Jesus Montero’s reverse splitBy
As Jesus Montero gets closer to the big leagues, more and more words are being written about him on a daily basis and it’s not always good. I looked at the ups-and-downs of his stock within the last three (!!!) months alone not too long ago, which just goes to show how every little thing gets over-analyzed. We all know about the immense offensive potential and the poor defense behind the plate, but there’s one aspect of Montero’s game that no one has mentioned: the guy has a pretty pronounced reverse platoon split. Here look…
The data comes from Driveline Baseball’s minor league splits database and is park adjusted, which is important because the ballparks in Charleston, Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are all pitcher-friendly, some to the extreme (coughTrentoncough). Obviously 430 plate appearances against lefties isn’t the biggest of sample sizes, but the ~70% to ~30% PA ratio is in line with the big league ratio of RHP to LHP. The walk rate is not adjusted for intentional walks since we just don’t have that splits data, but Montero has only been intentionally walked six times in his career. If we assume they all came from lefties, his walk rate drops to 8.7% after cutting them out.
Part of what makes Montero so impressive is his opposite field power, which is something we can’t verify with spray charts and will instead just have to trust the scouting reports (from Baseball America’s top ten write-up in December (subs. req’d): “[Montero] has well above-average power, particularly to the opposite field, making him well-suited for Yankee Stadium.”). Power the other way has long been one of the best indicators of future power potential in prospects because it requires big-time physical strength and an advanced approach, and Montero certainly has it. If the reverse platoon split is a true talent (which is could very easily not be), well then he’s a hitter well suited for a league dominated by right-handed pitchers and a ballpark with a short porch in right.
Montero, still just 21, is off to a scorching hot start in Triple-A this year, picking up right where he left off in 2011. He went hitless for the first time on Sunday, but still has a ~.440 wOBA and has struck just five times in 42 plate appearances. I honestly think the zero walks has more to do with a) sample size, and b) Montero being too good for the level than it does with a flaw in his approach, because he’s shown in the past that he’ll take walks when he doesn’t get anything to hit. Almost every other team would have this guy in the big leagues already, and pretty soon it won’t matter who the Yankees are paying to play where, Montero will force his way into the lineup and eventually blossom into an impact bat.