A look back at last year’s rookies so far…

, Monday, June 22, 2009 at 1:04 AM Comments (0)

My name is Denard Span. I deserve to play more than the guy I am cutting in front of. FREE DENARD SPAN!

My name is Denard Span. I deserve to play more than the guy I am cutting in front of. FREE DENARD SPAN!

Before the season, sovaldi I did a piece on some hitters that made their debuts last year that might make a mark with their teams this year. You can find the link here. Although it isn’t the All-Star break yet, no rx I figured it might be time to check in with the 9 guys we looked at then:

Chris Dickerson, Reds: He had an OPS of 1.021 in 102 AB’s for the Reds last year. As a result of that, the Reds penciled him in as their starting LF. Most projection systems were pessimistic on him, and while he has not held up to his stats from last year, he has not completely embarrassed himself. His batting average is .265, which can be mostly explained by the fact that his batting average on balls in play is (BABIP) is .340. That is .70 points less than it was last year. Historically, most hitters will be between .290-.300 on BABIP, so the fact that these numbers are so high is quite disturbing. His SLG% is also .222 points lower than last year. Summary: Chris needs to pick it up, especially since he is now 27.

Chris Davis, Rangers: First, here is a small recount of what I wrote about Davis before the season:

“He did strikeout a lot, 88 times in 317 PA’s…as long as he doesn’t suffer a sophomore slump, he will be a big part of any Ranger success.”

Well, the strikeouts are still a problem, but I am not sure we can call it a sophomore slump. Davis has struck out 100 times this season (leading the league), which surpasses last year’s total in 82 less plate appearances. I think it is that he has become obsessed with the long ball. He is currently batting .196 (which is not really affected by bad luck as his BABIP is .293). His OPS is .213 points lower than last year, his doubles are down dramatically, and his OPS+ is 72, which means that all things being equal, he has been 28% worse than the average major leaguer at his position. This kid is still young, and he still has a chance to be a dangerous and powerful major league hitter. However, he MUST get on base more. He MUST learn to take walks. You cannot strive to be Adam Dunn if you don’t walk like Dunn.

Evan Longoria, Rays: Let’s keep this short. Evan was great last year. In fact, he was outstanding. This year? He has been better by almost every statistical measurement. His OPS is .133 points higher, his BA is .299 (which may come down a bit as he has a .343 BABIP), he is striking out at this same rate, walking roughly 40% more, and just destroying everything. And finally, he is still just 23 years old.

Daniel Murphy, Mets: I predicted that Murphy would continue to play well and be one of the reasons that the Mets still had hope come September. I have not really been to correct on that one. His OPS is nearly .200 points lower, and his batting average is .62 points lower than last year. That current BA of .251 can be expected to improve slightly because of his BABIP of .263, but it will probably not approach the .313 he hit last year. He is not finished, as the Mets will certainly continue to give him playing time, but he needs to pick it up.

Denard Span, Twins: He is still not assured a full time spot in the outfield, but in the time that he has gotten, he has played well. His average projection before the season was an OBP/SLG of .343/.377, and so far this year he has posted a .380/.386. His BABIP of .332 is a bit high, but understandable considering his speed, and right in line with what it was last year. He continues to steal bases at a reasonable rate and play excellent defense. Before the season I admitted to loving this kid and I will now use this space to say that the Twins need to find more playing time for this guy. He is a dynamic force that takes walks, gets on base, and plays excellent defense. FREE DENARD SPAN!

Pablo Sandoval, Giants: My pre-season write up said that he needed to walk more and continue his impressively low strikeout rate. Well he has walked just a tick more and struck out just a tick more. However, he has continued to impress at the age of 22. His BA is .333 (supported by a .363 BABIP, just .07 points higher than what he posted last year), his OPS is .912, and his OPS+ is 137 (again, all things being equal he is 37% better than the average major leaguer) What drives those numbers? Well, he is hitting a lot more doubles so far which has supported a beautiful .532 SLG. This kid has impressed so far and looks to be someone that could be a decent bat for the Giants…and god knows they could use it. His future is probably at third with Buster Posey waiting in the minors.

John Baker, Marlins: Eh. That is probably the best word to describe Baker…eh. My pre-season write-up said that he was 27 and was not expected to be amazing, but could be a contributor at the bottom of the Marlins lineup. He hasn’t exactly met those expectations, but he hasn’t been totally embarrassing either. He is a roughly average major leaguer (OPS+ 98) and he is walking just a little bit less than last year. His current BA of .245 is right in line with an average BABIP of .301. I said he struck out a little bit on the high side, and he continues to do so at a rate slightly higher than even last year. That being said, he is still getting on base at a .335 clip, so he has not been a complete failure. If I had bet on my preseason prediction, I think I would have to call this a push.

Matthew Joyce, Rays: He has only played 11 games and gotten 37 PA’s so far. No need to judge him on those numbers so far.

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox: I kind of took White Sox fans to task for a disproportionate love for Alexei. Let’s see where we are so far this year. His average projection was an OBP/SLG of .324/.473, and so far this year he has posted a .311/.389. His BA last year was .290 (based on a BABIP of .294). This year his BA is .262 based on a BABIP of .272. My write-up also said that he needed to get caught stealing less, commit less errors, and get on base more. Well, he was caught 40% of the time last year, and he has that down to 21% this year. In 121 games last year at SS and 2B he made 12 errors. In 65 games so far this year at 2B, he has made 5 errors so far. Lastly, he has not gotten on base more. So, where does that leave us? Well, I am gonna go out on a limb here and say I was right.

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