11.03.2005

The Giants Future Stars' War: The Hitters at San Jose

Welcome to my 200th post. Took me by surprise when I noticed it, didn't think I posted that many yet; I guess the old cliche holds, time flies...

This is the second in a series on the prospects in San Jose. The first one gave my introduction and went over my methodology and data sources plus discussed one thing I found from the analysis about age and how that pertains to Frandsen. Obviously, I appear to be wrong about Frandsen already; as I noted in another post, he's playing 3B in the AFL currently. But 2008-9 is still far off from now, you never know what may happen. For example, many don't remember that Mark McGwire was actually playing 3B for the A's but got moved to 1B when that prospect had some sort of problem (not hitting I think).

The Hitters

The following are hitters on the San Jose team who had more than 250 AB (that's approximately half a season plus it allowed me to include Frandsen):

Player BA OBP SLG OPS BB% Contact% BB/K AB/HR (sorry, blogger took out all my spacing for formating)
EME .313 .427 .524 .951 15% 83% 1.1 28
Ishikawa .282 .387 .532 .919 14% 70% 0.5 20
Frandsen .351 .429 .467 .896 8% 92% 1.2 146
Schierholtz .319 .363 .514 .877 6% 74% 0.2 33
Wald .293 .357 .493 .850 9% 71% 0.3 20
Bowker .267 .319 .414 .733 7% 77% 0.3 36
Timpner .291 .334 .397 .731 6% 83% 0.4 137
Jennings .288 .321 .395 .716 4% 859% 0.3 50
League .287 .352 .455 .807 9% 79% 0.5 34

{If you want to view this better, you probably can cut and paste this table into Excel and then convert the text to columns under the Data menu; I will gladly take any advice on how to better present tables in Blogger}

How the Hitters Measured Up

Here are the players who did well in each ratio (elite bolded) and those who did poorly in italics following the semicolon:

  • BA: Frandsen, Schierholtz, Eddy Martinez-Esteve (EME)
  • OBP: Frandsen, EME, Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Wald
  • SLG: Ishikawa, EME, Schierholtz, Wald, Frandsen
  • OPS: EME, Ishikawa, Frandsen, Schierholtz, Wald
  • BB%: EME, Ishikawa; Jennings
  • Contact%: Frandsen, Jennings; Schierholtz, Wald, Ishikawa
  • BB/K: Frandsen, EME; Timpner, Bowker, Wald, Jennings, Schierholtz
  • AB/HR: Ishikawa, Wald, EME

There are probably elite levels for BB% (perhaps 15%, in which case EME would qualify), Contact% (probably 90%, in which case Frandsen would qualify), and BB/K (I would actually think 1.0 is elite but Shandler did his studies on this and I got nothing better) but these are all guesses on my part, because I'm relatively new to these stats and don't have a feel for them yet, whereas I've been dealing with BA and AB/HR most of my life and OBP/SLG/OPS over the past few years. Perhaps next year.

How the Hitters Ranked

A number of players were in the 80 percentile or higher (16th or better out of 82 players with 250 AB or more):

  • EME was in the 80 percentile or above in all the categories above except for contact% and AB/HR; he was in the top 5 in OBP, BB%, BB/K, and 7th in OPS. And he was close in Contact%, ranking 27th, and AB/HR, ranking 31st.
  • Frandsen was in the top 5 in BA, OBP, contact%, and BB/K; he was also in the 80 percentile for OPS.
  • Ishikawa was in the 80 percentile or above in OBP, SLG, OPS, BB%, and AB/HR. However, he was near the bottom of the league in Contact%, a crucial metric to do well in. His BB/K is actually slightly above the middle of the league (ranked 30th), higher than one would think given all his strikeouts.
  • Schierholtz surprisingly was only in the 80 percentile or above in BA. He was close in two others, ranked 19th in SLG and 24th in OPS. However, he was near the bottom of the league in three key metrics - BB%, Contact%, and BB/K.
  • Only two other players were in the 80 percentile or higher: Jake Wald in AB/HR and Todd Jennings in Contact%. Timpner was close in Contact% with 83%, ranked 25th. And Wald was close in SLG with a ranking of 26th.

Findings

The three top hitters on the San Jose team were EME, Frandsen, and Ishikawa. Frandsen was in the top 5 in four metrics and EME was in the top 5 in three metrics. EME was also at or near the top in all eight metrics. Ishikawa was at the top in five metrics and close in another. In addition, Ishikawa was in the elite category in four metrics, while EME was in three and Frandsen was in two.

Surprisingly, Schierholtz was ranked high in only one metric (though close to two others) and, in fact, is near the bottom in three key metrics (BB%, Contact%, BB/K) and lower than one would expect in AB/HR after his homer spree at Hagerstown in early 2004. His disappointing show relative to the league echos the complaints about him posted on Baseball America and other minor league focused sites and general disappointment with his progress and abilities to grow beyond his flaws in his swing. He was in elite company in SLG, though,

None of the other hitters really performed above the league. Wald showed some HR power, which boosted his SLG, but, at 24, is old for the league, so his stats need to be viewed and downgraded in that context. Jennings showed off his bat with his high Contact%, showing why the Giants converted him to 3B from C, to keep his bat around, but he needs to have a better feel for the strike zone because he strikes out too much and walks too little, plus needs to start swinging with some lift, like Ted Williams taught in his book, as his SLG and HR power was very low last season.

Sabean is hoping that this group will be the core components of the next generation Giants and hence are trying to keep them together so that they would have better chemistry together once they made the majors. With Frandsen moved to 3B, the Giants could keep him with the group in AA next season, but that would slow his progress towards the majors, as he probably would be better off in AAA next season. But they might hold him back so that he could adjust to his new position in lower leagues.

But that's not too bad, eight hitters playing significant time and hitting well overall, though most of them had one or more problem area that made them poor hitting prospects. Hopefully they can win the league championship for Norwich next. Sabean also wants them to have a winning attitude, to know how to win, and what it takes to be a winner. Sounds good to me!

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