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Monday, May 27, 2013

Mariners call up prospect Nick Franklin, demote Dustin Ackley

Is Dustin Ackley the biggest Dustin bust since Dustydust?

Franklin, a 22-year-old switch hitter, was batting .324/.440/.472 with nine doubles, four homers, 20 RBI, 28 runs and seven stolen bases for Triple-A Tacoma. He now has 103 games in Triple-A after 79 in Double-A, so he should have enough seasoning to be ready for the bigs. He was drafted in the first round (27th overall) out of high school in 2009 by the Mariners and entered the season ranked as the 79th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He can play second base or shortstop.

The Mariners demoted Dustin Ackley to Triple-A to create room on the roster for Franklin. The 25-year-old second baseman is hitting a paltry .205/.266/.250 this season and is 0-for-his-last-19. The Mariners recently showed they didn’t mind sending down a former hot prospect, as Jesus Montero was demoted this past week, so this shouldn’t come as a shock.

Still, it’s very newsworthy that Ackley has been sent down. He was the second overall draft pick in 2009 and entered the majors in 2011 with significant hype. He ended up making good on that, hitting .273/.348/.417 with 16 doubles, seven triples, six homers and six steals in 90 games, good enough to get him sixth place in AL Rookie of the Year voting, despite playing slightly more than a half season. But he hit just .226/.294/.328 last season and again appears to be regressing this year.

Repoz Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:48 PM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners

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   1. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: May 27, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4453105)
This hotshot middle infield prospect will surely work out!
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4453120)
Safeco has become for Mariners' hitting prospects what Coors was for Rockies' pitching prospects.

They should try to change the park up; they're wrecking a lot of early careers.
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4453131)
They should try to change the park up; they're wrecking a lot of early careers.


They moved in the fences this season, by as much as 17 feet in left center field.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4453133)
They should try to change the park up;


They did. At the start of the year. Maybe it's not the park, but its inhabitants.

   5. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4453145)
Damn. Jesus Montero actually threw out a base-stealer. I was hoping he could manage to go a whole year without doing so. Runners are 23/24 off of him. Though I suppose you can live with a poor catcher when he's delivering a 67 OPS+. He's been sent down as well right?

EDIT: On the other hand Kyle Seager is having a nice season so far.
   6. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4453149)
Seems like the Mariners are just terrible at developing talent, no?

Damn. Jesus Montero actually threw out a base-stealer. I was hoping he could manage to go a whole year without doing so. Runners are 23/24 off of him. Though I suppose you can live with a poor catcher when he's delivering a 67 OPS+. He's been sent down as well right?


The Pirates should trade for him. He'd fit in nicely there, as they openly do not care if you steal bases off them. (Or didn't; maybe with signing Martin they went back to caring after last year's LOLfest, I don't know.)
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4453200)
They did. At the start of the year. Maybe it's not the park, but its inhabitants.


Montero, Ackley, and Smoak were pretty good prospects. They have all flopped spectacularly with the big club. (Montero hit well in a small sample with the Yankees; Ackley hit well when he was initially called up by the Mariners.)

Maybe it's the players, maybe the organization, maybe the park. I think the park. Who else has hit well there recently? Hell, even Ichiro stopped hitting there.
   8. konaforever Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4453216)
Adrian beltre had a hard time hitting there as well, and picked up when he left.
   9. bigboy1234 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4453226)
Ackley and Smoak had a combined 35 HR in 1418 AB in AA and AAA, a lot of that time in the PCL (notorious hitters league), maybe people got a little too excited about them as prospects and it isn't just Safeco? Yes, both were highly thought of draft prospects, but the way Smoak hit in AAA and the fact he is a 1B he was lucky to even be in the big leagues, funnily enough Smoak is the one of the three that is still in the big leagues amongst the three.
   10. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:46 PM (#4453229)
multi-year: Batting - 90, Pitching - 91 · one-year: Batting - 93, Pitching - 94


That's a pretty horrible park for hitters. And it helps explain FHernandez's success. Fewer pitches needed to get through an inning at home, saves pitches in-game and in-season overall.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4453230)

Maybe it's the players, maybe the organization, maybe the park. I think the park. Who else has hit well there recently? Hell, even Ichiro stopped hitting there.


It's been a pitcher's park, no question. Whether the park is actually retarding players' ability to develop as hitters is a more interesting question, and my suspicion is the organization, rather than the ballpark, is the entity that's more responsible on that front. Then again, I tend not to proscribe mystical qualities to inanimate objects. I know, I'm funny like that.

That's a pretty horrible park for hitters. And it helps explain FHernandez's success. Fewer pitches needed to get through an inning at home, saves pitches in-game and in-season overall.


Which is why I prefer a pitcher's park to one of them bandboxes for team-buildin' purposes. Pitchers get tired and hurt the more darts they throw. Hitters don't.

   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:59 PM (#4453235)
Then again, I tend not to proscribe mystical qualities to inanimate objects. I know, I'm funny like that.


What's the source of this insult? Parks that suppress offense a lot are much more difficult to hit in, and therefore (my theory is) potentially more difficult to develop in if you're a position player. Now, maybe that's not correct, but it has nothing to do with "mystical qualities."
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4453239)
What's the source of this insult? Parks that suppress offense a lot are much more difficult to hit in, and therefore (my theory is) potentially more difficult to develop in if you're a position player.


Well, it sounds a lot like "pitchers like to know their roles" or "batter's like to hit in a set spot in the lineup" - the kind of stuff you generally dismiss out of hand. Safeco has been a pitcher's park, no question. A guy's numbers will be down there compared to other parks. The jump from there to the idea that the lower offensive context makes it hard for batters to develop overall is one I'm not prepared to make. The other alternative (the org. is just shitty at developing/IDing its hitting prospects) is a more logical conclusion, as far as I'm concerned.
   14. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4453243)
Adrian beltre had a hard time hitting there as well, and picked up when he left.


I wonder if Beltre cost himself a shot at the HOF by signing with Seattle. Sure, he can still make it, but as excellent as he has been, I get the feeling that he will need 3,000 hits, not an impossibility.

Age 19-25 (developmental phase) in LA - 108 OPS+
Age 27-30 (prime) in Seattle - 101 OPS+
Age 31-34 (start of decline) BOS and TEX - 135 OPS+
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4453252)
Well, it sounds a lot like "pitchers like to know their roles" or "batter's like to hit in a set spot in the lineup" - the kind of stuff you generally dismiss out of hand.


It sounds nothing like that. I'm not talking about soft factors (e.g., a park getting into a hitter's head), but hard factors of it being objectively harder to hit in a park that is... more difficult to hit in.

Safeco has been a pitcher's park, no question. A guy's numbers will be down there compared to other parks. The jump from there to the idea that the lower offensive context makes it hard for batters to develop overall is one I'm not prepared to make.


I'm not prepared to make it either. I'm raising it as a possibility.
   16. base ball chick Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:31 PM (#4453256)
miserlou

here and i thought if a ballplayer got better after he hit 31 he had to be doing drugs.
whaddaya know, hitting might could be influenced by home park

but what i want to know, and hasn't nobody answered, is why guys USED to be able to hit well in safeco and now they can't

- there are LOTS of guys who are hyped to death and don't make it in the majors. not just ackley and smoak. you can't take it real too seriously some of those PCL numbers - see brett wallace. and lots of guys just canNOT adjust their second year
   17. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4453264)
Amusing to see the libertarian make the "society's at fault, not the individual" argument in this case. If these prospects had panned out, they'd have good OPS+-es, no matter how low their individual event stats were. But Montero's is 67. Ackley's is 49. It has nothing to do with whether it's a hitter's park or a pitcher's park. Smoak's is 101, which isn't good for a first baseman, but it shows some improvement.

It's reasonable to raise it as a possibility, though.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4453266)
I'm not prepared to make it either. I'm raising it as a possibility.


"They should try to change the park up; they're wrecking a lot of early careers," sounds like a little more than raising a possibility.

It sounds nothing like that. I'm not talking about soft factors (e.g., a park getting into a hitter's head), but hard factors of it being objectively harder to hit in a park that is... more difficult to hit in.


Nope, still sounds like it. If it's not "getting in the player's head" then what exactly is it doing? It's more difficult to get similar positive batter outcomes in Safeco than it's been in other parks. But the actual process of hitting, the thing that needs to be developed, is not objectively more difficult. A good organization would recognize that.

The M's problem, since the glow of the magical 2001 season began to fade, is that it's been a terrible organization pretty much across the board. It's not that the franchise just has trouble developing hitters. Other than the King, it hasn't groomed a lot of pitchers into superstardom either. Mike Morse may well have developed fine there. He showed more life with the bat than anyone else they've had. They really didn't give him a chance. So as far as possibilities go, I'm sticking with the "organization has its head in its collective rectum" as the best bet.
   19. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4453292)
I suppose it's possible that the park hurts young hitters, but Occam's Razor seems to indicate that it's the org -- bad coaching, bad environment, etc. Remember that this may be the most incompetent team in baseball since Gillick left. Their record hasn't been as bad as the Royals or the Astros, but their payroll has always been much higher.

(Let me have this. It's all I have when it comes to this team.)

Here's a worthwhile question: do pitcher's parks meaningfully damage the careers of young hitters as a matter of routine? I don't have the energy / technical knowhow to run a full study, but it might be worth thinking about. Just picking some pitchers' parks at random:

San Diego

It's worth noting that both of their stadiums have been canyons, or at least for the last decade or so; Qualcomm was nearly as rough on hitters as PetCo has turned out to be. The Padres have certainly had some trouble developing hitters: Adrian Gonzalez didn't have much trouble, but Chase Headley took forever to figure it out, Kevin Kouzmanoff's best season was his (technical) rookie year; it seems like most of their best hitters have come into the org from outside as established or semi-established ballplayers -- Nevin, Caminiti, Klesko, Giles. Gary Sheffield showed up before Qualcomm became quite so rough on hitters. Tony Gwynn, of course, had no trouble, but he was (A) a very strange hitter, and (B) so great at what he did that he probably could have done it anywhere.

Houston

Back when the Astros played in the dome, they didn't seem to have such a terrible time developing hitters -- Bagwell, Biggio, Cesar Cedeno, Jim Wynn, Joe Morgan have all grown well and on pace. Of course there are counter-examples (Caminiti, Luis Gonzalez), but it doesn't seem like the Astrodome was where young players went to die.


Okay, I'm realizing that this is a ridiculous way to go about this, and kind of exactly why guys with more energy and better Excel skills than mine have changed our understanding of the game. All I would say is that it's certainly possible for prospects to turn into good hitters in severe pitchers' parks. This might be a run of bad luck, bad scouting, bad coaching, or some combination of all of them. Or it might, maybe, be the park.
   20. bookbook Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4453312)

Two of the three prime suspects (Smoak and Montero) were not developed in any meaningful sense by the M's. So, the problem may be one of assymetrical information - (the Rangers and Yankees knew these players lacked a certain capacity to match their hype.) Or it's possible that Wedge and crew are screwing them up at the major league level....

Ackley's failure to adjust is disconcerting.
Seager has been developing fine with the current braintrust of the M's, as has Saunders, despite their best efforts to destroy him.

In terms of pitching, I'm not sure it's accurate to say the M's have done Felix and nothing else. Fister and Pineda (pre- and hopefully post-injury) are developmental credits, even if no longer with the M's. Vargas isn't a full credit, but turned into a pretty strong #3/#4 pitcher while wearing the Teal. Wilhelmson's a pretty decent closer as well, as was Putz before him.

Jeff Bagwell notwithstanding, it's gotta be harder to develop as a power hitter in such an extreme pitcher's park. Especially one where it's not only about dimensions, but also wind/heavy air and, at least at times, visibility factors, too.

For awhile now, the meme has been that Bavasi drafted terribly and signed internationally with big checks but no judgement. Within the next two years, we'll know if we're saying the same things about Zduriencik and co.
   21. guajolote2 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4453320)
Dustin Ackley's lack of production and development has been baffling. He was so strong coming out of college. He did everything well, including hit for power. Even on the downside, if he was going to be a 10hr/year guy in the bigs rather than a 20, he looked like a sure bet to be a good player, as he profiled as a near-lock to hit at least .275 with 70 walks, and with the potential to be a Craig Biggio like force on the upside. To see what he's ended up as, never would have never guessed...

He's the biggest mystery/disappointment among the last five or six drafts.

   22. Halofan Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4453325)
Drafted ahead Trout.
   23. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4453330)
Also drafted ahead of Trout: Stephen Strasburg, Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matthew Hobgood, Zack Wheeler, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner, Drew Storen, Tyler Matzek, Aaron Crow, Grant Green, Matt Purke, Alex White, Bobby Borchering, A.J. Pollock, Chad James, Shelby Miller, Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni Mier, Kyle Gibson, Jared Mitchell, Randal Grichuk
   24. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4453334)
When Ackley was strong in that first season, I really thought he was going to be the M's next offensive star. All part of the same irrational exuberance that led Cameron to overrate the organization a year before, I suspect. Mariners fans were just so desperate for something good to happen in the post-Gillick years.
   25. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:26 PM (#4453335)
I don't think being exuberant about a 120 OPS+ by a 23-year-old middle infielder who was the second overall pick is IRRATIONAL.
   26. billyshears Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:33 PM (#4453338)
The jump from there to the idea that the lower offensive context makes it hard for batters to develop overall is one I'm not prepared to make. The other alternative (the org. is just shitty at developing/IDing its hitting prospects) is a more logical conclusion, as far as I'm concerned.


I'm not sure why blaming the organization is simpler, or more logical than blaming the park. Just having watched David Wright try to adjust to CitiField, I feel fairly confident saying that it messed with him. Batted balls that used to be HRs turned into outs, or doubles at best. So then he started selling out for power, which increased his Ks and decreased his average. It took him 3 years to find equilibrium. I'm sure other players deal with failure caused by an excess of space in their own way, but it seems naive to think that players merely go on about their way and don't react and adjust (positively or negatively) to the change in circumstances. I actually find the belief that the Mariners have some sort of evil magic pixie dust that turns players who have been very successful their entire lives through the highest levels of the minors into major league failures to be a more implausible explanation.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4453341)
And I'd suggest that if David Wright genuinely got himself all twisted in knots because of Citifield* then he probably played for a crappy organization that does a terrible job developing or managing its players. Which, not coincidentally, he does.


* Though I thought his struggles, which never reached Mariner hitter territory in their awfulness, were attributed to the beaning.
   28. billyshears Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM (#4453349)
And I'd suggest that if David Wright genuinely got himself all twisted in knots because of Citifield* then he probably played for a crappy organization that does a terrible job developing or managing its players. Which, not coincidentally, he does.


He was playing for more or less the same people who developed him (and Jose Reyes) into one of the best position players in baseball, and a team that won no fewer than 88 games in the 3 seasons before they moved to CitiField. I tend to think the hitting coach in baseball is mostly insignificant. I'm not aware of any studies on this, but I highly, highly doubt there is any significant fluctuation in player performance based on a change in hitting coaches. I just don't see hitters as the malleable lumps of clay you suppose them to be.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:11 AM (#4453352)
He was playing for more or less the same people who developed him (and Jose Reyes) into one of the best position players in baseball, and a team that won no fewer than 88 games in the 3 seasons before they moved to CitiField. I tend to think the hitting coach in baseball is mostly insignificant. I'm not aware of any studies on this, but I highly, highly doubt there is any significant fluctuation in player performance based on a change in hitting coaches. I just don't see hitters as the malleable lumps of clay you suppose them to be.


You see them as psychologically fragile when confronted with slightly deeper fences? That's better?

If David Wright was legitimately screwed up* for three seasons because of Citifield's dimensions, then the Mets organization was doing a shitty job of managing its players. Hitting is pretty damn simple. Swing at good strikes. Don't swing at balls. When you swing, swing hard. That's pretty much it. You can fiddle with mechanics, but the philosophy is the same regardless if you're playing in a bandbox or a canyon. If you're letting a player get twisted up because the same swings aren't generating the exact same outcomes, your organization is failing him.

Can a ballpark mess with a guy? Sure, I see no reason why it couldn't (though I think a good organization should be able to prevent it).

But when you've got systemic hitting failure like we've seen in Seattle, an organization that's been about as poorly run as any in baseball over the past 10 years, the default assumption should not be that the park is having the same mysterious performance-dampening effect on everyone, but that the piss poor organization itself is the primary culprit. Ballparks suppress numbers; they shouldn't suppress skill.

* Which, at this time, remains mostly speculative.

   30. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4453366)
Gee, THREE hitting prospects haven't panned out ( yet ) for the Mariners. What a sample size we have here.

Montero - A career .844 OPS AAA hitter which makes him by definition not a top hitting prospect and is still 23 which means he's also not yet a bust.

Smoak - a career .849 OPS minor league hitter and only .788 at the AAA level (and never young for his leagues). A 96 OPS+ MLB hitter his last three years, how could you expect much more? Question isn't whether he's a bust, its why he was a hyped 1B prospect at all with that bat.

Ackley - A mediocre first year .775 OPS who got hot his second year at age 23. Maybe instead of corking his bat the Ms should aluminum it. Or realize he's still only 25.

And it's hard to blame Safeco for retarding Beltre's development as a hitter. His first year in Safeco was his EIGHTH year in the majors, and coming off a 48 HR 163 OPS+ season no less. Doesn't anyone remember what a bust Beltre was heading into that age 25 season, a top prospect so talented he took over third base fir the Dodgers permanently at age 19! He peaked at age 21 and got progressively worse until a 88 OPS+ at age 24. The fact he almost doubled that the next year is still one of the all time great fluke seasons even though he found another gear in his 30s.

The craziest thing about his age 25 explosion is he was hurt the whole year (bone spurs IIRC) and credited the year to his bad ankle to forcing him to stay back on pitches.
   31. Halofan Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:17 AM (#4453372)
Three prospects isn't a large sample size. Correct. Is eleven seasons without a postseason berth big enough for you?
   32. Sunday silence Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:57 AM (#4453378)
Which is why I prefer a pitcher's park to one of them bandboxes for team-buildin' purposes. Pitchers get tired and hurt the more darts they throw. Hitters don't.


I dont get it. It's still a zero sum game, pitchers come to your park just as often. So now they get the same amount of protection from "tired and hurt" as your pitchers do. Is that an advantage?
   33. MM1f Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:41 AM (#4453390)
The really weird thing is that Ackley has floundered in Seattle, while his college teammate Kyle Seager has succeded.

Seager was a really good looking infield bat coming out of UNC (he and Ackley were the same year in school, Ackley is 6 months younger), a strong, stocky kid with a short, powerful, line-drive stroke. He was a great pure hitter, but, man, he was no Dustin Ackley.

If you told anyone in 2009 that one of those two UNC infielders was going to be a promising young MLB hitter in 2013, and the other was going to be a bum being sent back down to AAA, I don't think a single soul would have told you Ackley would be the one to fail.
   34. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:17 AM (#4453394)
Geoff Baker's take on things in the Seattle Times:

So, cheering for the demotion of Ackley? That’s nuts.

Applauding the downfall of Montero? Suicidal if you’re a Mariners fan.

This franchise will be going nowhere fast if more of this young core does not step up to join Seager this year. If the core as a whole flops, so will this franchise for the next few seasons, unless somebody can convince this ownership group to seriously open its pocketbook. Good luck with that.

There was never any guarantee that “playing the kids” was ever going to work as a strategy, no matter how novel it may have seemed back in 2010. So far, the strategy has failed. There is still time to save it. And Mariners fans had best hope some of it can be saved, or this franchise will be having many more bad days than good ones ahead, no matter how high the team may have scored in past prospect rankings and other things that matter little at the MLB level.
   35. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:45 AM (#4453395)
Three prospects isn't a large sample size. Correct. Is eleven seasons without a postseason berth big enough for you?


If you are trying to convince me that this organization has made poor resource allocation decisions, and been unlucky to boot, sure.

If you are trying to convince me that 3 struggling prospects is evidence some other magical organization or a magical home park would have better developed them, uh no.
   36. bookbook Posted: May 28, 2013 at 04:19 AM (#4453399)
That may have been Geoff Baker's worst piece. His logic is so broken down that he's lashing out at others (Dave, I assume) for retracting support for Jack Z's administration when Jack Z's approach changed this offseason. If the policies do a 180, of course the people who agreed with the old policies won't like the new ones.

It comes off very defensive, by a guy who predicted 85-wins now that the veterans sluggers Morse and Morales and Bay and Ibanez were on board.

   37. Walt Davis Posted: May 28, 2013 at 05:13 AM (#4453401)
a) who the hell knows on parks vs. hitters

b) that said, I'd imagine it does matter for certain types of hitters. If you're ... I was gonna say Adam Dunn but he kinda hits bombs ... but if you're a flyball hitter with good but not great power playing in a canyon, you don't hit with much power. You notice this. You notice you're not as productive as some of the guys putting the ball in play more, putting it on the ground, etc. You change your hitting style cuz, y'know, maximizing production is what you're about.

c) The flipside of the unspectacular but solid ground ball/liner hitter playing in Coors where everybody is cranking it over the fence. You're gonna start trying to hit more HR.

d) But, sure, I suppose a good organization keeps you on the right track ... or trades your ass for somebody who can hit in their park.

Anyway, I saw the Cubs screw up many a prospect under the theory "Wrigley is a RH pull hitter HR park" and even with line-drive guys like Scot Thompson being told he needed to pull the ball and hit with more power -- which was kinda true but still counterproductive. Naturally, being the Cubs, they did their damnedest to turn the young Oscar Gamble into a groundball hitting speedster ... something he didn't seem to recover from for about 5 seasons. (Checks b-r ... took 3 years to get over it)

Beltre ... well, you'll notice those M numbers look a lot like his LA numbers, especially if you ignore the one huge silly season (97 OPS+). The big breakout in Boston was a surprise but was largely fueled by a ton of doubles (off the monster I assume) and that seemed sort of fluke-ish. I never expected him to keep hitting like he has in Texas -- got that one wrong.

As to his HoF chances, I think it's too late. His chance is to be the next Brooks Robinson but, for whatever silly reasons, the man has only 4 GG so that will only fly if they start believing in dWAR. Obviously 3000 hits gets him in the conversation and might do it (the defense will give them an excuse). But he only had a 108 OPS+ coming out of LA. Even with 5 good years in Seattle, I'm not sure how his career OPS+ at this stage would be higher than maybe 125 (I get 123 rough) and that's usually not good enough for 3B. Darrell Evans could end up being a pretty good comp. Obviously Beltre has a much better defensive rep but I don't think it's good enough to close the gap between Evans and the HoF.

As to Safeco ... so far scoring is way up in Safeco. 7.65 R/g in Safeco, 8.5 R/g on the road. They are holding their own at home so far 87/89 run differential but getting smoked on the road 93/137. Last year is was just 6.4 runs in Safeco and a whopping 9.3 on the road. But their run differential last year was just 32 ... they're already passed that this year.

It looks like the 1-year PF must be this year already (93-94 sounds about right) but I'm not sure if they're using 1-years in calculating OPS+. It's possible the M hitters are doing even worse than it looks.
   38. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 05:17 AM (#4453402)
It comes off very defensive, by a guy who predicted 85-wins now that the veterans sluggers Morse and Morales and Bay and Ibanez were on board.

Funnily enough all four of these guys have been much better than I think any reasonable expectation...though Morse seems to have cooled.
   39. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 05:22 AM (#4453403)
Speaking of pitcher's parks...

All the San Diego starters have an OPS+ above 100 (with the exception of Nick Hundley at 97). And their two most-used reserves, Alexi Amarista and Kyle Blanks are both hitting fairly well. I would think the vast majority of teams have had at least one sink-hole in their lineup to this point of the season. But the pitching is dreadful so they aren't winning much.
   40. billyshears Posted: May 28, 2013 at 08:22 AM (#4453423)
But when you've got systemic hitting failure like we've seen in Seattle, an organization that's been about as poorly run as any in baseball over the past 10 years, the default assumption should not be that the park is having the same mysterious performance-dampening effect on everyone, but that the piss poor organization itself is the primary culprit. Ballparks suppress numbers; they shouldn't suppress skill.


Right. The default assumption should be that the Seattle coaching staff is having some mysterious performance dampening effect. Arguing that the problem is coaching is every bit as much an argument relying on "soft" factors as arguing that the problem is the park. At least we know that Safeco and CitiField suppress offense. You have know idea what the Mets or the Mariners are teaching their players, and are just assuming that it's some sort of bad voodoo.
   41. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: May 28, 2013 at 08:30 AM (#4453428)
I don't know, the A's seemed bitten by the "It's too tough to hit in this park" bug for a few years and now they aren't. The park didn't change, though...
   42. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:01 AM (#4453446)
I never really saw the fascination with Ackley when he was drafted. Average to below-average power, below average speed, and a questionable defender (he's turned out better at that than I thought he would). You're really relying on him to be a high average and walk guy.

Franklin I love though. Very smooth fielder, and plus power. I hope Safeco doesn't kill him.
   43. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4453447)
Tony Gwynn, of course, had no trouble, but he was (A) a very strange hitter, and (B) so great at what he did that he probably could have done it anywhere.


I'm 27, so I didn't really get to see Tony Gwynn at his peak. So I don't have much of a memory of him as a player. But I stumbled across a leaderboard that is just so absolutely insane I think it says more about Gwynn than any memory ever could.

* * * *

Highest Batting Average With Two Strikes, career, min. 1000 PAs:

1. Tony Gwynn, .302
2. Wade Boggs, .262
3. Todd Helton, .262
4. Juan Pierre, .262
5. Luis Polonia, .261
6. Ichiro Suzuki, .260
7. Joe Mauer, .257
8. Albert Pujols, .257
   44. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4453449)
As to his HoF chances, I think it's too late. His chance is to be the next Brooks Robinson but, for whatever silly reasons, the man has only 4 GG so that will only fly if they start believing in dWAR. Obviously 3000 hits gets him in the conversation and might do it (the defense will give them an excuse). But he only had a 108 OPS+ coming out of LA. Even with 5 good years in Seattle, I'm not sure how his career OPS+ at this stage would be higher than maybe 125 (I get 123 rough) and that's usually not good enough for 3B. Darrell Evans could end up being a pretty good comp. Obviously Beltre has a much better defensive rep but I don't think it's good enough to close the gap between Evans and the HoF.

I don't know, I think he's got a decent shot assuming a typical decline. He'll have some very impressive counting stats for the traditional voter. He should finish this season (age 34) with ~2,400 hits and ~375 HR. He's won the past two GGs and has another two guaranteed years with a contending team. So put him at 2,700 hits, 400+ HR, and 5 or 6 GGs by the time he's 36, plus the gravy of his final few years. Even acknowledging how tough 3Bs have it, I think he should be in a good position to get the traditional vote.

I don't think there's any question he'll get the sabermetrically inclined vote given the defensive numbers. He's already at 66 WAR.
   45. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4453451)
Highest Batting Average With Two Strikes, career, min. 1000 PAs:

1. Tony Gwynn, .302
2. Wade Boggs, .262
3. Todd Helton, .262
4. Juan Pierre, .262
5. Luis Polonia, .261
6. Ichiro Suzuki, .260
7. Joe Mauer, .257
8. Albert Pujols, .257


There's something wrong with Gwynn's numbers. He had 434 strikeouts in his career, but his splits show only 266 with 2 strikes. Since you can't strikeout unless you have 2 strikes on you already, there are 168 strikeouts missing from his 2 strike split.

edit: OK, the split data is from 1988 onward. That benefits Gwynn vis a vis Boggs, as Gwynn had a .335 BA before 1988, and Boggs .354. I expect Gwynn is still ahead, but not by as much.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4453453)
I dont get it. It's still a zero sum game, pitchers come to your park just as often. So now they get the same amount of protection from "tired and hurt" as your pitchers do. Is that an advantage?

No. Your pitchers get 81 games in the pitcher-friendly stadium. Any individual opponent is only going to get 3-9 games in your stadium.

The positive effect on opponents is spread around the whole rest of the league, while your staff gets the concentrated effect.
   47. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4453454)
I agree with #26 -- it seems perfectly logical that players can develop bad habits because of the park they play in. And it's not either/or re the park and the organization. A player can develop bad habits because of the park, and bad coaching won't help him correct those habits. With the mariners I suspect it's equal parts park, coaching, and the fact that the hitters weren't that great to begin with.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4453465)
Right. The default assumption should be that the Seattle coaching staff is having some mysterious performance dampening effect.


It's not just the coaching staff being unable to get the players to perform. It's incorrectly identifying the players that can (never giving Mike Morse a chance, dumping Adam Jones for a pitcher in a mistaken belief of contention).

At least we know that Safeco and CitiField suppress offense.


We also know that the teams that have inhabited those parks have been poorly run, to varying degrees.

As I said, these parks suppress numbers. They shouldn't suppress skill.

A player can develop bad habits because of the park, and bad coaching won't help him correct those habits.


If identifying and correcting bad habits isn't part of the coaching staff's responsibility, there's no point in having a coaching staff.

   49. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4453467)
Sorry -- that was poorly phrased. I meant that a player might develop bad habits, and then the coaching might not help him correct those habits, compounding the problem. I'm saying that both issues are probably present with the Mariners.
   50. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4453471)
Randal Grichuk


There's maybe a bit of an asterisk on that one. According to Eddie Bane, the Angels had Trout rated higher than Grichuk, but they expected Trout to be the tougher sign, and since they had back-to-back picks they took Grichuk first in order to give themselves a little more leverage in negotiations.

Is that actually true? Who knows? But it's what he said.
   51. Russ Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4453473)

The Pirates should trade for him. He'd fit in nicely there, as they openly do not care if you steal bases off them. (Or didn't; maybe with signing Martin they went back to caring after last year's LOLfest, I don't know.)


Martin has been amazing for the Pirates. Early (small-sample) catcher defensive ratings seem to hold this up. The gap between Martin and McKenry is almost a win (and it's only May) (and small sample size).

http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2013/05/23/fogging-the-measure-catcher-defense-ratings-may-2013-edition/

   52. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4453504)
The orioles should trade for him. They need a 2b, and have guys like Matusz and Arrieta, the pitching equivalents of Ackley. Matusz could thrive in Seattle.
   53. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4453516)
Just to provide an objective contemporaneous record on how at least one outlet who is pretty good at this viewed Ackley, here are Baseball Prospectus's past comments about him, snipped for relevance and so that I don't over-quote. The notion that Ackley wasn't a very good prospect seems revisionist history. Short story: BP viewed him highly, and thought the only question was how much power he developed, which could take him as a player from good to very good:

Before 2010: The second overall pick in the 2009 draft, Ackley has the ability to rocket through the system and to make his pro debut as early as this year. His combination of plate discipline, bat speed, and hand-eye coordination has scouts projecting him as a .300 hitter with a .400 on-base percentage annually, and you can throw plus-plus speed into the package as well. There is plenty of debate about his power, but given everything else he does well, power might just be gravy...

Before 2011, his first partial year in Seattle: In his first professional season, Ackley didn’t hit much like a second overall pick, but he recovered from a frightening .147/.289/.227 April in time to remind the Mariners of why they’d drafted him. His sweet lefty swing didn’t do much damage against same-handed pitchers, but even while struggling to learn a new position, Ackley walked more often than he struck out in the Southern League, offering a glimpse of the discipline and contact skills that have scouts sold on his future as a .300 average/.400 on-base percentage hitter. It’s not yet clear what lies in store for Ackley’s third slash stat, since he hasn’t mustered much power with a wood bat, but he did lead the Arizona Fall League (AFL) in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) by a wide margin. Of course, the list of those who slugged in the AFL is long and littered with hitters who never showed much pop elsewhere, but we’ll likely see Ackley in Seattle at some point this season.

Before 2012, his first full year: They say you're never as good as you look when you're going well, or as bad as you look in a slump. During Ackley's first two months in Seattle, he hit like Chase Utley: loads of walks, few strikeouts, power to all fields, and a .245 isolated power boosting his overall line to .315/.377/.559 on July 3. Then came the adjustment period and a .242/.327/.311 line the rest of the way... Ackley's overall season line is a good guess for what the next 16 years will hold, but he'll top that line if he continues to develop power. Ackley keeps his weight back better than he did when he was drafted as a front-foot hitter, and his power numbers had improved at every stop before his summer slump in Seattle...


Their 2013 comment is not online yet.
   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4453532)
Here's BP on Justin Smoak. It would be too long to quote the substance, but the short story is that they saw his warts, even through the years, but still felt that he would be a big time hitter. I don't have their 2013 comment handy, but here's up to before the 2012 season:

Before 2009: ...Think Justin Morneau with the ability to switch-hit —- he could be that scary.

Before 2010: His ideal-world projection is as a switch-hitting version of Justin Morneau with better defense, and that's just scary.

Before 2011: At 24, Smoak remains the offensive foundation of the Mariners’ future.

Before 2012: It's hard to know how much of Justin Smoak's mid-season struggles were related to injuries to both thumbs. The Mariners admitted to covering up one injury so pitchers couldn't exploit it. Smoak said at the end of the season it had affected his swing; Smoak's spray chart shows him hitting more balls the other way, especially from the left side, than he hit in 2010. What we know is that before his first thumb injury in late June, Smoak hit .260/.361/.480, and in his final 22 games, post-injuries, .301/.354/.438. Put those together, and it's a fine Safeco Field performance, even for a first baseman. This guesswork may not excuse his .130/.213/.176 line between healthy periods, but give him another year before writing him off; Smoak's career minor league numbers would be a terrible thing to waste.


What I had forgotten about Smoak, which points away from my Safeco theory -- which I still think is a reasonable theory -- Smoak had flopped in his Texas callup also.
   55. The Good Face Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4453534)
I don't know, I think he's got a decent shot assuming a typical decline. He'll have some very impressive counting stats for the traditional voter. He should finish this season (age 34) with ~2,400 hits and ~375 HR. He's won the past two GGs and has another two guaranteed years with a contending team. So put him at 2,700 hits, 400+ HR, and 5 or 6 GGs by the time he's 36, plus the gravy of his final few years. Even acknowledging how tough 3Bs have it, I think he should be in a good position to get the traditional vote.

I don't think there's any question he'll get the sabermetrically inclined vote given the defensive numbers. He's already at 66 WAR.


Yeah, an increasingly sabermetrically-inclined electorate would probably be favorably inclined towards Beltre's candidacy. He also makes for a compelling narrative since he's such a colorful, harmlessly eccentric guy. Unless he just falls off a cliff after this season, I think he eventually makes it in.
   56. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4453545)
Yeah, an increasingly sabermetrically-inclined electorate would probably be favorably inclined towards Beltre's candidacy. He also makes for a compelling narrative since he's such a colorful, harmlessly eccentric guy. Unless he just falls off a cliff after this season, I think he eventually makes it in.

He's going to have a fascinating case. I think he'll end up with at least one of the traditional milestone numbers (he should finish the year with close to 2,400 hits at age 34). As a still good third baseman with pop who doesn't walk a lot, he looks like a damn good bet to reach 3,000. But it won't be the counting stats that make him deserving, but the other things that the writers otherwise haven't done a good job appreciating.

I could see him being a thoroughly deserving player who gets elected, in large part, for the wrong reasons.

   57. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4453567)
This is currently the key if-then indicator for Beltre, of course:

Player          Rfield WAR/pos OPS+   PA   Age    G    H  HR  RBI  SB
Adrian Beltre      186    66.6  112 8919 19
-34 2167 2287 356 1246 115
Scott Rolen        175    69.9  122 8518 21
-37 2038 2077 316 1287 118 


And of course, Beltre could still go on to rack up quite a counting-stat advantage on Rolen. But if Rolen is ignored by the BBWAA, then it doesn't look good for Beltre unless that advantage is humongous.
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4453577)
But if Rolen is ignored by the BBWAA, then it doesn't look good for Beltre unless that advantage is humongous.


Don't you think that, by the time he's done, that counting stat advantage for Adrian will be humongous? Hell, it's already decent-sized, and he's just 34.
   59. The Good Face Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4453578)
And of course, Beltre could still go on to rack up quite a counting-stat advantage on Rolen. But if Rolen is ignored by the BBWAA, then it doesn't look good for Beltre unless that advantage is humongous.


The counting stat differential will be huge unless Beltre just falls apart in the very near future. A reasonable decline would leave him with ~700 more hits and ~100 home runs over Rolen; Beltre's durability has been a real asset for him. Rolen was a heck of a player, but he had a tough time staying in the lineup in his 30s.
   60. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4453592)
Beltre will be impossible to predict until the electorate makes up its mind about players of the sillyball era. If he were on the ballot right now we'd be treated to a lot of articles about how he was a late bloomer with a sudden career year when he was gunning for a new contract at the height of the steroids era, and you know what that means, don't you? He wouldn't get in, and it wouldn't tell us anything interesting about the electorate.
   61. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4453607)
He now has 103 games in Triple-A after 79 in Double-A, so he should have enough seasoning to be ready for the bigs.


And he's at .271/.358/.435 in those 103 AAA games (PCL)
Montero - A career .844 OPS AAA hitter which makes him by definition not a top hitting prospect and is still 23 which means he's also not yet a bust.

Smoak - a career .849 OPS minor league hitter and only .788 at the AAA level (and never young for his leagues). A 96 OPS+ MLB hitter his last three years, how could you expect much more? Question isn't whether he's a bust, its why he was a hyped 1B prospect at all with that bat.


1: Montero played in far less hitter friendly AAA environment than Smoak, and at a younger age, Montero was 11th in the LE in OPS at age 19, everyone above him was at least 3 years older; in AAA (IL not PCL) at age 20 he hit .289/.353/.517, the only comparable age 20 hitter in the IL that year was Freddie Freeman: .319/.378/.521, Gwinnett is a better hitter's park than Scranton, so if you normalize OPS into OPS+ they were actually in a dead heat, outside of that year Freeman was not as good a hitter in the Minors as Montero, but now has a career 113 MLB OPS+)

If you are going to find prospects by looking at minor league numbers, Montero was someone you'd find - his minor league hitting numbers when viewed in age/league contexts pretty much screamed "prospect."

Unfortunately he hasn't played as well as his minor league numbers, and looking at all his numbers suggest a hitter who peaked out at age 20

2: Smoak, I agree, in fact I'd say that his 96 MLB OPS+ is probably BETTER than someone looking at his minor league numbers *should* have reasonably expected

3: Ackley: he hit in 2011, he didn't hit in 2010, he didn't hit in 2012 and he hasn't hit in 2013, I don't know what he did in College, but in the context of his entire career his 2011 performance in Seattle looks a lot like Frenchy's 2005 performance in Atlanta. Anyway, was drafted in the 1st round (2nd overall), was ranked #11 by BA even before playing a single pro game, at 22 was a below average hitter in AAA (not by much) but somehow only lost one spot going from #11 to #12 (BA's top 10 for 2011 is gruesome when you get past the big 2 (Harper and Trout), Montero at 3, Domonic Brown at 4, Hosmer at 8, Moose Tacos at 9, Wil Myers is at 10, and seems to have an odd/even year pattern going


Of the 3 I view Montero as by FAR the bigger disappointment, looking at him at age 20 you could easily see a 120 OPS+ catcher, or a 130-150 OOPS+ 1B/DH type, now it looks like the Andy Marte career path is a not unlikely possibility.
Smoak? He was vastly overrated, never should have been seen as a potential star, basically a [very] poor man's version of Logan Morrison (who has not exactly been lighting it up in the MLB either)

   62. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4453611)
Don't you think that, by the time he's done, that counting stat advantage for Adrian will be humongous?

It's certainly possible. But on the "only got so many games in you" principle, Beltre might be nearer the cliff than we think. I've seen too many careers along the lines of Roberto Alomar or AROD to project Beltre into his late 30s with extreme confidence.

Now, as a Ranger fan, I am going to go bite my own tongue :)
   63. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4453621)
Top 10s in WAR and Offensive WAR:

Rolen, WAR: 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th. OWAR: 9th, 10th.
Beltre, WAR: 2nd, 4th, 4th, 8th, 8th, 10th. OWAR: 3rd, 4th, 8th.
   64. PreservedFish Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4453628)
Didn't Bret Boone have like 10,000 RBI in Safeco?
   65. Ron J2 Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4453630)
#13 As I've said many times, park factors work pretty well for value. But it's silly to argue that a given park affects every hitter equally. We absolutely know that plenty of players are hurt/helped far more than what the generic park factor would suggest.

We simply don't care about this when we're talking value and have an extremely poor understanding of how any given park will affect any given player. (and we don't have much beyond WAG for how a player will develop)

That said, a long standing theory of mine (that I haven't figured out how to test because I can't come up with a useful definition) is that extreme pitcher parks are toughest on the the guys with marginal power (what a friend used to call "warning track + a foot" power)


   66. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4453636)
You have know idea what the Mets or the Mariners are teaching their players, and are just assuming that it's some sort of bad voodoo.


Young Met hitters don't "under perform," like Seattle's, they are just not very good baseball players.

Ike Davis has vaporised this year, but still has a career OPS+ of 109 (highest BA ranking #62)
Dan Murphy: career 110 OPS+, not a ranked prospect
Lucas Duda: career 115 OPS+, not a ranked prospect
Ruben Tejada, hit .261/.318/.344 in AAA, now has an 82 MLB OPS+


   67. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4453637)
"warning track + a foot" power

Juan Gonzalez, of all people, had a tough first couple of years after the Rangers moved into the Ballpark. There may have been any number of factors at work, but watching him hit I couldn't help but think that the new park, which was a few feet deeper in LF and a few feet shallower in RF (Arlington Stadium was symmetrical), messed with his head to some unknown degree. He pulled a lot of balls to the LF warning track in 1994-95, and then seemed to relax and go with the pitch more; and then started hitting lots of home runs again.
   68. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4453654)
Didn't Bret Boone have like 10,000 RBI steroid injections in Safeco?

Or so it's been suggested. (Not that I was keeping notes, but offhand I think Boone was the first guy I heard linked to the practice who wasn't putting up Ruthian HR numbers.)
   69. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4453655)
Smoak's career minor league numbers would be a terrible thing to waste.


???

They weren't that good.

I'm not a scout obviously, so all I have to go on are the numbers, and Smoak's minor league numbers simply were not good especially for a 1B.

Morneau hit .356/.420/.597 in the midwest league at age 20 followed up by a .294/.385/.437 line in the FSL at age 20 (the FSL is a TERRIBLE place to hit, no one's raw numbers look good there) at 21 he hit .298/.356/.474 in a full year in the EL
at 22 he hit .268/.344/.498 in the IL, and then hit .306/.377/.615 in the IL at age 23. Morneau's career minor league line was .311/.379/.528, and he hit .292/.363/.561 in the IL

Smoak hit .279/.400/.449 in the minors, and .252/.381/.407 in AAA (the PCL) and mostly at older ages than Morneau adn in better hitting environments - his minor numbers simply were not close top Morneau's

Smoak's k/bb/hr numbers were similar to another prospect- Logan Morrison, (who peaked at #18 according to BA)
but Morrison hit .294/.409/.477 in AAA - in the IL, a tougher place to hit than the PCL where Smoak played. Morrison was also younger.

That Smoak was a highly ranked prospect is a fact, BA and BPro both ranked him highly, the question is whether or not he SHOULD have been so highly ranked/regarded



   70. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4453668)
#13 As I've said many times, park factors work pretty well for value. But it's silly to argue that a given park affects every hitter equally. We absolutely know that plenty of players are hurt/helped far more than what the generic park factor would suggest.


Yup, and Safeco had a reputation for being particularly unkind to righthanded power hitters. That may in fact demonstrate that some guys OPS+ are being artificially lowered, and that these individuals are in fact developing as hitters better than their numbers indicate (of course, if some players' park-adjusted numbers are being artificially suppressed, then some other players' park-adjusted numbers are going to be artificially lifted, and Seattle's offensive woes have been largely teamwide).

And I'll continue to insist that when it comes to developing the skill of hitting, rather than the outcomes of hitting, the park should play no factor. If your park's makeup is playing a negative role in your players' development, that's still a development issue. A good organization should be able to avoid that.



   71. Cowboy Popup Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4453675)
That Smoak was a highly ranked prospect is a fact, BA and BPro both ranked him highly, the question is whether or not he SHOULD have been so highly ranked/regarded

IIRC that question was asked frequently, well before Smoak started sucking in the Majors. I know I asked, primarily because I was irritated that he was ranked ahead of Montero, but more objective people also had plenty of questions about his ability to hit. I think there was a lot of projection going on with Smoak as a prospect that wasn't backed up by the numbers. Sometimes those projections work out because the tools just haven't translated yet, but the power everyone saw coming has not appeared yet.
   72. Sunday silence Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4453786)
As I've said many times, park factors work pretty well for value. But it's silly to argue that a given park affects every hitter equally. We absolutely know that plenty of players are hurt/helped far more than what the generic park factor would suggest.

We simply don't care about this when we're talking value and have an extremely poor understanding of how any given park will affect any given player. (and we don't have much beyond WAG for how a player will develop)


OK, so wouldnt a reasonable starting pt. be to compare home/road differentials for these guys to see what is happening? I guess there could still be problems where someone cant get out of their mind to pull the ball even when they're in a different park, but it might give an indication of how different (home) parks might affect guys on the same team differently.
   73. The Good Face Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4453806)
That said, a long standing theory of mine (that I haven't figured out how to test because I can't come up with a useful definition) is that extreme pitcher parks are toughest on the the guys with marginal power (what a friend used to call "warning track + a foot" power)


Pretty sure I read somewhere that over the last few years, Adrian Beltre has one of the shortest average home run distances. If true, it might explain a lot.
   74. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4453819)
Sometimes those projections work out because the tools just haven't translated yet, but the power everyone saw coming has not appeared yet.


Sean Burroughs says "hi"

I think there was a lot of projection going on with Smoak as a prospect that wasn't backed up by the numbers.


Obviously, also there was a lot of selectivity in how certain writers viewed his performances:
but the short story is that they saw his warts, even through the years, but still felt that he would be a big time hitter.


I don't read those BP excerpts quite the same way, what is see is an effort (perhaps unconscious) to minimize/explain away the warts. The writer likes Smoak, he's written highly before, he wants Smoak to succeed, he tries to minimize a period when Smoak sucked by saying he was hurt, then strongly implies that the other time periods are more representative of Smoak's abilities:
before his first thumb injury in late June, Smoak hit .260/.361/.480

his final 22 games, post-injuries, .301/.354/.438.


That's fanboy wishcasting, I've indulged in it myself every now and then when some prospect stubbornly refuses to play as well as I expected- you look for SIGNs that you were right, that the talent is there. Sometimes a thumb injury really may have impacted performance... but it's still wishcasting
   75. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4453827)
but Morrison hit .294/.409/.477 in AAA - in the IL, a tougher place to hit than the PCL where Smoak played.


Not arguing the basic point, but I need to point out that:

1. New Orleans is in the PCL.
2. The parks in which Smoak played his home games in the PCL - Oklahoma City and Tacoma - aren't great hitters parks, either (although they aren't as bad as New Orleans).

-- MWE
   76. Gaelan Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4453877)
This might not be the right thread for this but could someone explain to the resurrection of Vernon Wells.

While you are at it, Adam Lind is suddenly useful again.

Which is to say that it seems to me that the default condition in baseball is for players to have large, even wild, swings in performance. Given this it seems strange to attribute additional causal explanation to the park to whole classes of players over and above what a park factor might predict. Sure, Citifield may have adversely affected David Wright but that presumes there is an anomaly to be explained in the first place.

I think the real answer to these puzzles is that there is no such thing as "true talent." Once you realize that, and add in normal random variation, and the variations of results we observe make a great deal more sense.
   77. Greg Franklin Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4453906)
Buried in the MLB.com article on the move, and pulled out today is the fact that Eric Wedge has blamed Ackley's failure on "all this sabermetrics stuff" that got into Dustin's head.

Wedge was talking about Ackley's demotion to Triple-A and his mental approach, and he intimated that Ackley might have been too concerned with pitch selectivity and high on-base percentage, leading to a one-liner that hit on one of baseball's most intriguing ongoing philosophical battles.

"It's the new generation. It's all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean?" Wedge said. "People who haven't played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids' heads."
   78. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4453909)
Ackley might have been too concerned with pitch selectivity and high on-base percentage

Of course, he chose an odd way to execute this plan, since his walk rate has dropped like a stone since he got to the majors.

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