/.330/.398
Vs. LHP: .328/.392/.647


   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4199612)
Pronounced and reversed?

I remember the big MGL platoon split dust-up of many years ago. He showed pretty convincingly that RHB platoon split numbers for a season or two are close to worthless for estimating a player's projected platoon split. He didn't show that RHB have no individual platoon splits - though he claimed to have shown that for a while - but it seems clear that we should never use RHB platoon split numbers for a single year and think they mean something on their own.
   15. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4199614)
If he could learn to catch, that's got some value.


Which is sort of a far cry from all the 'he is one of the best, if not the best hitting prospect in all of baseball'. Damn I love overreactions.
   16. Randy Jones Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4199618)
Which is sort of a far cry from all the 'he is one of the best, if not the best hitting prospect in all of baseball'. Damn I love overreactions.


How was that an overreaction? At the time people were saying that, Montero was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.
   17. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4199635)
How was that an overreaction? At the time people were saying that, Montero was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.


Overreaction was the wrong word. How about 'Damn I love overhyped expectations'.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4200188)
Well, he was one of the best _hitting prospects_ in all of baseball. He was something like the 6th best among 22-year olds in pre-season projections but Stanton, Hosmer and Lawrie were the only ones significantly above him. Belt was the only other guy under 25 I found projected to hit substantially better than Montero.

The overhype with Montero and other similar prospects is in the assumption that a guy who projects to a 115-ish OPS+ at 22 necessarily is a guy who's gonna put up a 150 OPS+ at 25. Montero was always only a HUGE prospect if he could catch. Otherwise, yes, he had some chance of turning into Miguel Cabrera or Carlos Delgado but it was a pretty slim one (as it would be for any prospect). In my first list in 6, Trout is the only one blowing his projection out of the water. Freeman and Heyward are a smidgen better than their projections and the othere are all lower (with 2 months to go of course). That means that, other than Trout, all of those players are going to project basically the same or worse next year. And that's pretty much the way these things usually work.

I wonder how the alternate universe Montero, who was shifted off C long ago, is faring. Maybe that guy was in the majors at 20-21 and just had his big breakout age 22 season.
   19. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4200203)
Overreaction was the wrong word. How about 'Damn I love overhyped expectations'.


I don't know - a guy could still be one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and "struggle" in his first year. I wouldn't call it overhype - there's just always a degree of uncertainty with prospects. Top prospects don't always come up and dominate right away, particularly catchers, and especially not at Safeco Field. That's why they call him a hitting prospect and not a hitter. I mean, I'm still waiting for Matt Wieters to punch a hole in the sun with his mind. You just never know how guys are going to turn out.
   20. asinwreck Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4200251)
Given the Seattle angle, I thought the headline was a SKWM reference.

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