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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Remington: Jason Heyward has been a better rookie than Henry Aaron was

BZZT~~BZZT~~Someone alert kim pinson~~BZZT~~BZZT~~Thank You~~BZZT~~BZZT

That one player would be compared to the greatest player in his franchise’s history before ever playing a big league inning seems ridiculous. No one in Chicago said Starlin Castro was going to be the next Ernie Banks, and for all the hype Stephen Strasburg received, the only high-profile figure who suggested a parallel to Walter Johnson was Bob Costas.

But for some reason, Heyward kept drawing comparisons to not only the greatest Brave ever, but one of the best baseball players in the history of the game.

Here’s the really crazy thing, though. Heyward hasn’t been Henry Aaron this season. He’s actually been better. Just take a look at a comparison of their stats at age 20 years:

...Rookie status aside, Heyward is putting together one of the best seasons by any 20-year-old, period. If we expand that last list to include non-rookies, there have been only 35 players in baseball history who recorded an OPS of at least .750 in at least 400 plate appearances at the age of 20 or younger. Aaron is 29th of the 35 while Heyward is 11th. Of the 10 players ahead of him, seven are in the Hall of Fame. Of the other three, Alex Rodriguez will be in, Vada Pinson should be in, and Tony Conigliaro was on a Cooperstown path when his career was cut short by injury.

Not to put any additional pressure on Jason Heyward, but all those people predicting a Hall of Fame-style start to his career were right on the money. His rookie season has proven that all of those Aaron comparisons weren’t as silly as they first sounded.

Repoz Posted: September 08, 2010 at 11:49 AM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, hall of fame, history, projections, sabermetrics

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   1. TomH Posted: September 08, 2010 at 02:08 PM (#3635858)
Can we compare him to Vada Pinson instead? Orlando Cepeda? Or a few other guys who had fine seasons at 20 yrs old and DIDN'T go on to hold MLB records in HR, RBI and TB?
   2. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 02:44 PM (#3635896)
Can we compare him to Vada Pinson instead? Orlando Cepeda? Or a few other guys who had fine seasons at 20 yrs old and DIDN'T go on to hold MLB records in HR, RBI and TB?


no because where's the fun in that?

ok 1947-2010 most WAR (just ebcasue murray chass hate sit) at age 20:
Rk    Player    WAR/pos    Year    Age
1    Alex Rodriguez    9.4    1996    20
2    Al Kaline    9.0    1955    20
3    Mickey Mantle    6.6    1952    20
4    Vada Pinson    6.3    1959    20
5    Frank Robinson    6.2    1956    20
6    Johnny Bench    4.7    1968    20
7    Ken Griffey    4.6    1990    20
8    Claudell Washington    4.6    1975    20
9    Roberto Alomar    3.8    1988    20
10    Jason Heyward    3.7    2010    20
11    Adrian Beltre    3.7    1999    20
12    Willie Mays    3.5    1951    20
13    Andruw Jones    3.2    1997    20
14    Butch Wynegar    3.2    1976    20
15    Joe Torre    2.7    1961    20
16    Bill Mazeroski    2.6    1957    20
17    Orlando Cepeda    2.5    1958    20
18    Elvis Andrus    2.4    2009    20
19    Tony Conigliaro    2.4    1965    20
20    Eddie Mathews    2.3    1952    20
21    Alan Trammell    2.2    1978    20
22    Bob Horner    2.1    1978    20
23    Curt Flood    2.0    1958    20
24    Rick Manning    1.9    1975    20
25    Jose Reyes    1.8    2003    20
Rk    Player    WAR
/pos    Year    Age
26    Ivan Rodriguez    1.8    1992    20
27    Bob Bailey    1.8    1963    20
28    Cesar Cedeno    1.7    1971    20
29    Mike Stanton    1.6    2010    20
30    Clint Hurdle    1.6    1978    20
31    Buddy Bell    1.6    1972    20
32    Bill Russell    1.6    1969    20
33    Hank Aaron    1.6    1954    20
34    Ruben Sierra    1.5    1986    20
35    Rennie Stennett    1.4    1971    20
36    Gregg Jefferies    1.3    1988    20
37    Milt May    1.1    1971    20
38    Greg Luzinski    1.1    1971    20
39    Ron Santo    1.1    1960    20
40    Luis Castillo    1.0    1996    20
41    Terry Puhl    1.0    1977    20
42    Robin Yount    1.0    1976    20
43    Willie Davis    0.9    1960    20
44    Andres Blanco    0.8    2004    20
45    Rick Ankiel    0.8    2000    20
46    Wil Cordero    0.8    1992    20
47    Dwight Gooden    0.8    1985    20
48    Garry Templeton    0.8    1976    20
49    Omar Infante    0.7    2002    20
50    Carl Crawford    0.7    2002    20 

BTW that's hitting for Gooden and Ankiel- Gooden's age 20 WAR as a pitcher was 11.7
   3. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 08, 2010 at 03:21 PM (#3635924)
murray chass hate sit

If anyone wants to get together and have one of these, I'm there.
   4. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: September 08, 2010 at 03:46 PM (#3635948)
Any batting list on which Rennie Stennett is ranked only two positions behind Hank Aaron is okay by me. 7-for-7, b!tches!
   5. Cooper Teenoh Posted: September 08, 2010 at 04:42 PM (#3636020)
I know that I've looked at the stat line for Alex Rodriguez's 20 year old season before, but mercy, that's still an amazing line. Somehow, I had it in my mind that he only hit for high average that season, and the power began to show up the next year.

Uh, no. 54 doubles, leading the league. 36 homers.
   6. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:15 PM (#3636076)
It's like I've been saying all along, we've got another Claudell Washington on our hands!
   7. TomH Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:22 PM (#3636088)
Mike "Hammer" or "Bad Mike" Stanton!
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:25 PM (#3636092)
Can we compare him to Vada Pinson instead? Orlando Cepeda? Or a few other guys who had fine seasons at 20 yrs old and DIDN'T go on to hold MLB records in HR, RBI and TB?


Sure, we could, but it wouldn't be as accurate a comparison. Pinson was a CF, Cepeda was a 1B, and Aaron was (like Heyward) a RF. Not to mention the whole Braves thing.
   9. rr Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:26 PM (#3636097)
Cool photos in the link--one of Aaron in '54 or '55 looks like.
   10. John DiFool2 Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:47 PM (#3636131)
It's like I've been saying all along, we've got another Claudell Washington on our hands!


[Procrastination Mode]Yeah, I've been meaning to do that big uber-study where I try to discover the difference between a young player truly developing, vs. him "merely" having a fluke season, which is closely related to the reasons why a player like Washington/Pinson/Templeton never develops from his 20 y/o base.[/PM]
   11. DCW3 Posted: September 08, 2010 at 05:53 PM (#3636138)
Sure, we could, but it wouldn't be as accurate a comparison. Pinson was a CF, Cepeda was a 1B, and Aaron was (like Heyward) a RF.

Although Aaron actually played left field in his rookie year.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:00 PM (#3636147)
Although Aaron actually played left field in his rookie year.


Yeah, and Pinson did have like 500 career games in RF. But you get what I'm saying, right?
   13. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:07 PM (#3636154)
Sure, we could, but it wouldn't be as accurate a comparison. Pinson was a CF, Cepeda was a 1B, and Aaron was (like Heyward) a RF.


Although Aaron actually played left field in his rookie year.

Yeah, I was gonna say that.

Moreover, Aaron and Heyward aren't similar players at all in terms of build and style. Aaron was 6-feet-even, and was quite slender as a young player, and a free-swinging, contact-oriented right-handed batter. Heyward is 6-foot-5, enormous, and a patient, high-strikeout, left-handed-hitting power hitter. Heyward has much more plate discipline than either one of them, but the guys he seems a much better comp to are Dave Parker and Willie Stargell.
   14. Arthur Pewty Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:17 PM (#3636170)
This is an instance where a combination of stats and scouting would be useful. Also, WAR doesn't tell you anything about the shape of their stats. At least Claudell was LH, but they really aren't the same kind of player. To me, when I see him hit, Heyward reminds me of Fred McGriff. McGriff didn't really get going until 23-24, but they have the same sort of statistical profile. For Heyward to wind up with McGriff's career would not be a disappointment at all.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:23 PM (#3636176)
To me, when I see him hit, Heyward reminds me of Fred McGriff. McGriff didn't really get going until 23-24, but they have the same sort of statistical profile. For Heyward to wind up with McGriff's career would not be a disappointment at all.

That's a good call. He's kind of McGriff with a better set of wheels. Willie McCovey is another good comp, at least as a hitter (McCovey was beyond disastrous as a defensive OF).
   16. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:24 PM (#3636177)
where I try to discover the difference between a young player truly developing, vs. him "merely" having a fluke season, which is closely related to the reasons why a player like Washington/Pinson/Templeton never develops from his 20 y/o base


1: Pinson was older than his reported age- by two years I believe, making his peak age 26 rather than 24- still an early bloomer/early decliner, but not so extreme

2: Claudell Washington: I'm inclined to think that his age 19 performance was sample size fluke, and his age 20 performance was a BABIP driven fluke (though he never played in AAA, he MURDERED AA at age 19...) take out age 19 & 20 and his career arc looks perfectly normal. I will say this, I watched him closely when he was a Met for half a season (back then I literally watched every inning of every game) HE LOOKED LIKE BASEBALL PLAYER- I mean if you saw him and didn't know his name or stats you'd think you were looking at one of the elite stars of the game- he was for time to time a good player but his actual performance never seemed to match what it looked like he could/should be (Darrel Boston was similar that way- not as good a career as Washington though)

3: Templeton- not a fluke- his age 23 & 24 were just as good- just never developed as a hitter, poor pitch recognition, poor plate discipline and just a slight loss of speed was catastrophic- here's a nutty comparison- Frenchy... The career making difference was that while originally erratic in the field, Templeton settled down to be a reasonable starting SS fielding wise- and back in the 80s teams would put up with 80 OPS+ SSs (whereas they wouldn't and won't now, put up with 80 OPS+ OFs as readily)

Now, how can you look at a 20 year old without hindsight and predict a career path? I don't know, but I do know that it seemed that scouts THOUGHT at the time that all three would or should have developed from the points they entered the league
   17. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:25 PM (#3636179)
Heyward is 6-foot-5, enormous, and a patient, high-strikeout, left-handed-hitting power hitter. Heyward has much more plate discipline than either one of them, but the guys he seems a much better comp to are Dave Parker and Willie Stargell.


To me, when I see him hit, Heyward reminds me of Fred McGriff.


Larry Walker. Only, 2-3 years ahead of him developmently, plus three inches of height/weight.
   18. Kyle S at work Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:26 PM (#3636181)
Steve: Heyward already has more walks this season than Parker had in any season, and more than Stargell had in all but three seasons (he's likely to pass at least one and possibly two of those). Also, Stargell's first season that was demonstrably better than Heyward's year to date was his age 26 season, as was Parker's (Parker's age 24 season was about as valuable as Heyward's age 20 season).

Finally, Heyward strikes out in 21.5% of his plate appearances (19.9% since the start of May) vs. a league average of 19.1%. Is that really a "high strikeout" hitter? Another data point: Bonds struck out in 21% of his PAs his rookie year against a league average of 15.7%.

To me, the most important data point is the .392 OBP. That's 18% above park adjusted league average (.331). How many 20-21 year old rookies have a 118 *OBP+ (to invent a stat) in >500 PAs?
   19. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:27 PM (#3636182)
1: Pinson was older than his reported age- by two years I believe, making his peak age 26 rather than 24- still an early bloomer/early decliner, but not so extreme

Has this been verified? I recall his daughter joining in on one of the HOM threads, and insisting that his younger age was legit, as far as she knew.
   20. Cabbage Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:31 PM (#3636191)
Larry Walker. Only, 2-3 years ahead of him developmently, plus three inches of height/weight.

and the obvious difference in, uh, family history. No need to tip-toe around the fact that Walker is Canadian.
   21. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:31 PM (#3636190)
Steve: Heyward already has more walks this season than Parker had in any season, and more than Stargell had in all but three seasons (he's likely to pass at least one and possibly two of those).

Perhaps that's why I made the point that "Heyward has much more plate discipline than either one of them." :-)

Finally, Heyward strikes out in 21.5% of his plate appearances (19.9% since the start of May) vs. a league average of 19.1%. Is that really a "high strikeout" hitter?

Pretty much by definition, yes. Higher than the league average would be "high."

It's in distinct contrast to Aaron, who struck out far lower than the league average as a young player.
   22. Kyle S at work Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:36 PM (#3636196)
I don't think Aaron is a great comp for him; I just don't think the Pirates you picked are either. Also, I reserve "high" and "low" for significant deviations around average. Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds are "high strikeout" hitters. Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo are "low strikeout" guys. People near the average are "average".
   23. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:40 PM (#3636199)
Ok, I tried generating comps on PI, age 20, OBP between .375 and .410, Slg between .450 and .500
and...
1 guy- Jason Heyward...

Tried ages 20 & 21
Rk    Player    BA    OBP    SLG    PA    Year    Age    Tm    Lg
1    Mickey Mantle    .295    .398    .497    540    1953    21    NYY    AL
2    Jason Heyward    .285    .392    .474    520    2010    20    ATL    NL
3    Carlos May    .281    .385    .488    434    1969    21    CHW    AL
4    Tom Brunansky    .272    .377    .471    545    1982    21    MIN    AL
5    Curt Blefary    .260    .381    .470    561    1965    21    BAL    AL 


May is considered by many to be as big of a bust as guy with 4000+ MLB PAs (111 OPS+) can be considered... never developed
Brunansky never developed but was good enough to hang on for 6000 PAs- not nearly as athletic as Heyward
Blefary- bust, great for two years, regressed rapidly- no fielding ability- not a good athlete

The 60s & 70s Orioles seemed to have lot of guys like Blefary (Rettunmund, Earl Williams) who were raking studs for 2-3 years and then went poof- Blefary was different - he was really young- a lot of the others were 25-27 year old AAAAers whom Weaver did a real good job of spotting for 350 PAs or so a year.

age 20 ISO:
Rk    Player    ISO    PA    Year    Age    Tm    Lg
1    Al Kaline    .206    681    1955    20    DET    AL
2    Eddie Mathews    .205    593    1952    20    BSN    NL
3    Orlando Cepeda    .201    644    1958    20    SFG    NL
4    Willie Mays    .198    524    1951    20    NYG    NL
5    Vada Pinson    .193    706    1959    20    CIN    NL
6    Jason Heyward    .189    520    2010    20    ATL    NL
7    Andruw Jones    .185    467    1997    20    ATL    NL
8    Ken Griffey    .181    666    1990    20    SEA    AL
9    Hank Aaron    .167    509    1954    20    MLN    NL 
   24. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:42 PM (#3636202)
I just don't think the Pirates you picked are either.


a young Parker is not a bad physical match

I don't see the Stargell comp at all though
   25. Don Malcolm Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:43 PM (#3636204)
How many 20-21 year old rookies have a 118 *OBP+ (to invent a stat) in >500 PAs?

Ted Williams. Mel Ott (though he was not a rookie at age 20).

Curt Blefary (age-21 rookie).
   26. BDC Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:45 PM (#3636206)
raking studs for 2-3 years and then went poof

I cannot believe this got past the nanny.
   27. BDC Posted: September 08, 2010 at 06:49 PM (#3636214)
How many 20-21 year old rookies have a 118 *OBP+ (to invent a stat) in >500 PAs?

Lloyd Waner, Richie Ashburn, and Albert Pujols would also make that list, probably. How's that for a miscellaneous collection.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:13 PM (#3636288)
Take a guess what the criteria for this list are (name, age, OPS+):

Strawberry, 21, 134
Heyward, 20, 133
J Upton, 21, 126
Monday, 21, 121
Canseco, 21, 116
Stanton, 20, 114
J Upton, 20, 106
M Cabrera, 20, 106
Swoboda, 21, 102

Spot the HoFer!!

Here's a list that I have some faith in that does suggest Heyward as future HoFer (all 19-20) (OPS+):

Griffey, 135
Heyward, 133
Pinson, 128
Mays, 120
Mantle, 117
Bench, 116
Griffey, 108
Aaron, 104
Beltre, 101
Santo, 96
Powell, 95
AJones, 93

The downside being that, other than Aaron and B Powell, they all played defensive positions at that age (which is a little unexpected).

Anyway, Heyward may be better than Aaron at age 20. Hank then went on to post OPS+ of 153 over the next 3 seasons, all with BAs over 300 (leading the league once), a season with a 600 SLG (which did not lead the league!), and leading the league twice in TB. At age 23, he led the league in R, RBI, HR, TB and won the MVP.

Get back to me with the Heyward-Aaron comps after age 23. But if you want appropriate HoF comps for Heyward, based on his age 20 season, I suggest Mantle, Reggie and Thome.
   29. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:31 PM (#3636314)
I don't see the Stargell comp at all though

It isn't a great comp. I would think that the blindingly obvious main point about Heyward is that there aren't many good ones; that's a sign of how excellent he is.

Clearly Stargell wasn't nearly as good as Heyward at this age. But he resembled him physically: big, tall, strong lefty hitter and thrower with abundant power. Stargell ran pretty well when he was young, and threw extremely well; he'd have been a right fielder on just about any team that didn't have some guy named Clemente.
   30. flournoy Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:40 PM (#3636330)
The downside being that, other than Aaron and B Powell, they all played defensive positions at that age (which is a little unexpected).


I think Heyward would be fine in center. (And as a left hander, that's the only "defensive" position that he would/could play.) He has good speed, a good arm, and decent instincts. He wouldn't be brilliant, but I wouldn't be surprised if he could manage a league average center field. He doesn't look like a good long term candidate for center, though, and that's my guess as to why the Braves haven't used him there.
   31. ursus arctos Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:43 PM (#3636333)
Carlos May would likely have developed better if he hadn't blown off his thumb while using a mortar with the National Guard.
   32. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:57 PM (#3636347)
I reserve "high" and "low" for significant deviations around average. Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds are "high strikeout" hitters. Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo are "low strikeout" guys. People near the average are "average".

At the risk of belaboring this point: it's important to remove pitchers from the data when determining league-average rates for hitters. I don't know what it is so far in 2010, but in 2009, the NL-average strikeout rate for non-pitcher hitters was 17.5%. Heyward's rate of 21.5% is meaningfully above that.

I get that we're in a very high-strikeout era. But the fact remains that projected to 162 games, Heyward's strikeout rate will yield 152 strikeouts this year. It isn't the most in the league, but there is simply no way in the world to accurately characterize a guy striking out 152 times as anything other than "high-strikeout."
   33. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 08:58 PM (#3636349)
Carlos May would likely have developed better if he hadn't blown off his thumb while using a mortar with the National Guard.

Yeah, that was kind of an issue. May was able to keep on hitting for a good average, but the injury significantly depleted his power.
   34. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: September 08, 2010 at 09:00 PM (#3636354)
If only that bat guy had been around to invent a mortar.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 08, 2010 at 09:27 PM (#3636371)
Clearly Stargell wasn't nearly as good as Heyward at this age. But he resembled him physically: big, tall, strong lefty hitter and thrower with abundant power.


When I look at Heyward at the plate, I kind of see a left-handed Dave Winfield, in terms of size and stance and such.

Just throwing it out there.
   36. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 09:32 PM (#3636374)
Carlos May would likely have developed better if he hadn't blown off his thumb while using a mortar with the National Guard.


Frequently mentioned on Yankee Broadcasts during his stint with the Yankees- but at the time his detractors never seemed to cut him any slack for it... He was "supposed" to be soooo much better than his brother*, but...

BTW he put up that 137 OPS+ in his age 20 year AFTER blowing his thumb off.
Had a very stiff looking swing from what I remember, very level, almost a reverse uppercut at times- I haven't looked at his GB/FB ratios but I'd guess he didn't hit flyballs nearly enough to be a HR threat in any event- but he looked powerful.

*Bill James has expounded at length on his theory that younger brothers of baseball players get overrated as prospects because they tend to have a lot of skill for their age as a result of playing with/against their older siblings- but it doesn't really mean they have upside above that level- he gave two examples- Carlos May and Jesus Alou- younger brothers who the scouts loved more than their ultimately more successful older siblings....

Personally I think May's career would had to have been different with an intact thumb.
   37. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 09:36 PM (#3636379)
When I look at Heyward at the plate, I kind of see a left-handed Dave Winfield, in terms of size and stance and such.

That I don't see. Winfield was slim-waisted and long-limbed, almost gangly. Heyward is much more thick and muscular. To me he far more resembles Parker.
   38. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 09:39 PM (#3636382)
BTW he put up that 137 OPS+ in his age 20 year AFTER blowing his thumb off.

That's incorrect. The mortar accident took place on a weekend National Guard stint in August of '69, and prematurely ended May's season. All of his stats 1970 and forward are post-injury.

EDIT: And he was 21 that season, not 20.
   39. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:00 PM (#3636406)
Heyward is putting together one of the best seasons by any 20-year-old, period. If we expand that last list to include non-rookies, there have been only 35 players in baseball history who recorded an OPS of at least .750 in at least 400 plate appearances at the age of 20 or younger.


One of them is the Cubs SS, who happens to be 7.5 months younger than Heyward. Heyward turned 21 a month ago. Castro won't be 21 until a few days before opening day 2011.
   40. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:01 PM (#3636410)
That's incorrect. The mortar accident took place on a weekend National Guard stint in August of '69, and prematurely ended May's season.


really, if so my bad
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:05 PM (#3636413)
One of them is the Cubs SS, who happens to be 7.5 months younger than Heyward. Heyward turned 21 a month ago. Castro won't be 21 until a few days before opening day 2011.


I'd still prefer Heyward because his production is solid across the board, good power, patience, contact, so far Starlin's production is tied to his batting average- and if he needs to hit .317 to reach a 107 OPS+ that becomes an issue if it turns out his "true" batting average is .280 or so... (of couse he has plenty of time to learn to take walks and drive the ball)
   42. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:12 PM (#3636420)
really, if so my bad

I'm an old enough fart to remember it happening, but in any case, from May's b-r Bullpen page:

May lost his right thumb to a mortar accident while on Marine Reserve duty in August of 1969
   43. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:14 PM (#3636423)
so far Starlin's production is tied to his batting average- and if he needs to hit .317 to reach a 107 OPS+ that becomes an issue if it turns out his "true" batting average is .280 or so... (of couse he has plenty of time to learn to take walks and drive the ball)


Well, there's that whole playing SS thing...
   44. Justin T has a centaur for a mentor Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3636428)
Heyward is much more thick and muscular. To me he far more resembles Parker.

Funny, whenever I watch Heyward hit I almost always think "Dang, it doesn't seem like a guy that slim would hit like him."

Really, he is surely muscular but I don't agree with thick at all.
   45. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 10:33 PM (#3636440)
Really, he is surely muscular but I don't agree with thick at all.

Only in comparison with Winfield, particularly the young Winfield. "More" thick.
   46. ursus arctos Posted: September 08, 2010 at 11:22 PM (#3636479)
I'm also old enough to remember it happening, and it will always be among the most memorable sports injuries of my childhood.

Not Kenny Hubbs' plane crash memorable, but still something that caused shivers and involuntary flexing of the hands.
   47. Steve Treder Posted: September 08, 2010 at 11:59 PM (#3636503)
still something that caused shivers and involuntary flexing of the hands.

You ain't kidding. He "blew his thumb off." Kind of a galaxy beyond your average hamstring or ACL issue.
   48. larkin4HoF Posted: September 09, 2010 at 08:19 AM (#3636689)
When I look at Heyward at the plate, I kind of see a left-handed Dave Winfield, in terms of size and stance and such.

Just throwing it out there.


I am in no way an expert on studying swings, but when I see Heyward's swing and how the ball jumps off his bat) I think of Ted Williams.
   49. Walt Davis Posted: September 09, 2010 at 11:05 AM (#3636703)
When I look at Heyward at the plate, I kind of see a left-handed Dave Winfield, in terms of size and stance and such.

I think I said that between games 1 and 2 of the season. :-) Yeah, Heyward's bigger ... but almost all players are bigger now than they were (oh god!) 37 years ago. But, sure, Parker, McCovey, Thome are good physical comps too.

He is "high" strikeout. "High" strikeout really has little to do with era or league average. It's just math. It has to do with what you've got to hit when you hit the ball in order to put up average/good/great numbers. It is very hard to put up HoF numbers when you K at a rate of 1 per 4 AB or worse. Reggie Jackson is the only one so far, Jim Thome will probably join him, McGwire would have and Sosa might. Edmonds (a CF) might make it. But even Mike Schmidt K'd less than 1 per 4 AB. Heck, P-I turns up only 9 players in MLB history with that kind of K-rate and at least 7000 PAs.

Now, of course, Heyward's K rate might improve. And, of course, as K-rates have gone up, so has power and on-contact production -- i.e. we will see more HoF careers with high K-rates. Heyward clearly has a chance to be one of those guys even if his K-rate stays where it is. But I still say that, based on what we know (which, of course, isn't a lot), he's much more likely to have a HoVG career.

There's also this: starting May 5 (after a HR binge), Heyward has hit 284/388/438 with just 8 HR in 420 PA. I know he's just 20 but that's not impressive power for a guy his size. And that's based on a 354 BABIP which is likely flukishly high.

And looking at his K-rate post-May 1 is kind of "cheating." He had an amazingly low K-rate in May. From June 1 he has 76 K in 278 AB (or in 23.4% of his PA if you prefer) ... and sporting a 365 BABIP.

Since his first month, Heyward's success is predominantly BABIP-driven (and walks). If you're worried about that with Castro, you should be worried about that with Heyward. Given their current difference in K-rates, the chances that Castro is a true 280 hitter (which is probably a pretty high chance) is about the same as the chance that Heyward is really a 250 hitter.

Wow, since the AS break, Heyward has a 412 BABIP. He's also been a much better hitter with a much higher walk rate on the road -- surely just flukish but weird.

Now, the "upside" is that the second list of mine was <=20 year-old guys with an ISO between 150 and 200. That list suggests he will develop big power down the road which he will need to do to become a great hitter with that kind of K-rate. (Another not-horrible Braves great comp is Eddie Mathews.)
   50. Ron Johnson Posted: September 09, 2010 at 02:40 PM (#3636880)
Bonds struck out in 21% of his PAs his rookie year against a league average of 15.7%.


Jim Rooker after Barry Bonds' rookie season.

"He won't swing at bad pitches -- his strikeouts are because he just misses good ones"

"His swing is still a bit too long and looping" (that's changed of course -- RNJ)

"[...] pitchers found that he couldn't cover the inside corner. Once he learns this, he should develop into more of a pull hitter who will power 30-40 home runs a year"

It's quite rare (at least in what's available to the general public) to see specific weaknesses identified and corrected in fairly short order. Bonds would only be useful in talking about a career arc if

a) Heyward has some fairly easy to identify weakness
b) It's correctable
c) It's corrected

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