You might have read this already, you might not have (and you might not have the subscription that is required to do so), but Baseball Prospectus ran an article back in December on the career of Josh Phelps. Instead of just glossing over the numbers, Marc Normandin tries to put them into context and tries to explain why Phelps was disappointing at times on the major league level.
For instance, he was a terrible disappointment for Toronto in 2004, but he sported an ungodly low he .276 average on balls in play, which is in stark contrast to his expected level of .317 (based on the percentage of line drives he hit). Then you have 2005 with Tampa, when Sweet Lou handed him a mere 177 plate appearances. His 2006 season in AAA for the Tigers looked stellar, as he posted .308/.370/.532 averages. In addition, he walked in 7.2 percent of his plate appearances, hit a line drive in a little over 20 percent, and got his groundball percentage down to around 40.
He obviously has the skills to succeed, but has faced a few unlucky breaks — injuries included. I don’t think that Phelps is beyond repair by any sense. In fact, if he can translate some of the skills he displayed in AAA to the major league level and stay healthy, he’ll contribute far more to the 2007 Yankees than Andy Phillips and Doug Mientkiewicz.
Then again, I may be over-arguing here. Does anyone really think that Phillips or Mientkiewicz can make a meaningful contribution? And please, spare me the Pete Abraham “Minky will save an error a week.” That’s a load of anecdotal horse shit.