Guest Post: Prospects due for improvement or regression

An SOS from the bullpen
RAB's 2009 Subway Series Preview

The following is a guest post by Kyle Dugan, but you probably know him better as commenter K.B.D. Any readers interested in submitting guest posts can contact me via e-mail at mike at riveraveblues dot com.

We’re roughly a third of the way through the MLB season, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but DotF is probably my favorite part of RAB. Some of you, like me, get real worked up about the prospects whenever they seem like they’re putting it together. Similarly, sometimes we probably overreact when guys in the minor don’t seem to live up to the hype. It’s my hope that this little snippet of the minors might quell some of your fears about players, as well as temper your enthusiasm for others.

Due for improvement:

Mike Dunn (LHP, AA) – 36.0 IP, 4.00 ERA, 2.42 FIP
His ERA-FIP discrepancy is likely due to high BABIP (.360). Dunn is sporting a very impressive 12.25 K/9 on the season, though is struggling a bit with his control (4.75 BB/9). When you’re striking that many people out though, you can get away with being a bit wild. Ten bucks says he’d be more useful out of the pen right now than Tomko or Veras.

Ryan Pope (RHP, AA) – 50.1 IP, 4.83 ERA, 3.24 FIP
Pope has pitched decently this season so far, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from his ERA. Pope has managed to keep his peripherals eerily similar in the last year: 1.90 BB/9 in A+ to a 1.79 BB/9 in AA. He has slightly improved his strikeout rate giving him a 3.80 K/BB. I know we’ve all been critical of Pope as he’s moved through the system. H was drafted in the 3rd round with high expectations and while he hasn’t lived up to them entirely, he’s done an admirable job. Maybe it’s not the results we should be looking at, but his performance: Ryan Pope’s FIP has outperformed his ERA every year he’s been with the Yankees.

Year ERA FIP Discrepancy
2007 (A-) 2.49 2.44 .05
2008 (A+) 4.15 3.57 .58
2009 (AA) 4.83 3.24 1.59

Justin Snyder (LHB, 2B, AA) – .198/.307/.298 in 139 PAs
Snyder’s line is really nothing to look at, understandably, though his IsoD does jump out (.109), so he’s not just going up there and throwing his time at the plate away. He’s being selective at the plate, keeping his walks up and strikeouts down to the tune of a .86 BB/K. J-Snyde (because our system needs more letter-dash-last-name guys) is doing this after completely skipping A+. If Snyder could get a full season of ABs at second, we could be seeing a damn respectable line out of him.

I can’t say I blame the Tony Franklin for not playing Snyder, however, as the AGNH-ostic (All Glove, No Hit) Reegie Corona is dispelling that moniker by OPSing a solid .854. Maybe he’s coming around after all.

By the way, does anybody like my AGNH-ostic thing?

Due for regression:

Zach Kroenke (RHP, AAA) – 25.0 IP, 1.08 ERA, 4.16 FIP
Kroenke wasn’t going to maintain a 1.08 the entire year, anyways but it’s noteworthy that his ERA is outperforming his FIP by 3 full runs. That’s more than significant. What’s really worrying is his K rates have slipped while his walk rate is still very high, leading to a K/BB of 1.13. That’s not a pretty number no matter how you look at it. His average against is a paltry .175 largely due to his BABIP of .207. His LOB% is… wait for it… 94.4%. Zachary has been a lucky man in the early going, look for his performance to come back to Earth.

Austin Jackson (RHB, CF, AAA) – .335/.408/.443 in 235 PAs
I know we’d all like to think that this is what we’ll see from A-Jax at the major league level, but there are some numbers here that have to give us pause. First off, his BABIP is .476 while his career line sits at .365. H’s also posting his highest K rate since his rookie year in 2006, striking out 28.8% of the time. When he’s not busy striking out, he’s actually making pretty damn good contact: his line drive percent sits at 22.1%, 7.0% higher than his career line. Austin has been the beneficiary of some luck this year and it’s already starting to show: in the last two weeks he has been OPSing .110 point less than his year to date.

Reegie Corona (2B, AA) – .318/.438/.417 in 160 PAs
… Or maybe he’s just lucky. Corona is seemingly looking to prove he can be more than a defense first second baseman. After being taken by the Mariners in the Rule V Draft only to be returned, Corona has been great. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to last. His 21.2% walk rate is roughly double his career average. His BABIP rests at a friendly .371, .061 points higher than his total minors line. Overall, his OPS this year is .168 points higher than his career OPS and unfortunately for us, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, or maybe its a guy getting lucky and hot at the same time.

There it is for your consideration. If you want to let me know what a terrible job I’ve done, I post as K.B.D. around here and will be perusing the comments. Thanks for reading.

An SOS from the bullpen
RAB's 2009 Subway Series Preview
  • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    This is terrible!11!!!!!

    Nice piece, actually, and good catch re: Pope.

    • K.B.D.

      Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        That was an excellently researched and well written, thorough, and compelling post…

        …FOR ME TO POOP ON!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike Pop

    I’m an agnostic.

    • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      You’re a godless, America-hating beast, Pop.

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        And a regular poster on that socialist website called RAB.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Mike Pop = tarnished credibility

  • Derek

    “By the way, does anybody like my AGNH-ostic thing?”

    That pretty much ruins a “thing” when you’re searching for approval of it.

    • K.B.D.

      If you’re telling me asking you for your input on it immediately makes you dislike it (or “ruins” it), I guess I’ll have to live with that.

      • the artist formerly known as (sic)

        I dont know if that’s what he was saying, but it’s certainly what I am saying.

        • Brian

          I think it should be AGNoStick and eventually agnostick.

  • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

    K.B.D., you say Pope has a 3.01 and a 3.24 FIP. It can’t be both, right, or am I misunderstanding something?

    • K.B.D.

      Sorry, when I was redoing the stats last night I missed that. It should read 3.24 FIP on the season. The chart is correct.

  • Jake K.

    Hopefully Ajax can make up for his likely decrease in batting average by having a few more of his hits land over the fence.

    • K.B.D.

      I was thinking the same thing, but his current IsoP is at .108 is only slightly off his .121 career mark. His OBP normalizing will probably be more significant than his power numbers reaching their standard levels.

      • Jamal G.

        You have to remember that he played in a pitcher’s parks in Waterfront Park (Trenton). His IsoP and SLG% on the road in 2008 were .185 and .496, respectively. Also, he obviously displayed tremendous power in his 2007 season, so there’s no reason to look through that year.

        His power may be a bit inconsistent, but it definitely has been displayed for year-long sample sizes (two if you count his 2007 season and his 2008 campaign away from Waterfront).

  • Bo

    So the basics. if you’re doing good you are due to fall back and vice versa. Great stuff.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      That’s a rather absurd oversimplification. Statistical analysis fail.

    • pat

      thanks for the continued douchebaggery.

    • A.D.

      Not really if Pope was rocking a FIP up in the 4-5 then it would just be that he’s not that good right now and struggling at AA

    • Jake K.

      You really enjoy being a dick, don’t you?

    • jsbrendog

      you’ve surpassed jonathon edwards for biggest douche of the universe category.

    • K.B.D.

      I can’t really be offended when you didn’t even understand what it was about. You just insulted a column that doesn’t exist. Congrats.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I will explain. No, there is too much. I will sum up.

        SalBoGrantLanny’s never had a useful or insightful or even accidentally funny thing to say, ever. They won’t admit to it, but I’m assuming the reason the RAB Big Three keep him around is because he suffers from split personality disorder and posting at RAB is part of his holistic mental health and wellness plan.

        You’ve just got to learn to live with it. Had you made a guest post and SalBoGrantLanny didn’t comment on it, or actually liked it, now, THAT would be a sign that your post was an utter traveshamockery.

        Instead, you just got paid the highest compliment possible: SalBoGrantLanny thinks you’re dumb. That means you’re smart and witty. Congratulations, buddy, you made it!

  • A.D.

    I know we’d all like to think that this is what we’ll see from A-Jax at the major league level, but there are some numbers here that have to give us pause.

    …sticks fingers in ears…. la la la I can’t hear you.

    • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

      LOL

  • Doug

    Great analysis, especially on Kroenke. Didn’t realize those current metrics of his.

    On Jackson, I’m with you 100%. I’ve been closely monitoring him all year and he’s definitely due for regression. His strikeout rate is way too high and his BABIP of .467 (after last nite) is completely unsustainable. He has to start making more contact or his batting average is going to go into a free fall very shortly.

  • http://www.fackyouk.blogspot.com MattB

    Nice work.

    I wonder though if these expected regressions should apply to minor leaguers in the same way they would apply to major leaguers. We’re not talking about established players here; we’re talking about guys who are supposed to be on the upswing of their development.

    I don’t contest that Kroenke’s numbers indicate some off-the-charts luck. And I agree that Corona likely isn’t as good as he’s playing right now.

    But what about AJax? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but the guy is a top prospect. Is it that far out of the question that the increase in LD%, and consequently BABIP, are more indicative of a breakthrough season than they are good luck?

    Maybe the jump in K% belies that. But I figure at this stage of his career we would expect him to be showing some sort of improvement. Perhaps these numbers are more sustainable than they appear to be.

    • K.B.D.

      The increase in LD% would be a great, great development for Austin as a player as it correlates very highly with batting average. Thing is, that BABIP is utterly unsustainable. No matter what sort of improvement he has made, he’s not going to maintain this level of production.

      Whats worrisome to me about Austin is that he has great wheels, and striking out a ton hurts his ability to utilize his speed. He’s better off putting the ball in play, even on a ground ball, and seeing if he can beat it out. Over a season, it could make a difference.

      If we could have best of both worlds, the K rate would be an aberration while the line drive rate would be the “new” A-Jax.

      None of these statistics can tell us if he’s JUST lucky. But even if we assume the best case scenario with Austin’s numbers so far, we still have to assume these numbers are going to regress.

      • http://www.fackyouk.blogspot.com MattB

        I don’t disagree with any of that. I guess the question is that if/when AJax regresses, does that mean he simply regresses somewhat from his current lofty numbers or does he regress all the way to his past performance? I’d like to think that by season’s end he’ll have shown improvement over past years.

        BABIP for AJax is a funny proposition right now. Because of his high K totals and having hit just one HR he’s losing next to nothing off the numerator of his BABIP formula but losing a lot off the denominator. That may have a lot to do with why it’s so inflated right now. Sure it’s not sustainable, but I hope its current value has more to do with his K and HR numbers than it does with luck.

        Either way, the jump in LD% is encouraging, and that too may have a big effect on his high BABIP. The increase in LD% may be the best indicator of his making strides this year.

  • Charlie

    So my question is why not try to move some of these guys before the regression occurs? Is it simply that other G.M.’s know that they are not as good as their numbers, or do you believe that the Yankees fall in love with their prospects? Also, can you trade minor league guys for other minor league guys?

    Note- I am not saying that the Yankees do not make trades, nor am I saying that they never trade their kids, nor am I saying they should trade for everyone on the market. I am just curious as to why the players aren’t used like a stock market; sell high, buy low, know when to hold, etc…

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      It’s more along the lines of, what are you really going to get for these guys?

      I mean, you’re saying “If Zack Kroenke’s not really that good, let’s trade him now at the peak of his value”. The peak value of a AA relief pitcher who was never seen as a closer of the future is probably just another AA relief pitcher who was never seen as a closer of the future.

      All we could get for Kroenke is another Kroenke.

      • Doug

        Well, Jackson could possibly be a different story because he’s a legit top 25 prospect. But I think his limitations (high K rate, only average power) cap him at about that level. So, if you can somehow use his curret .335 BA and turn that top 25 prospect into a top 10 prospect, or a very good (and young) major leaguer, you explore that.

        • A.D.

          The problem is the prospect for prospect trade doesn’t happen often, and even less so position for position. The Yankees want a young talented outfielder, preferably center. They have one, so realistically trading one for another one would be odd.

          What the hope would be is that someone like Kroneke might be the last piece in some deal, when before (and potentially in the future) he wouldn’t be. I.e. to get that reliever you can now go Kontos + Kroneke and its gets done, when that wouldn’t have been the case at the beginning of the season.

          • Doug

            absolutely agree with you. yanks need a future CFer and they have one in jackson. and you’re unlikely to improve on him at the prospect level.

            but maybe you somehow use him + others to get an established, but still young CFer. maybe like sizemore (just throwing his name out there as an example)

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              maybe like sizemore (just throwing his name out there as an example)

              Don’t.

              • Doug

                meaning?

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Don’t throw his name out there. Even when you say “I’m just throwing his name out there.”

                  Throw someone’s name out who’s actually acquirable, that’s all I ask. Grady Sizemore is as untouchable as Derek Jeter in his prime.

                • Doug

                  but isn’t everyone’s acquirable, for the right price

    • K.B.D.

      Minor league players can be swapped, it just doesn’t happen often.

    • Jake K.

      Every organization has guys like Kroenke. Not saying he’s of no value, but there’s nothing particularly special about him. He’s a guy who could be a throw in to a deal, but not its centerpiece.

  • http://amonthhoffundays.blogspot.com/ Phil in LA

    They’ve been working on shortening AJack’s swing and I think that might be what is producing the career best LD%. He’s also walking more which is something the organization wants for all prospects, including Reegie, who actually took some walks as a teenager in SI.

    • K.B.D.

      Austin Jackson’s current BB rate is 10.8% after a 9.7% in 2008. That’s not exactly a huge jump.

      • Doug

        actually not a jump at all…just pulled the #s and it looks like the ratios are exactly the same:
        2008: 56/584 = 9.59%
        2009: 23/240 = 9.58%

      • ChrisS

        No, but with a limited range, a 1 point increase is pretty good. What’s the highest BB Rate? 19%? 25%? 1% is paltry if the scales goes to 100, but it doesn’t.

  • J

    Reegie Corona’s numbers really stand out. When I see the eye improving that much, that has to partially reflect improved eye skills. Maybe some of the pitchers he’s faced have been wild, but he’s only struck out 20 times, so that means he’s gotta be only swinging at balls near the strike zone or makes good contact consistently. His average isn’t that far off from his BABIP so he’s not outrageously lucky. He’s also struggled at AAA this year so evaluating him now may be premature before we see what he does in AAA with more time. Could he be a breakout? Maybe. Reegie’s always been known for a strong glove and now he’s hitting his stride as a 22 year old in AA.

    • CapitalT

      I think Reegie may be showing actual maturation and improvement. Sure his BABIP will probably regress a little but there is no reason his walk rate should also decline. In fact, his walk rate could be demonstrating a better eye and swinging at better pitches that he can handle and thus the improved BABIP.

      Otherwise, I think the article is a great summary of what we can expect from players in the remainder of the season

  • http://link John85

    I think publication in journals and online goes a long way toward spreading your name and work around and garnering interest. ,