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So says Bob Elliott in the Toronto Sun, for reasons known only to him. Thanks to Steve Z. for linking to this column in another thread; it's worth a separate discussion.

The portrayal of Wells as a perennial All-Star combination of Devon White's glove and Pat Burrell's bat is optimistic and premature, to say the least. The suggestion that Vernon is worth more to the Jays than Roy Halladay is just silly. Elliott pitches his illogical plan to Ted Rogers, who doesn't know or care enough about baseball to make such decisions, and by inference, to casual fans. The front office isn't listening anyway, especially when he slips in yet another mudslinging shot at Team Ricciardi for sacking Bob's former sources, the scouts who couldn't adjust to an enlightened philosophy.

Why not wait a year (or two) and see if Vernon can make better contact before giving him the keys to the vault? He's a fine young man, and a promising player, but what's the rush? When -- if -- the Jays decide to spend the owner's millions on long-term deals, Doc will be at the front of the line, and Eric Hinske should be ahead of Wells. Nonsense like this reminds us that some of the local writers may have an axe to grind, but they don't have a clue.
Vernon Wells: Jays' MVP? | 33 comments | Create New Account
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_Mike H. - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 03:48 PM EST (#96720) #
http://filebox.vt.edu/users/mjhansen/baseball.htm
I completely agree with you, Coach. One thing that Elliot completely misses is that it is MUCH harder to develop a young All-star pitcher than it is to develop an all-star outfielder. The Jays should know. The Jays have developed quite a few great outfielders (Stewart, Shawn Green, Wells), but not that many great pitchers. The Jays have had their share of good pitching over the years, but the farm system has been dry for the most part, which has lead to the deals for the Traschels and Loaizas of years past. It would be better for Rodgers, and the casual fan, to sign Halliday to a long term contract, especially if he continues from his all-star 2002 campaign.
_Ryan Adams - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 04:14 PM EST (#96721) #
Normally I enjoy Elliott's column. His analysis is usually terrible, but in the past he has been able to provide some insight.

Unfortunately he's been imitating Richard Griffin lately. This column made me think of one Griffin did a year ago when he wrote an open letter to Bud Selig, asking to become the GM of the Expos (which would have been perfectly fine with me). With Elliott apparently out of the loop now when it comes to the Jays, we can probably expect similar idiocy from now on.
Coach - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 04:49 PM EST (#96722) #
Elliott once got some Jays "leaks," but the well has gone dry. What amazes me is that he wants to throw money at a kid who won't even be arbitration-eligible until after the 2004 season! From the FAQ on the MLBPA site:

A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super-Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service.

There's a catch; only the top 17% -- in terms of total service time -- of players with two-plus years get Super-Two status. Let me get out my slide rule (OK, I'm really taking off my socks; still more research than Elliott did) -- Vernon Wells will have two years and about 115 days of service time after the upcoming season. That has never been enough to qualify as a Super-Two, so the Jays will almost certainly be able to renew his contract for another year. Think everyone will have a better idea of his value after two more full seasons? Maybe then, if he's become Pat the Bat with Devo's glove, the Jays will consider an extension, but there's still no panic, except at the Sun.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 05:12 PM EST (#96723) #
I propose a challenge to all fellow dwellers at this blog: no more commenting on anything written by the Toronto news media.

Griffin, Elliott, Perkins, Simmons ... Barrels, fish, guns. Is there really and truly any point in continually critiquing their essays? (You like the way I followed Simmons' name with his much beloved ellipsis?)

I certainly concede that it's fun taking pokes at two-digit IQ scribes who make a living at a profession that any number of us could do with more integrity and insight. But apart from the cheap thrills, what is the point?

As I commented in the recent Griffin thread, deconstructing these men's work is really giving them a level of respect they don't deserve. Kind of like probing the subtext of a Russ Meyer movie.

We know what they're going to offer up for the next 8 months: mind numbing innumeracy, thinly veiled anti-front office hostility, and dubious analyses of all manner of things. This isn't going to change.

I say take the high road and limit our debates to the works of those with thoughtful, if often controversial, opinions like the folks at Prospectus and Primer, and writers like Rob Neyer, John Sickels and Don Malcolm.

Just one man's opinion.
Pistol - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 06:17 PM EST (#96724) #
http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/wellsve01.shtml
The comparison to Burrell isn't that much of a stretch.

Wells Slg%, age 23 - .457
Burrell Slg%, age 23 - .463

Of course.....

Wells OBP, age 23 - .305
Burrell OBP, age 23 - .359

I get down on Wells because of his OBP. However, what I frequently overlook is that Wells' season last year was when he was 23.

Interestingly, his 3rd comparable at age 23 is Shawn Green.

But as already pointed out, what's the rush if he's not arb eligible until after next season.

Apparently Elliott didn't look at Burrell's contract because he said the Jays wouldn't have to deal with the escalating nature of contracts in arbitration.

From ESPN: "He (Burrell) gets annual salaries of $1 million in 2003, $4 million in 2004, $7 million in 2005, $9.5 million in 2006, $13 million in 2007 and $14 million in 2008. Burrell also receives a $1.5 million signing bonus."
Dave Till - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 06:42 PM EST (#96725) #
While I think that signing Wells to a long-term deal now would be a bad idea, since his service time is low, I think there's a distinct possibility that Wells might turn out to be as good as Elliott thinks he is. (I admit to being biased - Wells is probably my favourite current Jay.)

Right now, Wells is basically Joe Carter with the bat, but with Devon White's range in centre field. If Wells takes another step or two forward, he could become an All-Star player. He'll take those steps forward if he learns to be selective at the plate when pitchers start pitching to him more carefully. (I've often thought that many young hitters find it hard to draw walks, as pitchers are often still challenging them with fastballs down the middle. Even the most disciplined hitter in baseball can't draw a walk unless he is thrown four pitches out of the strike zone.)

While Hinske is a better player than Wells right now, for some reason I think of Hinske as a finished product. Perhaps this is because Hinske played at roughly the same level all year. Wells visibly improved as a player as the season went on.

Of course, Halladay could wind up with a better career than either Hinske or Wells - his upside is 250 career wins and the Hall of Fame. I don't see Wells or Hinske having a chance at Cooperstown. But Halladay, being a pitcher, has more chance of a career-ending injury than either Wells or Hinske, both of whom are quite durable; Halladay still has to prove that he can handle 200+ innings a year without arm damage. (Recall that Carpenter looked like a potential staff ace this time last year.)
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 06:51 PM EST (#96726) #
To continue the Burrell/Wells comp, it's worth noting that Burrell's minor league OPS's at ages 21, 22 and 23 (before being called up mid-season) were 946, 1069 (and then 503 in 33 AAA AB), 917. During this period, he walked a ton.

We all remember Vernon Wells' amazing age 20 season in which he played at every level from A ball to majors. But then he hit a wall at ages 21 and 22, with very unimpressive AAA OPS's of 745 and 786. During his entire professional career, he has never once cracked the AB:BB ratio of 10:1.

Some comments (flame away!):

1. Burrell's minor league stats and progress in his 3 MLB seasons suggest a player who could become one of baseball's top ten hitters. His historically high walk rates suggest that a 400 OBP is not out of the question.

2. Wells' extremely troubling age 21 and 22 seasons at the same level suggest that his ceiling is nowhere near Burrell's. Further, his historic lack of plate discipline means he'll have to hit .310 to post a league average OBP.

3. Burrell looks like he'll grow up to be Brian Giles. Vernon Wells looks like he'll grow up to be Joe Carter.

4. I concede that the gap between Burrell and Wells is reduced due to Burrell's below-average LF and Well's above-average CF. But these two players appear to be in different area codes offensively.

5. The Jays once had a CF whose minor league record did not jibe with the pronouncements of impending stardom continually offered up. Choosing to ignore Wells' minor league track record would be falling into the same trap.

6. As usual, I'd be more than happy to be proven wrong.
_jason - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 07:01 PM EST (#96727) #
The Wells-Burrell comparison isn't a bad one, Wells has a little more speed with a little less power. However, I wonder a couple of things. With the MLB market the way it is will good players be able to make a case to be payed in excess of 10 million dollars in arbitration given that nobody else will be getting those sort of deals anymore. (Maybe this FA off-season was an aberation but it seems the down economy and Beane economics indicate that this will be more of a trend.) It might very well be worth it to go to arbitration if a player is wanting a lucrative long-term deal.

Secondly, the Jays have a number of young players who you could argue it would be a good idea to sign long-term but the reality is that if Halladay, Phelps, Hinske, Wells, Hudson, etc..., all play near their potential then you are going to have some tough decisions to make. It probably won't be possible to sign them all to long-term deals, and it seems like the A's strategy is to always have young talent coming up the pipe so that everyone, except perhaps for SP, is expendable. (I doubt the A's will sign Tjeda to the deal he wants.) So I'd look to the Jays to certainly sign Halladay long-term and maybe Hinske as the Jays don't to my knowledge have anybody else ready, willing, and able to assume 3rd base duties.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 07:04 PM EST (#96728) #
I know that following my own post is bad form, but here I go...

I was never a fan of Joe Carter's. However, if Vernon Wells can hit like Joe Carter and play a top notch defensive CF, then that's a solid player.

I am not as bullish as most about Wells, but I do believe he is contributing now and will continue to do so. Will he turn into Torii Hunter (a player with similar across-the-board skills)? Perhaps. Hell, who knew Torii Hunter would turn into Torii Hunter.
_jason - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 07:14 PM EST (#96729) #
"3. Burrell looks like he'll grow up to be Brian Giles. Vernon Wells looks like he'll grow up to be Joe Carter."

I'll take that! Joe Carter with Devon White's D. If Joe. C was hitting in this inflated offense era his numbers would look a lot like Giles, in fact, they do kind of look like Giles. If Giles can have the consistency of a Joe Carter with the numbers he's putting up he'll be a sure HOFer.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 07:40 PM EST (#96730) #
Joe Carter's best OPS+: 130 (age 26, with Cleveland)
Joe Carter's best OBP: 335
Joe Carter's best BB: 49
Joe Carter's OPS+ as a Blue Jay: 124, 119, 111, 113, 88, 90, 76
Joe Carter's career OPS+: 104

Brian Giles' best OPS+: 173
Brian Giles' best OBP: 450
Brian Giles' best BB: 135
Brian Giles' OPS+ his whole career: 161, 112, 120, 157, 158, 153, 173
Brian Giles' career OPS+: 150

With all due respect, these players are as different as night and day... or at least night and dawn.

As a full-time player, Brian Giles has already posted 4 OPS+'s which were better than Carter's very best. Giles' career OPS+ is significantly better than Carter's single-season best.

Joe Carter had one skill above all others that allowed him to rack up 100 RBI seasons: his ability to stay healthy and in the lineup.

Carter's career OPS+ is barely above league average. He mainly played a corner OF, and rarely with distinction, so once you position-adjust his OPS+, you can argue that he was a below-average player for his career.
_jason - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 08:15 PM EST (#96731) #
Joe Carter, a below-average player for his career?

"He mainly played a corner OF, and rarely with distinction..."

The idea that he wasn't a good defensive player isn't true. He had decent range and a good arm. He was good enough defensively to play 432 games as a CF. Just because somebody doesn't win a gold glove doesn't mean they weren't a good defensive player. I've seen both Joe Carter and Tony Gwynn play the OF, mostly in RF, and I can't say that Tony was any better defensively than Joe. I think they are comparable in that regard.

"Joe Carter had one skill above all others that allowed him to rack up 100 RBI seasons: his ability to stay healthy and in the lineup."

Cal Ripken, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray are all players reknowned for consistency and steady production. Isn't being able to stay in the lineup and produce year in and year out as valuable a commodity as any?

Also he stole more than 20+ bases 6 times in his career and was a good big game clutch hitter.

I agree that Giles isn't the best player to compare Carter too, perhaps I was a little to hasty, but again, we are playing in an offesively inflated era and I think Joe's numbers, including OPS and SLG, would be higher if he was hitting today.

If you are going to condem Joe to being a below average player in his career maybe you should do the same for Kirby Puckett who's SLG% was only slightly better than Joe's and who didn't display the power or speed that Joe did.

On the subject of Puckett, I think, looking at his career numbers, that he is as good a player as any, and perhaps Andruw Jones, to compare Wells to.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 09:06 PM EST (#96732) #
Just because somebody doesn't win a gold glove doesn't mean they weren't a good defensive player.

Even if Carter were above-average defensively for his entire career, his OPS+ of 104 is still not great. First basemen and corner outfielders historically post the highest OPS's. For proper context, Carter must be compared to players who were limited to playing a corner OF position and there's no way that an OPS+ of 104 can be considered average within that context.

...we are playing in an offesively inflated era and I think Joe's numbers, including OPS and SLG, would be higher if he was hitting today.

Joe Carter's career OPS was 771 compared to the league's 749.

Brian Giles' career OPS is 986 compared to the league's 786.

OPS+ compares OPS to league average, thereby taking into account the differences in offensive context. That said, you can see that their offensive contexts are not wildly different.

Isn't being able to stay in the lineup and produce year in and year out as valuable a commodity as any?

It's certainly valuable to be able to count on the good health of a given player and not have to make staffing decisions as a contingency. Still, when that's your single greatest trait, it hardly makes you a superstar.

...and was a good big game clutch hitter.

Yes, Carter hit one very "clutch" homerun. Still, his career post-season OPS was 739, even less than his career regular season OPS of 771.

If you are going to condem Joe to being a below average player in his career maybe you should do the same for Kirby Puckett who's SLG% was only slightly better than Joe's and who didn't display the power or speed that Joe did.

Puckett's career OPS+ was 124 (I do concede that his OPS+ would have declined had he stayed healthy and played into his mid- and late-30's). He played CF for the vast majority of his career, not LF/RF like Carter, and he was actually a very good defensive player for much of it.
_Jonny German - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 09:26 PM EST (#96733) #
Consider these numbers:


Year Age AB R HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Wells 2002 23 608 87 23 100 27 85 9 4 .275 .305 .457 .762
Hunter 2000 25 336 44 5 44 18 68 4 3 .280 .318 .408 .726
2001 26 564 82 27 92 29 125 9 6 .261 .306 .479 .785
Jones 1997 20 399 60 18 70 56 107 20 11 .231 .329 .416 .745
1998 21 582 97 31 90 40 129 27 4 .271 .321 .515 .836


Considering these are all very good defensive centre fielders, they are surprisingly similar except for the age factor. Jones is definetly a cut above the other two, but I like Vernon's chances of being just as good or better than Hunter.

Does anybody know how Hunter did in the minors? I'm guessing Jones was a phenom all the way or he wouldn't have been a full time player so young. Is there any reason to think Vernon's 1999 season was the aberration? He was considered a top prospect before that season as well, and I'd say his 2002 season was very acceptable as an adjust-to-the-majors year.

As for Carter, you have to give him some credit for being a team leader and a fun guy to watch. Ask anybody to quickly name three players from the championship teams: Carter will be on everybody's list.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 10:11 PM EST (#96734) #
Does anybody know how Hunter did in the minors?

A decent age-19 OPS of 797, then nothing much until a 767 OPS at age 23. He smacked around AAA pitching in 92 AB's, but that was the PCL, where all numbers come with a huge asterisk.

In his 4 major league seasons (ages 24-27), his OPS's have been 689, 726, 784, 859.

The success he experienced in 2002 was in no way foreseeable given his minor league track record. Hunter's progression has been far from typical and hoping that Wells will follow a similar path is, if theoretically possible, highly unlikely.

I'm guessing Jones was a phenom all the way or he wouldn't have been a full time player so young.

After trashing the minors at ages 18 and 19, Jones was a rookie at 19 and a regular at age 20. He already has 7 full seasons under his belt despite being just a year and a half older than Vernon Wells.

You said that Jones is definitely a cut above Hunter and Wells and you are absolutely right. While Jones has been a disappointment only in that he has not turned into Willie Mays, he is in a different league than the other two, unless you believe that Hunter's 859 OPS in 2002 suddenly represents his new level of ability (for what it's worth, I certainly don't).

There's no way that Wells ends up ever being compared to Jones.

I'd say his 2002 season was very acceptable as an adjust-to-the-majors year.

I am not disputing this, though I'd suggest that Wells' ceiling would be much higher had he accomplished this at a younger age. To my mind, I would be much more excited about his future had he smacked around AAA pitching in 2000 and been major-league ready in 2001 (even if the numbers game would have precluded him from making the jump to the majors). That he had to repeat AAA, and still not even put up an OPS of 800, is something that I can't let go of.

Maybe Wells will turn into a star. Nothing's written in stone that he won't. I just can't get past his struggles in 2000 and 2001.

As for Carter, you have to give him some credit for being a team leader and a fun guy to watch.

Well, that's a subjective thing. Personally, Carter never did it for me. To my mind, he was one of the most over-rated players of the past generation.
_jason - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 10:16 PM EST (#96735) #
My point is that OPS is not the be all and end all of a player's worth.

"Still, when that's your single greatest trait, it hardly makes you a superstar."

Cal Ripken was a superstar. What is the one thing he is remembered for? His numbers are darn similar to Joe's. Yeah, yeah, he played SS and 3B. Carter is at least as good as Dale Murphy or Jim Rice and I'm sure you don't think they're below average.

Obviously, being put in the line-up for 17 season means he had more than just good health to offer. He was able to make the All-Star team 5 times.

In the end it is performance + consistency that gets one into the HOF. A couple years ago people would have put Griffey and Thomas as shoe-ins for the HOF, while they still might get in, they certainly aren't shoe-ins anymore.

"Yes, Carter hit one very "clutch" homerun."

That's one more than Brian Giles or 99.99% of the league will ever hit.

And again you can't discount his balance of speed and power. In 1987, he lead the league in power/speed number.

If you do consider Joe below average, could you give me a player from Joe's era you consider average?
_Ryan Adams - Saturday, February 08 2003 @ 10:21 PM EST (#96736) #
\Does anybody know how Hunter did in the minors? I'm guessing Jones was a phenom all the way or he wouldn't have been a full time player so young.\

Here's Hunter and Jones.

\Is there any reason to think Vernon's 1999 season was the aberration? He was considered a top prospect before that season as well, and I'd say his 2002 season was very acceptable as an adjust-to-the-majors year.\

His 2002 season was better than I was expecting, but it wasn't out of line with his minor league numbers (outside of 1999).

As for 1999, I'm doubtful we'll see him hit .340 like he did in Dunedin and Knoxville. If he ever hits as well as he did overall in 1999, my guess is that it'll be because his power improved and the coaching staff taught him how to take a walk. I'd like to see how he progresses in 2003 before I draw any conclusions about him.
Pepper Moffatt - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 08:47 AM EST (#96737) #
http://economics.about.com
To put your Carter - Ripken comparison in context:

Can you imagine at *any* point in time trading Cal Ripken straight up for Joe Carter? Nobody in their right mind would. The comparison is easy to make, since their careers overlapped.

RE: Carter - Rice - Murph

Murphy: Career WARP = 90.2, MVP titles = 2
Rice: Career WARP = 92.6, MVP titles = 1
Carter: Career WARP = 71.4, MVP titles = 0

Carter was a very good player, but he more falls into the Al Oliver, Rico Carty, Andy Van Slyke level of players.

Roberto Alomar was the key to those Jays teams, not Carter.
Lucas - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 10:13 AM EST (#96738) #
http://www.baseballblog.blogspot.com
Hi Guys -

Interesting discussion, as always.
I just wanted to add in something about Hunter...

Does anybody know how Hunter did in the minors?

Torii was never really that great in the minors, but everyone talked about his "tools" and, of course, his defense.

One interesting thing is that he was actually demoted to AAA in the middle of the 2000 season and was outwardly angry/surprised/hurt by the decision.
At the time, he was hitting .207/.243/.300, after hitting only .255/.309/.380 with the Twins in 1999.

He went to AAA and absolutely hit the snot out of the ball for 2 months (.368/.403/.727 with 18 homers and 17 doubles...in 55 games!) before the Twins called him back up and put him back in CF.

Since then, he has been a very good hitter. It was almost like someone flipped a switch in his brain by demoting him.

He came back up in 2000 and hit .332/.371/.485 the rest of the year and then followed that up with very good 2001 and 2002 seasons.

I don't know if it is a coincidence or not, but before the demotion he was just a toolsy outfielder that showed signs of good things to come, but struggled to hit with any sort of consistency. After the demotion, and I mean immediately after, he suddenly became a good hitter and has been ever since.

I sometimes lose sight of the fact that these numbers that I always talk about are actually produced by human beings, not just "baseball players." I don't know how to put what happened to Hunter in terms of something you can prove or measure, but something happened and whatever it is, I am glad it did!
Coach - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 10:22 AM EST (#96739) #
Roberto Alomar was the key to those Jays teams, not Carter.

The guy who got them both for Cabeza and McGriff was the key to everything good that ever happened in Toronto. The guy in the same office now is off to a fantastic start; I won't rate J.P. against St. Pat for a while, but even considering that is the highest praise.

I'm squarely in the wait-and-see camp on Wells, so I can't compare him to anyone yet. I've already suggested he swings right through fastballs because of an easily-fixed mechanical flaw. If Mike Barnett reads BB, and can get through to Vernon that he needs to watch the ball all the way into the catcher's glove, I expect immediate improvement. If it's a habit Wells can't (or won't) break, I think he'll be traded in 2005 or 2006, when he gets too expensive to justify keeping.

At the risk of annoying Jason, I think Joe Carter was charismatic, but vastly overrated. And I know "clutch ability," like "team chemistry," acupuncture and trickle-down economics, is hard to take seriously for some, but Joe had a Reggie-esque sense of rising to an occasion. One other thing: Worst. Announcer. Ever.
Dave Till - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 12:24 PM EST (#96740) #
I find discussions of Joe Carter fascinating because, in other forums, they have often generated more heat than light. Many people hold strong opinions on Carter's worth: at one extreme, some people think of him as a serious Hall of Fame candidate (NB: I don't). At the other extreme, some people believe that he was a drag on his teams for selfishly hogging all the RBI's that, by rights, should have been shared among his teammates. (This is the Plate Discipline as Moral Imperative school of sabermetrics.) For such people, praising Carter is as offensive as passing wind in public (and I'm not exaggerating by much here).

On the STATLG-L mailing list, even mentioning Carter is considered bad form; he's often referred to as Jxx Cxxxxx, if he is mentioned at all.

My own belief is that Carter was a valuable player in his prime because of his power and durability, but didn't reach base often enough to be among the true stars of the game. His decline phase, which started shortly after his homer off Mitch Williams, was obscured by the inflation of offensive statistics that started in the mid-1990's; superficially, Carter's 1996 stats look like his 1992 stats.

(Note to Coach: if you're looking to temporarily increase the number of hits on your site - for the Internet equivalent of a sweeps week - try starting a thread on Pete Rose. And then duck. :-))
Dave Till - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 12:28 PM EST (#96741) #
Oh, and Coach: Joe wasn't the worst announcer ever. I still think that honour belongs to Fergie Olver. Joe was bad, but he was amusingly bad - I enjoyed hearing his pronunciation of words such as "roof", and I always enjoyed guessing when he would first drag in a reference to his Series-winning home run in 1993.

Olver, on the other hand, was a smarmy munchkin.
_jason - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 04:25 PM EST (#96742) #
As bad as an announcer as Joe was, and he was, I still will take him over the very stiff and uninsightful Cerrutti, and his partner at CBC the obnoxious Brian Williams.
_snellville jone - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 04:38 PM EST (#96743) #
I saw that Jack Morris was going to be the color guy for the Tigers' broadcast team this year. I'm just waiting for Sparky Anderson to hold a press conference announcing that the '84 team's coup has been a success and they will be suiting up for another run at the pennant.
_Jordan - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 07:28 PM EST (#96744) #
To my mind, Vernon Wellsís ideal career comp is Andre Dawson: speed, power, great centerfield, few walks. Here are their respective age 23 seasons.

G-----AB-------R-----H----2B--3B---HR--RBI---SB/CS-----BB/K---------BA/OBP/SLG

Dawson (23)
157----609----84---154----24---8---25---72-----28/11----30/128-----.253/.299/.442
Wells (23)
159----608----87---167----34---4---23---100----9/4-------27/85------.275/.305/.457

Granting that Wells plays in a livelier-ball era, that Andreís Expos ran more than Vernonís Jays will, and that Dawson had a full season of major-league games under his belt at 23, thatís still remarkably similar. I personally doubt Wells will ever develop much plate discipline, but if he walks just 45 times in one season, heíll have done better than the Hawk ever managed. And if Wells does what he did in 2002 for the balance of his career, well Ö Dawson ended up with 438 homers and a plus-800 career OPS, not to mention eight Gold Gloves.
_Jurgen Maas - Sunday, February 09 2003 @ 09:28 PM EST (#96745) #
Wells has already done something Hunter hasn't--100 RBIs in a season. And although we might agree that RBIs are a might overrated, I think we can all agree that it says something about Mr. Straight-Up-for-Shawn-Green that he's yet to reach that plateau.

Does that mean Wells is already worth a Torii Hunter like contract? No. But I don't think Hunter is either. The fact that this continues to go unchallenged means I think his trade value could have been incredibly high for the Twins if they were worried about arbitration in upcoming years.

Hunter and Cameron are very similar players when you actually compare the stats, but Cameron never seems to get this over-hype. (Maybe having to fill Griffey's shoes, rather than the more modest Puckett's, has something to do with it.) They're both good players to have, but neither are superstars.

Andruw and Edmonds and the rangeless Bernie are the real deals in CF. (IF Vernon turns into Pat Burrell at the plate, I'd include him, too.) Everybody else are pretenders.
_jason - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 12:27 AM EST (#96746) #
Jurgen,

Don't forget to include Lance Berkman in that bunch. He probably shouldn't be in CF, but hey, he is. And he can hit like an S.O.B..

(If Biggio is indeed playing CF this year, I have to wonder how long that will last. Breaking into the OF near the end of your career can't be easy but to have to do it in CF seems downright daunting.)
robertdudek - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 12:32 AM EST (#96747) #
This discussion has spurred me to take a close look at young outfielders of recent vintage. I hope to have an article posted about Vernon Wells in comparison to these outfielders.

Here's a little tidbit. I looked at all players who had had at least 400 career PA through their age 24 season, and who were born between Jan 1, 1969 and Dec 31, 1978. There were 129 such players, and the LEAST similar hitter to Vernon Wells was ...

It really wasn't even close. This guy left the second most dissimilar hitter (Bobby Abreu) in the dust. It was Pat Burrell.
_Jurgen Maas - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 02:55 AM EST (#96748) #
Jason:

I first thought you meant don't forget to include Berkman in the sub-century RBI mark. It really is late.

I keep forgetting Houston keeps throwing him out in CF. I suppose Beltran is knocking at the door, too.

It's interesting to see that Berkman's VORP in '02 is actually lower than Bernie's and Jim's. And that's not taking their defense into consideration: "VORP, by itself, does not make any measurement of the quality of a player's defense at the position he plays. In other words, VORP implicitly assumes that all defenders at a position are equally good fielders" (Woolner).

But all of this has me thinking... Edmonds has really really taken it up a notch since his move to the NL. While you might argue that he's overrated with the glove, he's certainly solid, and you can't argue with those numbers he puts up at the plate. It's a shame about the injuries over the years, because in the end he'll likely just fall short of HOF numbers.
_jason - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 03:15 AM EST (#96749) #
While we're mentioning Beltran we also shouldn't forget Mr.Damon. Not quite the hitter as Beltran, but as good defensively as any AL CF and an excellent base stealer with a good OBP.
Coach - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 09:44 AM EST (#96750) #
Robert, that's hilarious. Not your imminent, credible Wells study, which I look forward to, but 128 better comps for him than Burrell. I wouldn't have guessed more than 50; my self-imposed moratorium on local-columnist-trashing is not going to be easy.

Jason, I love Beltran and Damon in fantasy ball, but I'd rate them with Erstad; I believe Cameron, Hunter and even Wells are better AL CF with the glove.

And if Cameron played anywhere else...

(last 3 years)
Home .219/.328/.356
Away .292/.375/.542

His OPS has been .233 higher on the road since he became a Mariner.
_Jurgen Maas - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 12:09 PM EST (#96751) #
Coach:

Thanks for those Cameron splits. More fuel for my anti-Hunter diatribes.
_Richard - Monday, February 10 2003 @ 03:54 PM EST (#96752) #
It'll be an interesting case study,can Wells gain plate discipline under an organization that worships OBP.Carter had Cito Gaston(look for something to pull!)as his hitting guru.Personally I'm not sure this skill can be learned at the major league level to any great degree.If Well's does however gain some modicum of patience....look out!His bat speed is something to behold.
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