Interesting Notes From Latest Keith Law Chat

June 13, 2010: Matt Wieters  for the Baltimore Orioles at bat during an interleague game against the visiting New York Mets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Mets completed the 3-game sweep by beating the Orioles 11 - 4.

One of my favorite mainstream personalities is ESPN’s Keith Law. He brings a great understanding of both scouting and sabermetrics to his analysis while keeping a semi sarcastic tone, which I dig.
 
There were a few interesting statements from his latest live chat than caught my attention and deserve to be spotlighted for future fantasy purposes.

 

Dan (Des Moines)

Klaw who would you rather have for their career Posey or Wieters?

Klaw

  (1:02 PM)

 

As much as I love Posey, I’m sticking with Wieters.

This is quite the statement given what Posey has done in his first shot at regular big league playing time against what Wieters has done over the past couple of seasons. Wieters is 24-years-old while Poesy is a year younger. If we use a side comparison of their major league stats, it’s easy to make a case for Posey over Wieters.

 

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

K%

BB%

LD%

GB%

FB%

BABIP

Matt Wieters

818

0.271

0.334

0.403

8.7%

22.0%

17.6%

44.3%

36.8%

0.321

Buster Posey

349

0.315

0.358

0.487

5.6%

13.5%

20.0%

48.2%

31.8%

0.334

 

However, young players can be tricky. Some burst onto the scene like Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria, others take a year or two before they have their breakout season. This can be especially true with catchers as they have a bigger focus on the defensive aspect of their game. Consider this: Victor Martinez was spending the majority of his age 23-24 seasons in the minor leagues. Even Joe Mauer didn’t have his true “breakout” season until last year at age 26. Brian McCann was actually doing more damage at the big league level at age 22-24 that Victor Martinez was during those years of his career.

Minor league stats can tell us some things, but there are so many different factors that are relatively unknown and vary from year-to-year. We can find league/ballpark factors, but how about the talent level of the pitching from year-to-year and league-to-league? We know for a fact that High Dessert is an absolute launching pad and can explain some breakout seasons there. Example, Johermyn Chavez led the High Dessert Mavericks in home runs this season, but his home road splits are astounding…

 

Johermyn Chavez

AB

HR

OBP

SLG

Home

267

23

0.419

0.693

Road

267

9

0.354

0.461

 

Weather plays a factor as well. Posey played his minor league games in the California League and Pacific Coast League. Both are known as a great hitters league and boasts mostly warm weather. On the contrary, Matt Wieters played all of his minor league ball on he east coast in leagues lesser known for boosting hitting stats.

Still, the best way to gauge prospects is to read scouting reports and see as much in person as possible. I can attest based on my own experience that Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller has some tremendous tailing action on his fastball, whereas I have only read about the sinking action of Zach Britton’s fastball. Keith Law has seen many more prospects that the majority of us who don’t get paid to scout, so his first-hand knowledge is inherently much greater. Some people will simply look at the numbers and come to the conclusion that Posey is far andaway the better keeper value, but it goes beyond the numbers with younger players. David Price is in the midst of his breakout season. Just based on his numbers from previous major league seasons, it would have seemed impossible for this to happen.

I ranked Wieters over Posey in my top 15 keeper ranks.

I mentioned above about home and road stats. Carlos Gonzalez is having a monster year, but some are pointing to his home/road splits as a big red flag…

Keith Law makes a great point as to why these splits are so drastic.

Adam (San Francisco)

What do you make of Carlos Gonzalez and his home/road splits?

Klaw

  (1:19 PM)

I’m of two minds. On the one hand, most Rockies hitters have some kind of significant split, and I have never believed in the idea that you can just double a player’s road stats to get his “true” talent level. And Gonzalez is legitimately talented. On the other hand, the guy always had trouble with breaking stuff, and stuff don’t break at Coors the way it does (do?) at sea level. He’s in a home park that neutralizes the very pitches that give him the most trouble, and if he was in San Diego this year, he wouldn’t be close to this level of performance.

Carlos Gonzalez’s home/road splits so far in 2010…

 

Carlos Gonzalez

AB

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

Home

253

25

0.387

0.435

0.783

Road

260

7

0.288

0.310

0.760

 

 

Carlos Gonzalez

BB%

K%

LD%

HR/FB

Home

8.1%

17.0%

24.2%

29.8%

Road

3.3%

28.8%

17.4%

10.6%

 

August 14, 2010 Denver, CO..Carlos Gonzalez  of the Colorado Rockies in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field on August 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado..The Brewers beat the Rockies 5-4..Aaron Salley/CSM.

It is beyond clear that Car-Go has benefited from being traded to the Rockies two seasons ago. He still has huge risks in his plate approach. Caro-Go is an extreme free swinger (38% O-Swing), and his is super aggressive on pitches inside the strike-zone as well(71% Z-Swing). He doesn’t draw very many walks or see many pitches per plate appearance (3.53 Pit/PA). However, as Law states, Car-Go has always had huge pure talent and his approach actually works for him in Coors Field, where breaking balls don’t break as much and fly balls fly farther.

Personally, I would be very hesitant to spend a first round pick in Car-Go in 2011. Partly because of the overly aggressive plate approach and partly because of a .381 BABIP that his highly unrepeatable. I still believe in his pure talent, as I did all preseason, but his triple crown worthy numbers may vault him into the first round or cause his auction price to crack the mid $30’s (even $40’s in some cases). Based on the risk involved, I’d stay clear in either circumstance.

Lastly, there was a question about Daniel Hudson, who has been lights out since being traded to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson.

Jason (PHX)

 

Do you think Daniel Hudson’s 2nd half shows he can be a #1 or #2, or is it mostly luck? His BABIP has been low, but it varied in the minors. Thanks, Keith.

Klaw

  (1:36 PM)

 

Mostly luck, with a dash of weak competition and facing some hitters who haven’t seen his arm slot before.

Hudson’s opponents have been (in order of date faced since joining the D-Backs): @NYM, SD, @MIL, CIN, COL, @SF, HOU, SF. Hudson has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of those games and the three earned he only allowed once over seven innings. Yes, as a whole his competition has been below average aside from CIN and COL, so Law is on point with this statement. Also, his BABIP against for the month of August was .236, so there is the luck factor. However, one can’t deny what Hudson has done with regard to his walk rate. Regardless of opponent he’s doing a great job of limiting free passes, which is something that was a strong point to his minor league track record. Since being traded to the National League his strikeouts have also gone up.

The bottom line with Hudson is that he is a very talented pitcher and someone that could have some nice value as a late pick in 2011 drafts. However, he’s not this good. An adjustment in BABIP toward .300 should push his ERA back into the mid-to-upper threes.