Results tagged ‘ Desmond Jennings ’

One more on Player of the Year

Last one, I promise. But I couldn’t resist based on the comments left here from yesterday’s post. In case you didn’t see it, someone (Christian G., I’m guessing by the username) wrote this:

My reading comprehension skills may have failed me. I was unaware
that your “POY” excluded a players actual prospect status (re:
Clemens). I was also unaware that your “POY” award excluded defensive
contributions (re: Carter vs Jennings, one guy is is destined for 1b/DH
while the other is a plus CF’er.) So if you’re looking for offensive
stats, and prospect status is eliminated, these guys belong in the

Mitch Jones
Randy Ruiz
Kyle Russell
Drew Locke

I love it when someone goes to an extreme to make a point. But I’m calling this out for a few reasons, partially because of the absurdity and partially because there’s a valid point in there. Let’s start with the absurd.

Now, I’ll admit I purposefully put Koby Clemens on the “candidate” list in the hopes of getting a response. As I’ve said, I can be fairly confident in telling you he won’t be the Player of the Year. Yes, he played in Lancaster. Yes, he played in the California League. Yes his K/BB rate is a little concerning. But to compare a 22-year-old to Mitch Jones (31 in AAA, hit .297/.400/.651) or Randy Ruiz (hit .320/.351/.531 at age 31 in AAA) in terms of non-prospectness is just silly. I’m not saying Clemens is a big prospect now; all I’m claiming is that it’s now worth watching to see what he does next year. It’s also worth mentioning that it was Clemens’ first try at that level, as opposed to the 30-somethings above who have spent multiple years in Triple-A.

Kyle Russell’s numbers don’t even come close to Clemens’s, I don’t think. And since he’s actually older than Clemens and played a level lower, he shouldn’t even been mentioned. Hurts your argument. Locke’s numbers are indeed pretty good (.323/.389/.531). At 25 in Double-A, he’s not a prospect, but he’s a better example for you to use in your debating the issue. Still, he’s 3 years older than Clemens.

OK, enough on Clemens. He’s just an interesting side discussion when you really think about it. I think the better point made by the commenter is about how defense should figure into any discussion about Player of the Year talk, whether you’re thinking prospect or not.

I’ll be the first to admit that discussions we have about this do lean heavily toward offensive performance. Much of that is out of necessity. It’s a lot easier to look at a player’s numbers at the plate on paper than evaluate defense. We don’t get to see most of these guys with any consistency, so any look at defense would have to rely on what others see. Thanks to another commenter to including a link to ProjectProspect’s scouting report on Chris Carter. They do good work over there.

Keep in mind, though, that that report is just one scout’s perspective. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that two scouts can see the same player and see different things. Yes, he still strikes out a bit. But his K rate went down and his BB rate went up this year, all while he moved up a level and faced presumably better pitching overall. I’ve had people tell me that he’s made many more adjustments than people thought he could and he has the chance to be more than just a three true outcome kind of guy.

The report also only touches briefly on his defense, saying he’ll be limited to 1B/DH, as the first commenter believed as well. That very well may be true. But I have to throw out there that there are those who felt he looked fairly comfortable in a corner outfield spot. He’s never going to be a gold glover, but I wouldn’t peg him as a liability just yet.

Defensive stats in the Minors aren’t all that available, so I can only throw out what I can find. Range Factor for a first baseman isn’t all that telling, but I’ll use it as one example. There were 24 first basemen (thanks to our stats guru Cory Schwartz for the info) who played 100 games or more at the position at one level. Carter’s 9.65 RF in Double-A put him 13th. Not great, but not terrible. Firmly middle of the road (In 7 Triple-A games at first, he had a 10.16 RF — meaningless stat for you). His RF for the season was 9.68, keeping him in that same overall place.

Some claim that assists are a better indicator for a first baseman’s range. Carter doesn’t fare as well there. His assists per game ratio in Double-A was 21st among those 24 first basemen. Obviously, this isn’t weighting anything toward league or level or if a player’s pitching staff was more groundball or flyball oriented, so take it for what it’s worth.

Then there’s Jennings, a “plus CFer,” according to our commenter. Jennings played 113 total games across two levels in center field. There were a total of 31 players who played 100 games or more at that position in 2009. Again using the less than perfect range factor, Jennings’s 2.83 combined puts him 7th. Now, obviously, a center fielder ranking that highly gives more value to a team than a 1B, especially one who’s middle of the road. So score one for Mr. commenter. (By the way, it might make a good case for Jason Heyward, who — without doing the math — seemed to do well at all three outfield positions in 2009).

But here’s the thing, and the question I throw to you. What does all of this mean? Is Range Factor a worthwhile enough index to measure a Minor Leaguer? I like the idea of including defense in this discussion, I’m just not sure how to do it since we don’t have the same kind of data we’ve grown to trust more on the hitting side.

Of course, as I’m looking at our Awards page from last year, I’m remembering (or being reminded) that we call the award Best Overall Hitter. So for the purposes of deciding that, this long, drawn out blog post is moot. But for us and this debate, we can consider it.

So comment away if you’d like. Tomorrow I’ll get to pitchers, I promise and we can come back to this conversation if necessary.

Player of the Year Reaction

Before I get to the best choices for Minor League Pitcher of the Year tomorrow, I want to take a second to respond to the comments for my Player of the Year post. First, what’s with both commenters starting with “Uhh?” Is it so hard to gather your thoughts that you have to use a filler while writing. Come on people!

Now, on to the content. First of all, I want to remind everyone that when we hand out our awards, it’s for “Player of the Year” and not necessarily “Prospect of the Year.” Yes, age at a level and upside sometimes does figure into the discussion, but unlike other places (and this is not meant as a condemnation of them at all, just point out that we do things a bit differently here), prospect status isn’t the be-all end all.

So, you won’t get an argument from me that Jason Heyward is the best prospect in the game right now. In fact, he was atop the list we posted in July. And don’t get me wrong, he had an outstanding season, even getting up to Triple-A and playing most of the year at age 19. But, if looking at best player, does his .323, 17 HR, 63 RBIs to go along with a .408 OBP and .555 SLG. Yes, he missed some time, but I have to say just from a numbers perspective (and remember, this is my opinion and not the site’s — that discussion has yet to take place), he’s not the PLAYER of the year.

You can ridicule Clemens being on the list of candidates all you want. Yes, he was in Lancaster and the California League. I’m pretty sure that will mean he won’t get the award. That being said, I don’t care what level you’re in, when you finish fourth in average, 1st in RBIs and in the top three of a few other offensive categories, you need at least to be mentioned. And he’s still only 22, so it’s not like he’s old for the level. Sure, he needs to prove he can do it at higher levels, but for this topic, he belongs in the conversation.

Let’s compare 2 players, looking at stats and levels and not where they are on that overall leaderboard or among their respective league leaders

Player A:  22 years old, played in Double-A Texas League and Triple-A PCL
Double-A: .337, 24 HR, 101 RBI, 13 SB, .435 OBP, .576 SLG, 1.011 OPS in 490 AB
Triple-A: .259, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .293 OBP, .519 SLG, .812 OPS in 54 AB
Totals: .329, 28 HR, 115 RBI, 13 SB, .422 OBP, .570 SLG, .992 OPS

Player B: 22 years old, layed in Double-A Southern League and Triple-A IL
Double-A: .316, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 37 SB, .395 OBP, .486 SLG, .881 OPS in 383 AB
Triple-A: .325, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 15 SB, .419 OBP, .491 SLG, .910 OPS in 114 AB
Totals: .318, 11 HR, 62 RBI, 52 SB, .401 OBP, .487 SLG, .888 OPS in 497 AB

OK, what’s your take here? Here’s what I see. While it’s obvious we’re looking at two different kinds of players here, Player A beats Player B in every category other than stolen bases. Player B did have more success upon his promotion to Triple-A, though I’d maintain Player A’s sample size at that level is too small and it could be noted that Player A homered four times in seven playoff games in the PCL.

Player A is Chris Carter. Player B is Desmond Jennings, the pick by one of the commenters. Again, I love Jennings and think he’s a tremendous prospect. But to me, Carter wins that argument hands down.

Keep the comments coming. It makes for a fun debate.

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