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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Yankee Analysts: Jesus Montero’s Declining Stock

In the case of Jesus Montero, I think we are now getting enough data to see what others may have missed.

...The four year trend line is headed straight down in OBP, SLG, wOBA and wRC+. As the competition he’s faced has improved, the concerns about plate discipline and pitchers exploiting his aggressiveness have come to pass. Since peaking in High-A in 2009 his results have gone down annually when you look at his advanced numbers. This is not one bad season, its a manifestation of an underlying trend that’s becoming more evident as the sample gets larger. If anything, Jesus has been lucky with the bat this year. His .346 BABIP is higher than it was in AA or last year in AAA, though it has to be noted that 09 was a split season between two levels and it’s very tough to come up with a reliable xBABIP for a player in the minor leagues.

Another disturbing trend is his exploding strikeout rate. He appeared to be improving in that area in his initial promotion to AA, but his K% has almost DOUBLED in the past two seasons. That’s not an accident, pitchers have found holes in his swing and have exploited them mercilessly. These are minor league pitchers with minor league stuff and minor league scouting reports. There’s no publicly available Pitch Type Value numbers, spray charts, Inside Edge hot/cold zones. We can only imagine what big league pitchers with their experience, ability and the resources available to them would do to Mr Montero. A 22.3 K% would be even higher at the big league level, and looking at the MLB leaders guys like that who don’t field their position well typically provide very little value to their team.

Thanks to Coot Zeal.

Repoz Posted: July 23, 2011 at 03:09 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, minor leagues, projections, prospect reports, sabermetrics, scouting, yankees

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   1. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: July 23, 2011 at 03:35 PM (#3883819)
Or he could just need some time
   2. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: July 23, 2011 at 03:53 PM (#3883822)
To save you time from clicking...

Jesus Montero sucks because in '09 when he was promoted from A+ to AA his numbers went down. In addition, since reaching AAA he has never made an adjustment and his numbers have gone down continuously except for the time he did make an adjustment and went ape #### on the IL to close '10 but that doesn't count because second half minor league numbers, such as the time his numbers went down in the second half of the '09 minor league season, don't count.

EDIT: Which is not to say that Montero's stock has not dropped any, but...this blog post is just ####### terrible.
   3. alkeiper Posted: July 23, 2011 at 04:11 PM (#3883826)
I think the strain of catching hurts Montero's production. That's just an uninformed guess. I do know watching Montero hit though that his vision and discipline as as good as always. He's still going to be a very good hitter, but they need to get him out from behind the plate already.
   4. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 23, 2011 at 04:54 PM (#3883840)
I still believe!
   5. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 23, 2011 at 05:08 PM (#3883846)
I'm a little concerned. The 'he's young for his level trap' can be dangerous (see Marte, Andy). Generally I prefer guys to be young for their level and to be hitting the snot out of the ball, not young for his level and doing relatively well (which was what Marte was doing). Obviously not time to give up on him, but maybe time to ratchet down his prospect standing a touch.
   6. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: July 23, 2011 at 05:16 PM (#3883849)
Damn, Montero is still only 21? I'd still be more concerned about his defense. I doubt his hitting is what's going to keep him from MLB.
   7. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: July 23, 2011 at 08:58 PM (#3883939)
Man, an over-hyped Yankee prospect who never manages to be quite as good as the hype surrounding him? I wouldn't ever have believed this could happen again after Joba and Hughes and, you know, all of them.
   8. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: July 23, 2011 at 09:15 PM (#3883941)
Man, an over-hyped Yankee prospect who never manages to be quite as good as the hype surrounding him? I wouldn't ever have believed this could happen again after Joba and Hughes and, you know, all of them.


The funny thing is if they're underhyped they become stars. Cano, Ian Kennedy, even Wang was very good for a little bit.
   9. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 23, 2011 at 10:29 PM (#3883952)
A 22.3 K% would be even higher at the big league level, and looking at the MLB leaders guys like that who don’t field their position well typically provide very little value to their team.


There are 9 AL players this season with higher K rates than that, and 4 are in the top third of the league in offensive value (Reynolds, Granderson, Cruz and Avilia), enough to probably offset any defensive limitations (and BJ Upton is a little above average).

Not sure what the translation from his league to the AL is, but it you can easily still be a plus bat in the Majors with a 24-28% K rate. And if you stuck any of those bats at catcher you'd have a monster offensive force at that position.

And of course his K% for his minor league career is probably 15% if you don't include this year. So what is his real projected K rate in the AL at ages 24-30?

So essentially the article is saying that a guy who has folded, spindled, and mutilated pitchers every year at every single level of the minors up to AAA is now struggling in a second run at AAA in a half season, so he must be toast. Obviously it can't be that he was simply unlucky over the huge sample size of 300 PAs (and BABIP isn't the be all end all measure of luck) or related to injury, or girlfriend problems or family illness/issues.

And the average age in the International League is 26.7 years. Jesus Montero is one of the youngest players in the league, and the youngest on the Scranton roster by 2 years.

Clearly he has no future.
   10. Steve S. of TYA Posted: July 24, 2011 at 01:47 AM (#3884082)
Not sure what the translation from his league to the AL is, but it you can easily still be a plus bat in the Majors with a 24-28% K rate.


You can, but you need to walk a lot or have ridiculous power and his OBP/SLG are both trending downward. Not just this year, but steadily for 3 straight seasons. K% is tending upward over same time frame. Looks like a hitter who's not just having a down year, but slowly getting exposed.
   11. Steve S. of TYA Posted: July 24, 2011 at 01:48 AM (#3884084)
Thanks for the link Repoz, always appreciated.
   12. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 24, 2011 at 02:36 AM (#3884128)
You can, but you need to walk a lot or have ridiculous power and his OBP/SLG are both trending downward. Not just this year, but steadily for 3 straight seasons. K% is tending upward over same time frame. Looks like a hitter who's not just having a down year, but slowly getting exposed.


It's pretty shoddy analysis when you mislead and misdescribe facts in order to reach the conclusion you wanted in the first place.

His OBP & SLG shot up in 2009 over 2008. It's only trended down over two partial "years" that also include a move from A-/AA ball to AAA.
   13. Steve S. of TYA Posted: July 24, 2011 at 03:03 AM (#3884140)
It's pretty shoddy analysis when you mislead and misdescribe facts in order to reach the conclusion you wanted in the first place.

His OBP & SLG shot up in 2009 over 2008. It's only trended down over two partial "years" that also include a move from A-/AA ball to AAA.


Again, since being promoted from High A his OBP and SLG have trended downward, and his K% is roughly double what it was in 2009. High A to AA is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors, you can't combine the two and dismiss the difference in the level of competition as if it doesn't exist.
   14. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: July 24, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#3884162)
Again, since being promoted from High A his OBP and SLG have trended downward, and his K% is roughly double what it was in 2009. High A to AA is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors, you can't combine the two and dismiss the difference in the level of competition as if it doesn't exist.

The fact that you can, in one sentence, mention that his numbers took a hit from A+ to AA and then, in the next, mention that A+ to AA "is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors"...
   15. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: July 24, 2011 at 04:40 AM (#3884166)
The fact that you can, in one sentence, mention that his numbers took a hit from A+ to AA and then, in the next, mention that A+ to AA "is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors"...


Germans? Pearl Harbor???
   16. Steve S. of TYA Posted: July 24, 2011 at 05:03 AM (#3884174)
The fact that you can, in one sentence, mention that his numbers took a hit from A+ to AA and then, in the next, mention that A+ to AA "is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors"...

..and they declined further in his next jump from AA to AAA. And even more when he repeated AAA. As I said in the post, at some point you'd like to see him show the ability to make adjustments and maintain his production. He hasn't shown that ability. Hence, the title of the piece. If you're OK with players that peak in A-Ball, then apparently that's the heart of our disagreement.
   17. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: July 24, 2011 at 05:13 AM (#3884176)
..and they declined further in his next jump from AA to AAA.

Oh, so in the first year in which he was playing C full-time his offensive numbers dipped? Weird...

As I said in the post, at some point you'd like to see him show the ability to make adjustments and maintain his production. He hasn't shown that ability.

'10 2nd half: .351/.396/.684

If you're OK with players who peaking in A-Ball, then apparently that's the heart of our disagreement.

As someone who is all for dealing Montero in the right trade I just think you wrote a piece that was either poorly researched and shoddily put together or intellectually dishonest.
   18. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 24, 2011 at 06:46 AM (#3884178)
The best tack for you to take at this point is to say, my mistake, I made a surface observation that really wasn't as strong as I originally thought it was. Instead of digging yourself deeper into that pit of intellectual dishonesty.

Again, since being promoted from High A his OBP and SLG have trended downward, and his K% is roughly double what it was in 2009. High A to AA is considered one of the biggest jumps in the minors, you can't combine the two and dismiss the difference in the level of competition as if it doesn't exist.


You are using a K rate produced over only 323 PAs this year, while ignoring his previous 504 AAA PAs. And then you ignore the fact that 2009 was only 379 PAs and was by far his career low K%, his previous career average was 14.6%. Even including that magic year, his career K rate before AAA averaged 13.8%. And his career AAA K rate is 19.6%. That's no where near "roughly double", but apparently "roughly 40%" wasn't alarming sounding enough for you.

So you cherry picked the absolute best possible data points for your premise, then added a dollop of hyperbole.

Then you entirely skirt the question of whether he should be expected to maintain his rate states like a metronome while rapidly ascending to much tougher leagues as a very young player.

There is no doubt Montero is struggling at the plate this year, as a very young AAA prospect. It should be a concern for the Yankees. But shame on your for cherry picking data points just to be able to cry wolf and attract more page views to your crappy blog.
   19. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 24, 2011 at 07:00 AM (#3884181)
If you're OK with players that peak in A-Ball, then apparently that's the heart of our disagreement.


Again, another piece of intellectual dishonesty. His A+ and AA rates are substantially better than his 2008 A ball rates. And his 2010 AAA rates are arguably as good or better than his 2008 A ball rates. And in 2010 he was playing in a league that averaged almost 7 years older, in 2009 his leagues averaged 4.5 years older, and in 2008 his league that averaged 3.5 years older.
   20. catomi01 Posted: July 24, 2011 at 09:29 AM (#3884190)
If you're OK with players that peak in A-Ball, then apparently that's the heart of our disagreement.


He's 21 years old - identifying his peak right now might be a little premature, you think?
   21. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 24, 2011 at 12:51 PM (#3884207)
As a Red Sox fan, let me say: we would love to have Montero. He's friggin' 21 years old, and in AAA. He's going to be fine.
   22. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 24, 2011 at 01:45 PM (#3884213)
Bryce Harper's rates are trending downwards too
   23. Something Other Posted: July 25, 2011 at 02:39 AM (#3884525)
There are 9 AL players this season with higher K rates than that, and 4 are in the top third of the league in offensive value (Reynolds, Granderson, Cruz and Avilia), enough to probably offset any defensive limitations (and BJ Upton is a little above average).

Not sure what the translation from his league to the AL is, but it you can easily still be a plus bat in the Majors with a 24-28% K rate.
According to what you wrote, it's obvious that if only five players with "higher K rates than that" are above average, then you can't "easily still be a plus bat". It seems perfectly clear that if only four players in the entire American League and in that class are plus bats, you can be a plus bat only with great difficulty.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 25, 2011 at 03:16 AM (#3884535)
According to what you wrote, it's obvious that if only five players with "higher K rates than that" are above average, then you can't "easily still be a plus bat". It seems perfectly clear that if only four players in the entire American League and in that class are plus bats, you can be a plus bat only with great difficulty.

4 of only 9. That's pretty good odds.
   25. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 25, 2011 at 03:17 AM (#3884536)
The funny thing is if they're underhyped they become stars. Cano, Ian Kennedy, even Wang was very good for a little bit.


The Yankees signed and tried to play Tony Womack over Cano. And IIRC Kennedy was deemed "unable to handle the pressure in New York" because he struggled mightily in 40 innings as a 23 year old -- after pitching pretty well in a cup of coffee (20 innings) at age 22.
   26. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 25, 2011 at 03:43 AM (#3884542)
Ian Kennedy brought back Curtis Granderson. I think Mr. Cashman would do that trade again tomorrow.

Now Brett Gardner, there's a fine Yankee product.
   27. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 25, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#3884558)
According to what you wrote, it's obvious that if only five players with "higher K rates than that" are above average, then you can't "easily still be a plus bat". It seems perfectly clear that if only four players in the entire American League and in that class are plus bats, you can be a plus bat only with great difficulty.


By RC+, 6/11 AL batters with 300 PAs and K rates above 22.4% are above average (and a 7th is average), so it depends on what you define as "plus bats". But saying that 4/9 is "great difficulty" is LOL.

And of course the real point is that extrapolating from a high K rate a 21 year old has only evidenced for a half a season when the rest of his career is substantially lower is ridiculous.

Evidently AAA pitchers watched a lot of film of Jesus Montero during the off-season and found his "holes", because he was crushing them all last year.
   28. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 25, 2011 at 04:27 AM (#3884561)
By RC+, 6/11 AL batters with 300 PAs and K rates above 22.4% are above average (and a 7th is average), so it depends on what you define as "plus bats". But saying that 4/9 is "great difficulty" is LOL.


It depends how you look at it. It's 4/9, but it's also probably 4/several hundred.

In other words, it may not be difficult to be a plus bat in the majors if you're a major league hitter with a K rate above 22.4 percent, but it's extremely difficult to be a bat in the majors in the first place if you fan that often. I'm sure Walt can provide more detail.
   29. Something Other Posted: July 25, 2011 at 07:47 AM (#3884590)
According to what you wrote, it's obvious that if only five players with "higher K rates than that" are above average, then you can't "easily still be a plus bat". It seems perfectly clear that if only four players in the entire American League and in that class are plus bats, you can be a plus bat only with great difficulty.

4 of only 9. That's pretty good odds.
You seem as confused as VA. Only 9 guys who strike out that much were able to overcome that handicap and make it into the American League. It's not 4 or 9, it's 4 of (roughly) 196--in this case. That changes somewhat--of course--once you start pro rating and depending on how you want to slice strikeout rate data, but that's another matter. Guys who strike out a ton have a harder time making it to the majors. To say, 'See! Those guys don't get to the majors much, but when they do, 44% of them do well!' would lead you to think that scouts should advise drafting guys who K a hell of a lot because 'almost half of them turn out to be plus bats!' Silly, right?

edit: and next time, I'll read SOSH's post first. Drink up, sir.
   30. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:21 PM (#3884950)
If the high K guys were catchers, almost all would have plus bats.

And Montero isnt a random prospect, he has already shown a legit MLB bat throughout his minor league career, better than most MLB players have. If any prospect could succeed with a high K rate, he could, he had great rate stats in AAA last year despite a K rate over 18%, and he's a catcher, so the bar for being a plus bat is much lower.

The real point is, of course that one bad half year isn't evidence of much.

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