Friday, April 03, 2009

Matt Wieters

The super prospect Oriole catcher has not yet played a major league game. He is projected to hit 274/352/439, which combined with strong defense behind the plate makes him already one of the 30 best players in the game.

And that's just going on my projection, which is the most pessimistic among those that I've looked at. Most systems have him around a .380 OBP and .480 slugging, which probably puts him in the top 10. Those projections aren't enough to get him a big league job as the Orioles will send him to AAA for service time reasons.

Having such a low projection on him makes me wonder if I'm missing something, so I looked at the best hitters I could find in the Eastern league who had at least 200 AB there and were age 23 or younger (Wieters was 22). By OPS, they are:

Ron Kittle, 1981 1.119
David Wright, 2004 1.086
Wieters, 2008 1.085
Nick Johnson, 1999
Pat Burrell, 1999
Vladimir Guerrero, 1996
Sean Casey, 1997
Scott Rolen, 1996

All of these players had an OPS of at least 1.030. Kittle went to AAA the next year and hit 50 homers, then won the 1983 rookie of the year award for the White Sox, hitting 35 homers, but lack of ability to make contact prevented him from doing much else for his career. Nick Johnson got hurt (duh) and missed the whole 2000 season, was less impressive in AAA, mediocre as a rookie 3 years later, but eventually proved to be a great hitter in between DL appearances.

The other 5 played in the majors the following year, and on average posted an .839 OPS. They all were able to improve on the rookie numbers and range from outstanding hitter for brief periods of time (Casey) to HOF level hitters (Vlad, probably Wright). That bodes well for Wieters, but it's probably not a good idea to expect the 900 OPS right off the bat.

The 791 OPS that my system projects, however, might be a bit low. Wieters hit better in AA than he had at a lower level. Nick Markakis did the same a few years ago. David Wright's AA performance was way better than his 2003 season in the Florida State league. Perhaps players who show abnormal improvement when jumping to AA should be looked at a little differently.

10 Comments:

At 10:25 AM, Blogger MGL said...

Sean you lost me. You wrote an OPS for 3 of those players. Is that their OPS in the Eastern league in the years in question? Or are those MLE's? What about the other 5 players? Why are their OPS's not listed?

You say the other 5 players (I presume Wright, Burrell, Vlad, Casey and Rolen) posted an .839 OPS the next year in the majors. What about Kittle in 83? Come one, you can't just use the .839 one year later and not Kittle 2 years later! You can age adjust Kittle's major league OPS by "rolling it back" 1 year, but you can't ignore it! Same for Johnson. OK, he was hurt the next year, but what about the year after that? Same thing, use that and age adjust back one year.

Use all 7 players, give us their major league OPS (either in the next season, or in the case of Kittle and Johnson, the next season after that, adjusted for an extra year of age), and then we can talk.

And also give us the minor league OPS' for all the players, not just Wright and Kittle! You say the "best" Eastern Leaguers, but for all we know, those last 5 in your list may have had a minor league OPS substantially less than Wieters!

MGL

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Mike Fast said...

MGL, those are their OPS numbers in the Eastern League, according to the Baseball Cube. Here are their OPS numbers for the year in question and the three subsequent years (MLB unless otherwise noted).

Kittle
1981: 1.119 in the EL
1982: 1.194 in AAA
1983: .818
1984: .748

Wright
2004: 1.086 in the EL (223 AB), .967 at AAA (114 AB), and .857 in the majors (263 AB)
2005: .911
2006: .912
2007: .962

Johnson
1999: 1.073 in the EL
2000: hurt
2001: .869 in AAA
2002: .749

Burrell
1999: 1.069 in the EL
2000: .822
2001: .815
2002: .920

Guerrero
1996: 1.050 in the EL
1997: .833
1998: .960
1999: .978

Casey
1997: 1.046 in the EL (241 AB)
1998: .782
1999: .938
2000: .902

Rolen
1996: 1.036 in the EL (230 AB) and .787 at AAA
1997: .846
1998: .923
1999: .893

 
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