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There has been some lively discussion round these parts and elsewhere regarding the Jays handling of young Travis Snider. A wide spectrum of opinions have been expressed. These views generally range from "the kid should be out there every day" to "the kid has been rushed through the system for no readily apparent reason."

Okay, I may be the only guy on the surface of the earth who holds the second opinion.


These are all just opinions, of course. Perhaps it's in the very nature of things that when all we have is our opinion - because none of us, on either side of the discussion, actually have anything more than that - we tend to bring out the hyperbole. If you're frustrated by Snider's amount of playing time, you may indeed start speculating that his erratic playing schedule may do him harm someway, somehow. This in turn prompts someone holding the opposite view (that would be me, hello!) to start calling such people a bunch of hysterical old women. (I didn't actually say that.) And on the other hand, why wouldn't you rush a player to the major leagues if you think there's nothing left for him to prove in the minors. Why wouldn't you play him every day if you think he's demonstrated conclusively that he can deal with major league pitching. For sure, a whole lot of people have come to the majors a whole lot faster than Snider has.

So my purpose here is to simply take a walk back through the Misty Annals of Years Past, and review how the Jays have managed their top hitting prospects. I then want to try to speculate a little as to what we should actually expect out of Travis Snider, Major Leaguer. (Because some of you do sound as if you're expecting Babe Ruth Mark II, and actually seem to believe that he is already one of the best hitters on the team. To which one can only say "Down, boy.")

I am aided in my Quest by the great Dave Till's 2004 opus on this very Batter's Box (here and here, although Dave observes that some of it appears to have been eaten by moths.) Dave's stated purpose was to provide† "info on every Blue Jays hitting prospect I could think of since the dawn of recorded time." Even better, Dave assigned each prospect a Buzz Factor, "which is a non-scientific estimate of the amount of hype the player generated, from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest)." I love the Buzz Factor...

Travis Snider is 22 years and 7 months old. We're going to stop the clock at that moment is the lifetime of all the Jays' interesting home-grown prospects and see how they stand, relative to one another. First, let's run the numbers. They're being listed in the number of major league plate appearances they had accumulated at that point in their lives.

Player†††††††††††††††††††††† G†† PA††† AB†† R†† H†† 2B 3B  HR  RBI† SB† CS† BB†  SO† BAVG†  OBP†† SLG†† OPS
Lloyd Moseby (May 1982) 358 1407 1284† 126 296† 64† 7 28 142† 27† 26† 84 280† .231 .279† .357† .636
Travis Snider (Aug 2010) 153†† 556† 496†† 66 124† 33† 1† 19†† 63†† 4†† 3† 52† 152† .250† .323† .435† .759
Alex Gonzalez (Nov 1995) 126 484 420 58 97 22 5 10 43 7 4 48 131 .231 .310 .379 .689
John Olerud† (Feb 1991) †† 117†† 429† 366†† 45† 98† 15† 1† 14†† 48†† 0†† 2† 57†† 76† .268† .364† .429† .793
Tony Fernandez (Feb 1985) 103†† 292† 267†† 34† 72†† 6† 4†† 3†† 21†† 5†† 8† 19†† 17† .270† .318† .356† .674
Jesse Barfield (May 1982) 68†† 236† 215†† 26† 54†† 8† 4† 5†† 28†† 5†† 5† 17† 46† .251† .312† .395† .707
George Bell† (May 1982) 60†† 168† 163†† 19† 38†† 2† 1†† 5†† 12†† 3†† 2†† 5†† 27† .233† .256 .350 .606
Carlos Delgado† (Feb 1995) 45†† 161† 131†† 17† 28†† 2† 0†† 9†† 24†† 1†† 1† 26†† 46† .214† .354† .435 .789
Shawn Green† (May 1995) 44†† 127† 120†† 16† 26†† 5† 0†† 5†† 15†† 1†† 2†† 5†† 25† .217 .260† .383 .643
Vernon Wells† (Jun 2001) 35†† 125† 120†† 14† 31†† 6† 0†† 2†† 10†† 3†† 1†† 5†† 24† .258† .288† .358† .646
Fred McGriff (May 1986) 3††† 5††† 5††† 1†† 1†† 0† 0†† 0††† 0†† 0†† 0†† 0††† 2† .200† .200† .200† .400

There are numerous other talented major league hitters, from Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten to Alex Rios and Aaron Hill, who came up through the Toronto system. Derek Bell. But none of them had played in the majors at this age. (Bell just misses - he was a couple weeks older than Snider is now when he made his ML debut, a mid-season cup of coffee in 1991.)† And the age factor is everything. Glenallen Hill, for example, was a slugging outfield prospect who struck out a great deal - rather like Snider. And Hill's AAA performance was actually better than Snider's - hitting .321 and slugging .578 at Syracuse in the International League is much more impressive than hitting .337 and slugging .639 in the PCL (not to mention Hill did this for 125 games, Snider for just 48.) But - and here's the rub - Hill was 24 years old when he did these things. Snider was just 21. It makes all the difference in the world. (Hill was also repeating the level.)

Anyway, if there's nothing to see, we're moving right along.

Lloyd Moseby

Dave gave the Shaker a Buzz Factor of 9 and commented that:

If you want to think of what would have happened to Vernon Wells had he been promoted to the majors right away, look at Moseby. The Shaker rocketed through the minors even faster than V-Dub did...


In fact no Blue Jay prospect was ever pushed to the Show faster than Moseby. (Snider, as it happens, is a fairly distant second.) Pat Gillick did many, many things extremely well during his long tenure running the Blue Jays. But Gillick very likely holds the all-time GM record for most first-round draft picks completely squandered on useless non-entities (most GMs who blow that many picks don't get to stay GMs.) Moseby was the glorious exception. He was taken second overall in 1978 (the highest Jays draft pick ever!) and he was still just a teenager when he tore up the Florida State League in his first full pro season (18 HR, .332.) He skipped over AA completely, and opened 1980 in the International League. After abusing AAA pitchers for a few weeks he was in the majors by late May, and he would never ride a bus again. Alas, he was still just 20 years old. As it turned out he wasn't even close to being able to cope with major-league pitching. He put in three full seasons as a .230 hitter with no power. In 1983, Bobby Cox finally decided to start platooning him and he began the season sharing CF with Barry Bonnell. But that, of course, was the year it all came together for Moseby, who made what was simply an enormous leap forward. He would be a durable and productive player for the rest of the decade, although like his comrades in that glorious 1980s outfield his career would be shortened by injury. Playing 155 games a year in the outfield, half of them on the concrete at the old Ex... it chewed those guys up and broke them down, all of them.

Anyway, I think Moseby is Exhibit A for why you don't want to rush a young player. It's not just that he was a terrible player for three years, although heaven knows that's a good enough reason for me. It's that he was a terrible player for fully half the time you know he belongs to you. He was free agent eligible after the 1986 season, when he was still just 26 years old, in the heart of his prime (and about to have the best year of his career.) Did you enjoy watching him flail at major league pitching as a 21 year old? I sure hope so. You're damn lucky you didn't have to watch him punish major league pitching in somebody else's uniform as a reward for your impatience, or stupidity, or whatever the hell they were thinking. I can't imagine any team would do such a thing today... Now Evan Longoria stays in the minors for three weeks just so Tampa can squeeze an extra season out of him before he hits free agency.

Travis Snider
You know most of this, I imagine. It's striking to me how much Snider's first two years as a pro parallel Moseby's. Both had an excellent showing in rookie ball followed by an outstanding first pro season in A ball. Snider began his third pro season still in A ball, but was quite quickly bumped up to AA where he was putting together a very solid, if somewhat unspectacular season (.262, 17 HRs in 98 games). At which point, team management appears to have gotten tired of waiting for him. Or something, I have no idea. He was promoted to AAA at the beginning of August, and then to the majors by the end of August. He did just fine in his very brief stints at both levels, but I still don't understand what the big hurry was all about....† Anyway, we need to assign a Buzz Factor to Snider, and it needs to be quite high. In my view - and it's just my view - a fair bit of the hype about Snider was generated not by Snider's play, but by: a) the organization's need to toot its own horn, and b) the fan bases's desperate yearning for a savior. He's probably been as eagerly anticipated as Delgado was, which I think is unfair. I don't think anyone should expect him to be as good a major league hitter as Carlos Delgado. That's setting the bar awfully high. Nevertheless, his performance, especially at A ball, has been legitimately Buzz-worthy, on a major scale. Buzz Factor: 10

Alex Gonzalez
Gonzo the first was supposed to become a very good major league hitter. As you probably know, he didn't. Back in the day, Alan Trammel was the comp I always remember hearing, and Dave gave him a Buzz Factor of 8. Gonzalez didn't hit much at all in the rookie league or in his first pro season at A ball, but at age 20 he appeared to take a big step forward. His full year in AA looks quite a bit like Travis Snider's year in AA. The Jays would actually open the 1994 season with Gonzalez as the everyday shortstop, which was certainly jumping the gun a little bit. But he went down to AAA at the end of April and would put together a very impressive year in AAA at age 21. The raw numbers are nowhere near the same, but I think what Gonzalez did in AAA can certainly stand being compared to what Snider did at that level. Gonzalez did it for a full season, in a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league. He hit for average, he had some power, he stole lots of bases, he even drew walks. He would take over the shortstop job in Toronto in 1995, and hold it for the next seven years. And he never developed any further as a hitter. He developed a great deal defensively - Fernandez is the only Blue Jay to play the position better, and I'm not even completely convinced that Gonzalez wasn't a better shortstop. But as a hitter? Nothing - not even a teeny, tiny bit. He remained exactly what he was at age 22 through the rest of his career.

Well, that happens sometimes. Dave offered this:

One of the things I'd like to know about a prospect is how soon he matured. Early maturers can gain their adult height and weight as much as four years earlier than late bloomers. A-Gonzo looked pretty young when he came up, but I wonder whether he was already fully mature. This may explain why he looked good when he was young, but never got better.


John Olerud
Olerud is an outlier on this list - he is the only one of the players looked at here who came out of college rather than high school. And Olerud, famously, didn't play a single game in the minor leagues before joining the Jays (he would finally make his minor league debut at age 36, a three game tuneup for Pawtucket before his swan song with the 2005 Red Sox.) Was there a buzz about Johnny O? Indeed there was - he is one of the very few to whom Dave assigned a Buzz Factor of 10, saying:

Hailed as Superman brought to life when first signed: He can hit! He can pitch! He's recovered from a life-threatening ailment! He can fly if he wants to! What you may have forgotten: by 1991, the papers were calling for him to be sent down for seasoning in favour of Ed Sprague. If my memory serves me correctly, some writers of the time saw it as practically a moral issue, implying that Big John needed the sort of character-building experience that only crappy minor league ballparks can provide.

Through the point in his career we're considering, Olerud had come straight out of college and played one full season in the majors, serving as the LH half of a DH platoon. He was the best 21 year old hitter in Jays history - only Snider really approaches him and no one else is in the same ball park. (Delgado's two week run when he really was the second coming of Babe Ruth pushes his numbers into the same vicinity - but it was just two weeks...) Olerud was blocked, of course, from full-time duty at his natural position by someone who just happened to be one of the very best hitters in the major leagues at that time. It's obviously impossible to criticize the manager for that. But life can show you some strange things, I've noticed. Back in April of this year, the Blue Jays picked up an outfielder from the Giants. What was just about the first thing that struck me about Fred Lewis? This:

I'm scratching my head at how much Fred Lewis reminds me of Fred McGriff. Not their games, of course - just the way they look. At first I figured I was just imagining it because of the name. But Lewis' batting stance also reminds me a great deal of the young McGriff, and facially he also reminds me of McGriff (sans that little mustache that Big Fred favoured.)

Bauxite Chuck immediately offered that he'd noticed the same thing.

Well. I ask you? Who was the player blocking John Olerud from everyday duty in 1990? It was the man for whom Lewis is an eerie doppleganger, the Crime Dog himself - Fred McGriff. And who was the manager back in those days, when young Olerud was breaking into the lineup? Why, it was Cito Gaston, of course.

Spooky!

Although, to be strictly accurate (always irritating in these instances!) Gaston's handling of Snider is really not very much like how he handled Olerud, who played quite regularly as a 21 year old, albeit in a pretty strict platoon. Strangely, it's probably a little bit more like the way Bobby Cox broke in the next guy on the list...

Tony Fernandez
Oh Dave - tell us about the excitement (Buzz Factor 10!) surrounding the arrival of El Cabeza. Because Buzz there was:

Except for Delgado, Fernandez was possibly the most-heralded prospect in Blue Jays history. Skipped AA ball entirely, and was playing AAA ball at 18 (!!)

Yeah, that's how I remember it, too. We couldn't wait for him to get here. But wait we did. Fernandez played well in AAA as an 19 year old - but he was still a teenager, so naturally he stayed in Syracuse for another year. He had an even better season as a 20 year old, hitting .302, walking more often than he struck out. And still they made us wait! At age 21, he spent his third season in Syracuse - it was basically identical to the one before, except he continued to improve his K-W ratio and he finally - finally! - made his major league debut as a September call-up. He might have broken camp with the Jays in 1984 - but he broke his hand instead. So he started out in Syracuse, spent a few weeks tuning up, and came to the majors to stay in May 1984. Where he was used... most erratically indeed. Shortstop was occupied, by an established veteran (Alfredo Griffin.) Fernandez† would start just 53 games as a rookie. He would come in off the bench after Griffin was pinch hit for, he was used as a pinch hitter himself a few times, he pinch ran, he even found himself at third base on a few occasions. But he was too damn good to sit behind anyone, and by about August he was getting the majority of the starts at short. The Bill Caudill trade that winter was as much about clearing the decks for Fernandez and Barfield (by moving out Collins and Griffin) as it was about acquiring a relief ace.

Jesse Barfield
Barfield was not all that impressive as a minor league hitter. He didn't hit much in the rookie league (well, he was just 17) or in his first taste of A ball. He started to show some progress in his second full season as a pro, still in A ball, still a teenager. He spent his age 20 season at Knoxville (AA), hitting .240 with 14 HRs - he repeated the level at age 21, and improved just a little. Still, it was enough to get him a September call-up in 1981, and as it turned out his minor league days were over. He skipped AAA completely.

Well, it's not like there was anyone good standing in his way.

Dave gave him a Buzz Factor of 8, and noted:

A broad base of skills, including very high triples totals. Had high walk totals and strikeout totals, which suggests somebody who waited for his pitch, but didn't always hit it when he got it. This is exactly the player that Barfield became in the majors. One of the few players to become successful in The Show despite high strikeout totals in the minors.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows Barfield was platooned when he came to the majors - I'm not sure everyone realizes that he was platooned for three full seasons, batting more often against southpaws each season. Maybe it was because his playing time was being rationed but in those early days he was also the streakiest hitter I have ever seen - I can remember him hitting 7 HRs in a single week back in 1983. He also struck out far more often than anyone who had ever worn a Blue Jays uniform to that point. The Dave Collins trade finally cleared the way for him, at age 25, and he played brilliantly for two years. Then the injuries began to grind him down...

George Bell
Bell is one of two players on this list who actually began his professional career in another organization. Bell charged through the Western Carolinas League as a teenager, terrorizing pitchers left, right , and centre. But he lost most of his age 20 season (1980) to injury - he played just 22 games - and the Blue Jays were able to steal him in the Rule 5 draft when the Phillies tried to sneak him through the winter meetings without adding him to the 40 man roster. Oops. (Dave reports that the Phillies fired whoever was responsible for that misbegotten manoeuver.)† However, this meant Bell would lose most of the next year as well. Forced to stay on the major league roster as a Rule 5 guy, he mainly sat on the bench and watched during the strike year of 1981. He got into only 60 games, 42 as a starter. He was supposed to resume his interrupted development path in Syracuse at age 22 - but instead he got hurt again, and missed most of that season as well, playing just 37 games. So yes - from ages 20-22, George Bell played a grand total of 119 professional games. He got back on track at age 23 in AAA, and was summoned to the majors in July - he played off and on for the rest of the year (39 games over the second half of the season). In 1984, he was finally able to begin abusing major league pitching on a regular basis. Good times. And it occurs to me now that this is like an accelerated version of the Jose Bautista saga, who also lost a year as a Rule 5 guy and had two other years messed up by injury. Bell just got all that crap out of the way at once, over three consecutive years.

Carlos Delgado
We all remember this guy. We may not remember how it all began. Oh Dave:

Without question, the most highly-touted prospect in Jays history, as he started appearing on radar screens in 1991 after pounding 18 home runs at Myrtle Beach. When he dismantled Florida State League pitching in 1992, batting .324 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI, people were starting to name their children after him. He won the Baseball Weekly Minor League Player of the Year award that year, and was the first player in eight years to reach the 100 RBI plateau in the FSL.

Delgado tore apart AA at age 21 in 1993, and by gum, we were getting excited. But here's the thing - he was a catcher. He wasn't a particularly polished one, although he was willing enough and worked at it dutifully. And the Jays had a World Series MVP, no less, behind the plate. Delgado was supposed to spend 1994 in AAA - he was still a few months shy of just 22 years old - further refining his defensive skills. However, a couple of things happened. One, the team noticed that they had no left-fielder, and two: Delgado simply pulverized everything thrown at him in Florida that spring. And in late March, the team decided - what the hell - I wonder how the kid would look in left field?

Pretty bad, but no one cared. Not at first, anyway, because Delgado hit 8 - eight! -.home runs in his first 13 games, some of them just monstrous, awe-inspiring shots. Has anyone ever announced their presence with more authority? Not that I can think of. AL pitchers certainly noticed, however, and seemed to make a collective decision to never, never, never throw this kid a fastball anywhere near the plate. Drastic measures indeed, but they had the desired effect. Delgado began to scuffle seriously at the plate (he hit .183 over the next 30 games, with just 1 HR) while every day providing new evidence that he was not born to be an outfielder.† In June, the team went back to Plan A - Delgado went down to Syracuse and beat the crap out of AAA pitching while working on his catching skills for the rest of the season.

And that - finally - was the end of his catching career, which was something I had been suggesting should happen since 1992 (yes, I was around and I was hanging out at the Dome back in those days!). It's one thing to play an outstanding hitting prospect behind the plate if he's also an outstanding catching prospect, like Joe Mauer. But that wasn't Delgado - he was willing, he worked hard, he just wasn't that good. He spent much of 1995 in Syracuse, learning how to play first base. He was up in Toronto briefly in May, for no apparent reason - with Olerud at first and Molitor at DH, there was nothing for him to do except pinch hit. He came back up in September, and spent most of his time playing left field, there being nowhere else to put him. But Molitor left as a free agent that winter and the path was finally - finally - clear.

Shawn Green

There was a great deal of buzz about Green when he was coming back - like Snider, he was a left hitting and throwing outfielder drafted out of high school in the middle of the first round. Unlike Snider, Green didn't do much to impress anybody in his first two years as a pro, one at high A ball and one at AA. He hit for OK averages (.273 and .283) but with no power at all. This didn't seem to discourage anyone - the Jays even gave him a September callup after his AA season. As Dave noted:

Highly touted, even when his minor-league numbers weren't good; many many people said that Green reminded them of a young Ted Williams... He sure didn't look like a power hitter when he was younger, as he was, basically, scrawny.

Well. Every tall, skinny LH prospect with a pretty swing is going to remind someone of Ted Williams. It's just one of those things. As for Green, he moved up to Syracuse in his third pro season, now 21 years old - and just exploded on the league, hitting .344 and beginning to add some pop as well. The Jays even summoned him to the majors for a month in mid-season, but after going 3 for 33 he went back to AAA to finish the season. It was the end of his minor league career, however, and he began the 1995 season as the Jays LH part of a platoon in right field.

There are two widely held beliefs about Shawn Green that are so deeply instilled in Jays lore that it seems almost pointless to even try to deal with them. One of them, discussed here many times, is Gaston's alleged refusal to let him play every day, which is sort of half true - Gaston tried to make an everyday player of Green in his sophomore season, but by mid-June, with the kid struggling badly, they went back to the platoon arrangement he'd worked under as a rookie. We've been over that one many times. The other legend, however, is that Green had the big breakout year everyone had been waiting for when Tim Johnson took over in 1998 and played him every day. That's not quite true - Green did hit 35 HRs and drive in 100 runs in 1998, obliterating his previous career highs. The counting numbers were entirely the result of the additional ABs - his overall production, however, was almost exactly the same as in his rookie season of 1995. As a rookie, Green hit .288/.326/.509; in his "breakout`season he hit .278/.334/.510. In one of those years he had an OPS+ of 115 and in the other he had an OPS+ of 116. His real step forward came in 1999, his last year as a Blue Jay, when he slugged .588 and hit .300 for the only time in his career.

Vernon Wells
Dave gave Vernon a Buzz Factor of 9, noting that:

Only Stieb and Moseby shot through the minors faster than V-Dub.† There were doubts about him after he struggled in Syracuse in 2000 and 2001, but players asked to wait their turn often slump a bit.


It may not seem that way in this context - compared to Moseby and Snider, the Jays took their sweet time with Vernon Wells - but that's an accident of this particular context. You must remember that most guys don't get to play in the majors at all when they're 22 years old - Wells is one of the few who did. The Jays were set in the outfield during those years, with Stewart, Cruz, and Green-Mondesi. Wells was called up and sent down three times before making it to stay (fourth time's the charm.) He dashed through the lower levels of the minors, but then spent two full years in Syracuse in AAA. This was partially because of the logjam in the major league outfield, and partially because his AAA season seemed so disappointing. It was indeed disappointing at the time - Wells hit just .243 in his first full year at AAA. The year before, at age 20, he had stormed through three levels, hitting .343 at Dunedin, .340 at Knoxville, and .310 at Syracuse. He probably just needed some time to consolidate those gains. It's also pretty clear at this point that he hit in a fair bit bad luck at Syracuse in 2001, but I don't recall too many people checking batting average on balls in play for minor leaguers in those days.

Fred McGriff
It is my opinion that Fred McGriff is the greatest hitter produced by the Jays' system. Two quick qualifiers are required immediately. Like George Bell, McGriff actually started out in another organization. But he was still a teenager when the Jays stole him from the Yankees in what must be regarded as one of the most ridiculously one-sided trades in the history of the game. And it's certainly true that Carlos Delgado is the greatest hitter in Blue Jays history (McGriff's time as a Jay accounts for less than a quarter of his career.) Delgado's career OPS+ is also slightly better than McGriff's, but I believe McGriff's has been depressed slightly by being placed in the context of the monstrous offensive numbers posted by some suspiciously mutated bodies during the second half of McGriff's career. For example - for most of his career, McGriff was quite clearly a better player than Mark McGwire, a player the same age and active at the same time. In fact, there's really no room for debate on the subject. McGwire, however, has that five year burst from age 31 to 35 during which he hit 284 homers (almost half of his career total) while McGriff was belting a mere 128. We are learning to discount these things, are we not?

McGriff came along more slowly than any of the other players on this list - when he was Snider's age, he'd had just 5 major league plate appearances. I myself was at the old Ex for the first one - he started at DH, singled and scored in the second inning, his first major league at bat and was replaced by a pinch hitter (Cliff Johnson) next time through the order. As noted, he started out in the Yankees' system - he was just 17 when he made his pro debut in rookie ball. He struggled, as you might expect, but he did better as an 18 year old (.272 with 9 HRs and 48 BB in 62 games.) This was when the Jays acquired him. They started him out in the South Atlantic League, where he raked for a few weeks and got moved up to Kinston. He kept hitting homers, but he struck out an awful lot and hit just .243. He did much the same thing the next year - his season was split between two teams (Knoxville in AA, Syracuse at AAA) - he hit home runs and drew walks, but he struck out a lot and had trouble hitting for a decent average. And then he got hurt - he played just 51 games in 1985, still at AAA, and hit just .227. He finally got in a full year at AAA (minus his one week cup of coffee in the show) in 1986 - and it still didn't look that impressive (.259, 19 HR, 83 BB). Syracuse was a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league - but still. There had been a Buzz, of long standing, about this kid. Dave put the Buzz Factor at 8, and noted:

Never put up a monster season in any particular league, as he either switched levels mid-season or got hurt. Hit 28 home runs in 1983 and 22 home runs in 1984, so everybody could see him coming. Injuries delayed his development a year or two. Was seemingly born with good plate discipline: his walk totals were good all the way through his minor-league career. Never hit for a high average in the high minors, probably because he was young for his level.

All this time, of course, he was "blocked" at the major league level by Willie Upshaw, who was still manning first base for the Jays when McGriff came up to stay in 1987, as part of a DH platoon with Cecil Fielder. McGriff hit more homers, drew more walks, and scored almost as many runs in 107 games as Upshaw did in 150 - well, he was Fred Freakin' McGriff, after all† - so they moved Upshaw out of his way the following spring and handed over the first base job.

In Conclusion: Travis Snider and the Future


Fred McGriff, quite obviously, grew as a hitter and he grew to a remarkable extent. Not everybody does (Alex Gonzalez, hello!) McGriff played 538 games in the minors - his career BAVG in the minors was .249 - at only one stop along the way (33 games in the SAL) did he hit better than .272. As a major leaguer of course, McGriff hit .284 lifetime, over 19 seasons and 2460 games. As a minor leaguer he struck out in almost 30 percent of his at bats; as† a major leaguer, he fanned just 21% of the time.

To be a great offensive player in the majors, Travis Snider will have to do the exact same thing that McGriff did. And I'm afraid that seems a little unlikely to me.

The strikeouts are the thing. I don't mind guys who strike out 150 times a year. On the contrary - I think every team needs one or two of these guys. It's nice to have some hitters who never make two outs at a time.

What worries me about Snider is the possibility that he'll strike out 200 times a year, or more. There comes a point when the strikeouts just swallow up your game. Your batting average on the balls in play, however good (and Snider's was quite good in the minors) just can't make up for that many balls that never get put in play. And as a minor leaguer, Snider struck out about as often as McGriff - which is an awful lot. It's much more often than Carlos Delgado or Adam Dunn,† who both struck out around 21-22% of the time as minor leaguers.

As major leaguers, McGriff, Dunn, and Delgado went in three different directions. So which way you going, young Travis?

As noted, McGriff struck out much, much less often in the majors, cutting his Ks from 29% all the way to 21%.

Delgado stayed more or less about the same (his K rate actually went up slightly in the majors, from about 22% to 24%).

Dunn at age 30 is basically the exact same hitter now that he was at age 20 - which means while he struck out just 22% of the time as a minor leaguer, in the majors his K rate has shot through the roof, up to 32% of his at bats. Major league pitching will do that to you, if everything else stays the same. Dunn's been able to get away with it because he was also starting out with outstanding plate discipline and enormous raw power.

In this context, Snider is starting out closest to McGriff. What that means is that if he follows Dunn's path, if his K rate increases dramatically in the majors... well, he'll be in a mess of trouble. The fact that he won't have Dunn's enormous walk totals only makes things worse. He'll be a LH version of Rob Deer, or someone like that. Happily, there are already pretty strong indications that this will not be his destiny. (So relax, everybody. Breathe regular!)

Carlos Delgado is the middle way, and for that reason Delgado's degree of development as a hitter seems by far the most reasonable to expect.† If Snider proceeds along Delgado's path, if his strikeouts increase a little in the majors - well, he's a really good player. He's a dangerous major league hitter. He's Adam Dunn lite - Adam Dunn without all those bases on balls. (Snider's plate discipline is pretty good, but this is a very tough group - McGriff, Delgado, and Dunn had outstanding plate discipline. And they appear to have had it from the moment they first picked up a bat.) I don't quite expect Snider to have Dunn's kind of power either -† I just don't see him pounding 40 HRs† year after year, but 30 will do just fine, no?

Developing the way Fred McGriff developed - cutting his minor league K rate dramatically as a major leaguer - is obviously Snider's best case scenario. If Snider can do what McGriff did... well, Cooperstown is where that road leads. It's not particularly likely, of course, and in fact Delgado's path is indeed the one Snider is following so far. He's striking out a little bit more against major leaguers than he did against minor leaguers, just as Delgado did.

And that's OK. I think most teams can use a guy who hits .250-.260 with 70 BB and 30-35 homers. Because that's my best guess as to what we should expect.

How sure am I?

Well, I was pretty sure that Phil Plantier was going to hit 400 home runs in the major leagues. I don't know if I've been sure of anything since....
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Moe - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 06:30 AM EDT (#221683) #
Very nice work!

As for  "the kid has been rushed through the system for no readily apparent reason" I tend to agree with that. Although there was a reason (give fans something to talk about), just not a very good one. However, even if he had spent all of 2009 in AA (with Sept call-up or AFL) and started 2009 in AAA, he would be up by now (called up at one point in 2009, most likely). So you'd still have to deal with the question whether Cito should play him every day in 2010. Maybe he would be more developed now and Cito would be less hesitent do just that but maybe we'd still have the same discussion so the two opinions you start off with are not really exclusive -- keep him down longer (08 and 09) and play him everyday once he is up.

Looking at it in retrospect, picking up Lewis which in isolation was a great move, might have really hindered Snider's development. The club was better with Lewis until Snider was back from the DL but since then, I almost wish he'd be gone.
 

katman - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 07:48 AM EDT (#221684) #

Funny you should mention Fred Lewis and McGriff:

"TORONTO -- Jays manager Cito Gaston feels that there is untapped power potential in outfielder Fred Lewis. It is just a matter of Lewis heeding the advice of hitting coach Dwayne Murphy, who has been encouraging him to get the bat "out front" since "he can still hit the ball back here." If Lewis can get his bat out front, Gaston feels the home runs will come for Lewis, because, the skipper said, "He's got more raw power than anyone on this team."

AWeb - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 08:37 AM EDT (#221685) #
On Fred Lewis - it's great that major league coaches don't think players are done developing at the age of 27-28, as seems to be the baseline assumption for many analyses. Sure, most players won't get any better or make major changes to their game, but the ones that do improve later in their careers can be very, very valuable. First, improvement from an already major-league acceptable level is obviously huge. Second, other teams will be slow to believe in the change, making the late bloomer cheaper if you want to resign them. Fred Lewis would seem to make for a great 3rd/4th outfielder, if the Jays hold on to him. Is he signed for next year?

Also - Fred Lewis has more raw power than anyone on the team? Considering the team (Wells, Bautista, Snider, Lind), that's a pretty strong statement. Although you could parse it more literally and get away with it - maybe Lewis's power is 60% raw, 40% realized...sure, total power isn't going to be more than some, but his raw power is way up there.

Great article, by the way. Snider seems to be doing just fine by my eyes as well. Sure, it would be great if he was a star everyday player, but he's not a star player, at least not yet.
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 09:16 AM EDT (#221688) #
Travis Snider has now had one complete full season, and over that season he has been a league average hitter.  I agree that the timing of his ups and downs has not been optimal, but that is water under the bridge.  Having made the decision to call him up when they did, and with the service time clock running and with him turning 23 in February, the Jays really have little choice but to play him. 

As for the suggestion that Fred Lewis has more power than anyone on the club, I am afraid that I will file that one under "hyberbolic justifications for playing time decisions".  I like Cito, but sometimes you just can't take what he says at face value.

John Northey - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#221691) #
I recall on the weekly Jays show in the 80's an interview with a 16 year old Delgado who just signed and the buzz factor was already sky-high. The next year I saw a baseball card set with him in it (low A ball) - turns out that set also had the first card of Jeff Kent. Just imagine, a short season A ball team that had (possibly) two future HOF'ers. Sweet.
Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#221696) #
I would agree with Mike here. Now that he's up there is no turning back the clock. He needs to be played. All his rate stats have taken an improvement this year, including the K rate. (which has dropped 4-5%). I think that will continue to drop, but who knows he might keep on with Reynolds type numbers. I'm also not sure what the point is in drawing parallels with players who came up through the minors 20 years ago. The game and player development is vastly different now then it was then.
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#221698) #
The game and player development is vastly different now then it was then.

In what way?
bpoz - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:24 AM EDT (#221699) #
Thank you for a very enjoyable reading experience. I remember all those players and have been a Blue Jay fan from the beginning. So this was a nice trip down memory lane.
Sil Campusano was the player I feel was most overhyped.

I agree Gillick did not do well with some of those 1st round picks eg: Garry Harris, Augie Schmidt.But he sure scored on those Rule 5 picks and latin players.
Matthew E - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#221702) #
I remember Bill James's comment about Delgado after Delgado hit 31 homers in the FSL ("the equivalent of 108 [home runs] at High Desert"). "I have no doubt that Delgado is going to be an MVP candidate by 2000."
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#221703) #
It should be noted that Cal McLish, or more formally Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, passed away recently. After his playing career ended, he was a pitching coach with three teams including the Expos from 1969 to 1975.  For those of us of a certain age, his name will be forever associated with the voices of Dave Van Horne, Don Drysdale and Duke Snider. 
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#221704) #
Actually, what James said, Matthew, is that "I have no doubt that Delgado will be an MVP candidate in the year 2000".  Which was particularly impressive, as 2000 was indeed the year that Delgado was exactly that.  Fortunately, Bill James has not prophesied the end of the world in 2112...
Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#221705) #
Different ways of developing players. The rise of year round camps, having far more development time for players coming at a younger age then ever. The use of technology to aid in developing young players. For example:

Mike Walton, veteran assistant coach with Spring-Ford and Spring City American Legion, runs his Diamond Dreams Baseball with a focus on technology, along with his wife, Wendy, and son, Jonathon Walton. Located in Limerick for the past five years, Diamond Dreams is currently relocating at Kestrel Drive in Collegeville.

The address might change, but not the Waltons approach to teaching the young.

"It's going to sound a little funny, but we base our instruction on a scientific data," Walton said. "We're using all the modern computer videos and all the research from the motion labs to bring the most up-to-date instruction we can get. I'm not teaching them what we were taught, thank God.

"They can now tell us exactly what we should be doing and the motion labs can break everything down. We now know exactly what to teach, where before we were just kind of guessing and going by what was popular at the time. We are taught by guys that study human movement, know about movement, the human body.

"We've done a lot of work with Dr. Tom House, a world-renowned pitching coach in California. He runs the National Pitching Association. We've been certified through them and go to classes through them."

House has worked with the likes of Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Mark Prior and Kevin Brown.

"I've coached for 17 years and it really has changed in the last four to five years, where the science has come in and proved a lot of the stuff that we used to teach was incorrect. They brought us up to date, can tell us exactly what we're doing, if we're doing it right or not."


I think young players are in a much better position to succeed then they ever were. Many of these players by the time they're 20 have been playing full time for 10+ years already, and in some cases more. And all the way being professionally instructed, all with the goal of maximizing their major league potential. Which is part of why I don't really care about the comparison of Moseby to Snider. It's too many years apart to draw conclusions imo.

There is also the use of metrics to rate players instead of just looking at the average and other old time stats. There can be players with pretty similar avg/rbis/etc stats but peripheral stats can tell if one player is just being unlucky or not. Which is why I'm pretty happy with Snider this year. Although his OPS+ is only average, his peripherals are all very strong and show him to be improving in all aspects of his offensive game. His ISO is up, his K's are down, his LD rate is good, sure his walks are down slightly but not by much. It's just the poor luck on BABIP. He's hitting balls hard right at people.
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#221719) #
I don't really see how modern ways of developing players would give Snider an advantage unless he was the only one with access to these methods....

I understand why it would appear that I'm comparing Snider's development path to Moseby's and Barfield's and so on. That's not really my purpose - I just thought it would be fun, and possibly even enlightening, to look at all the Jays' hitting prospects. It's still a big deal and a big process, becoming a bonafide major leaguer. Always was, always will be.

I was directly comparing Snider to Dunn, Delgado, and McGriff. I don't think those guys are too ancient to be relevant. Two of them are active right now. And it's the oldest of that trio who actually made the most impressive development steps. If modern methods of developing talent are better today than they were when McGriff started, it shouldn't be that hard for Snider to do what McGriff did. Unless it wasn't the methods so much as it was the player...

Are teams really bringing players to the majors at a younger age now? I'm not so sure. I think many teams are being more cautious than ever. Not so much on baseball grounds, but because everyone's acutely aware of the six year window when a player is under your control. No one wants to waste that time while player struggles. Would anybody do today what the Jays' did with Lloyd Moseby? Can we all agree that Moseby was rushed to the majors for no good reason?
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#221720) #
It's really hard, Magpie.  Moseby was rushed, but teams will often do this with players who appear to have all the skills and have succeeded wherever they have played.  That was the case with Moseby.  A similar current player would be Miguel Cabrera, who had a lesser season than Moseby's at age 19 in the FSL, tore up double A for 2 months at age 20 and was called up to the Show to lead the Marlins to a World Series championship and hasn't looked back since.  The Cardinals gave Albert Pujols a job directly out of the Midwest League.  The common thread is the combination of power and strike zone control.  In retrospect, it does not appear that Moseby had either element down but that is, in part, 20-20 hindsight.

The Jays probably should have given Moseby at least another month in triple A to see if he could sustain the level of performance he had displayed.  If a player is ready at age 20, the payoff is tremendous. 

Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#221721) #
I definitely appreciated the post, but more for the stories about our old time greats then for what it says about Snider.

I think pitchers are being brought up slower then ever, with all the info and nervousness people have about arm injuries and such. Managing inning counts is a big part of today's pitching game. But I wouldn't be surprised if hitters are making it to the majors earlier then ever. Imo I think players make it to the majors when they show they've mastered the minors. I think looking at Snider's stats there it shows he had little left to learn there, although there is an issue with the farm system the Jays have.

The difficulty with Snider is that there is little for him to do in this organization but to play in the majors. I'm coming to view Vegas as a detrimental place for our hitters to hit there as well as the pitchers. It's possible that Snider's 1.1 OPS there wasn't really much use in helping him at all. But where else would you put him? Leave him at AA for 2-3 years? That might have worked I guess. But they brought him up and it's too late to stick him back there now. I don't know if it was wrong to do that with Moseby. And certainly teams still do that, bringing up players when they are young and have demolished the minors. Look at Mike Stanton now down in Florida, he's hitting home runs, but his average is awful and he's striking out nearly 40% of the time.

Snider's stats clearly show him to be improving, and he is already league average. Maybe the point should be that some batters never learn to hit in the minors, and actually need significant major league at bats to learn the trade. I think I object to the idea that just leaving Snider there in the minors would have made him better. Some players are just AAAA hitters and never carry over to the majors, despite dominating the minors. If Moseby had been left down in the minors for 2-3 more years, would he have avoided those struggles he had before his breakout season, or would he still have had to struggle before he got things and turned it around?
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#221722) #
Another factor with Moseby is that, as bad as he was, there really was no one better at the major league level. Which tells you how awful that team was. But you still had that six-year window in effect. You probably remember that we all spent the first half of the 1980s simply assuming that Stieb would walk away as a free agent first chance he got. Which was one of the reasons no one cared about him throwing 288 innings in a season...

Perhaps one thing we can come away with from this odd little survey is this - better prospects than Travis Snider have been blocked from everyday playing time by worse players than Fred Lewis. Doesn't make it the optimum course of action, then or now.

As I've said before, I think Snider is a decent major leaguer right now, and should be playing. I would also agree that he's been hitting in a lot of bad luck this year. That doesn't do him or his team any good whatsoever this year. No one should ever, ever forget that this is a results oriented business. But his results could quite easily be better than they are.

Isn't there a weird disconnect with these simultaneous cries of "Hey we're rebuilding" and "Play the kids." If you play the kids while you're rebuilding, by the time you're ready to start winning, they'll be ready to fly the coop. If you're really rebuilding with kids, what you do is you buy time for the kids with short-term stopgaps. You bring in John Buck, rather burn up Arencibia's service time while both he and the team are scuffling.

I'm just sayin'!
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:43 PM EDT (#221724) #
I agree absolutely about Las Vegas - it's such a weird place to play that it's difficult to assess your own talent. And it's so easy to hit there, that I think it's hard for hitters to make any genuine progress. The game is practically being handed to them (well, as much as it ever is...)

We certainly don't see teenagers in the starting rotation anymore. No more Bob Fellers, no more Dwight Goodens. (Well, I guess Felix Hernandez slipped through) In modern baseball, there's so much terror about breaking a young pitcher that they're all being handled as if they're made of glass. I don't see that this is helping all that much, but it does seem to ease everyone's conscience.

But I don't think we're seeing more really young players in the lineup either. The last teenager I remember playing regularly in the majors was Robin Yount, and that was a long time ago. (Anyone else, anyone?) Even A-Rod didn't take over regularly until he was 20.

I do believe this has more to do with managing a player's service time than baseball-readiness. Obviously, no one now would bring up a 19 or 20 year old to the majors just to sit on the bench. This used to be an extremely common practise - partially because of the bonus baby rules, and partially because some organizations honestly believed players would learn more from watching at the major league level than from playing in the bushes.
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#221725) #
The ideal is Pujols.  You make the commitment early to the player once you have adjudged that he is for real. Snider is not likely to be anywhere near as good as Pujols (who is?), but I would have no difficulty if the organization signed him up.  What I find most impressive about him is the obvious effort he has put in to his physique.  He runs quite well, and I see little risk that he'll need to move to DH in his 20s.  My concern with the Lind signing was the fact that he was seemingly groomed to be a DH, but also seemed to hit better when he was in the field (as many do).  I don't feel the same way about Snider. 
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#221726) #
Edgar Renteria got a couple of months in at the big league level before he turned 20, and Ken Griffey Jr. had a full season.
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#221729) #
A-Rod himself got what we'll call "the Renteria treatment." Which sounds intriguing, when you put it that way.

Geez, how could I forget Griffey? A mind is a terrible thing to lose....
Matthew E - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#221730) #
better prospects than Travis Snider have been blocked from everyday playing time by worse players than Fred Lewis

In my mind, that's not really what's happening. Kind of. The Jays brought Lewis in, more or less, to be a platoon partner for Bautista, right? Or that's how I always thought about it. So it's more Bautista's monster season that's getting in Snider's way than Lewis. I mean, I want Snider to play too, but Lewis is too good to sit on the bench the whole time.
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#221732) #
Geez, how could I forget Griffey? A mind is a terrible thing to lose....

You and me both.  Hopefully the younger folk will be gentle with us, if we agree to do the same. 

Incidentally, Griffey would have to be the #1hyped prospect of the last 30 years.  Superstar was the word from the get-go, unrealistic as that might have been. 
China fan - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#221733) #
....As for the suggestion that Fred Lewis has more power than anyone on the club, I am afraid that I will file that one under "hyberbolic justifications for playing time decisions"....

Even if there's some hyperbole in the Cito quote, I don't think it should be entirely dismissed, because it gives us further insight into the superficially-perplexing question of why the Jays are still giving a lot of playing time to Lewis, even after Snider's return to the lineup.  In other threads, I've looked at this from the Snider angle, arguing that the Jays aren't necessarily wrong to be sitting Snider occasionally at his age and at his stage of development.  But the Lewis side of the story can't be ignored either.  The Jays have a history of overhauling the rejects of other teams and turning them into excellent players.  Bautista is the obvious example, but not the only one.  Look at the improvement of John Buck this year, or look at the relievers (Downs, Camp etc) who were turned into first-rate pitchers.  If the Jays genuinely think they have spotted something fixable in Fred Lewis and if they think he has the potential to improve, I think we might want to be a little more patient, just in case the Jays are right.  Jose Bautista would probably agree.
Alex Obal - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#221735) #
This was incredibly useful and somewhat enlightening in millions of little ways, Magpie. Thanks.

In 1983, Bobby Cox finally decided to start platooning him and he began the season sharing CF with Barry Bonnell. But that, of course, was the year it all came together for Moseby

Does this remind anyone else of Alex Rios? As a hitter, he looked like a lost cause when he was platooned with Eric Hinske in 2006... for all of eight days. Wonder how often that happens - put the guy in positions where he's likely to succeed, watch the light go on. It seems commonplace.
Jonny German - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#221736) #
The Jays brought Lewis in, more or less, to be a platoon partner for Bautista, right?
 
That's exactly why I loved the Lewis acquisition at the time, I thought he was an ideal platoon mate for Bautista. Turns out the one is much better at hitting than previously thought, and the other doesn't defend as well as expected.
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#221737) #
Lewis is simply an average player (at best) at this point.  He plays left-field, and not very well.  He has some power and some speed, and will take a few walks.  His history is nothing like that of Buck and Bautista.  He has at no stage of his major or minor league career shown power of the type that they did at various minor league levels.  I have a world of respect for Gaston the hitting coach, and do not doubt that he could help Lewis hit for some more power in his 30s than he did in his 20s.  At the same time though, his already meager defensive assets are likely to decline further.  And Gaston is unlikely to be providing batting advice in 2011. 

DaveB - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#221738) #
Great job, Magpie. It's very useful to review the history of other highly-touted young stars. Certainly it adds some perspective to the overly-magnified "struggles" that Snider is experiencing. For the most part it puts his performance to date in the context of a decent start to his ML career. He's not flourishing but he's hardly floundering, either. Of course he has to improve to be the star foundation that everyone wants him to be, but considering his pedigree and his youth  there's reason to believe he will improve with experience. I don't see why that experience shouldn't continue as the everyday LF for the remainder of the season.

I respectfully disagree with the idea that Snider was rushed to the Majors "for no apparent reason". He had compiled about 1,300 PAs at the time of his 08 promotion, which is on the low side but not unreasonable for consistently highly rated prospects who put up good to very good numbers. Michael Stanton and Jay Bruce had 100-200 more PAs; BJ Upton, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and of course college draftees like Troy Tulowitzki, Gordon Beckham and Buster Posey among others had less, some of them much less. He'd had no injuries slowing his development for those three minor league seasons. There was no established player blocking his path. If a team projects a young player to compete for a Major League starting position, then it makes sense to give him a head-start. That certainly seemed to be the case with Snider. Not only did he do well in September 08, he carried it over to Spring Training, won on merit the job as a platoon LF, and had a great start to the 09 season. At that point there was nothing to suggest he wasn't ready. However, the Jays weren't ready to live with his first slump and sent him down after about three weeks of poor performance. That to me was an over-reaction to  the inevitable and contributed to magnifying everything he has done since. There is still this sense that he is kind of on job probation rather than having earned the same consideration that a veteran would get. It happened again this year with the wrist injury. There is no way a veteran hitter, especially one who had been hot at the time of his injury, would be kept in the minors for three weeks (and not even in the highest minors) after proving he was healthy again.

Anyway, that is all pretty much water under the bridge and should have little effect on Snider going forward. It's entirely up to him how good a player he becomes. Whether he plays everyday until the end of the season or 4-5 days a week won't make much difference in terms of the rest of his career, but if the idea is to make sure the rest of his career is in Toronto, there's nothing wrong with giving him some positive vibes over the last month. I think he has received mixed messages so far from both the  manager and the organization, and that could affect how much he wants to stay here.

Kasi said: " I'm also not sure what the point is in drawing parallels with players who came up through the minors 20 years ago. The game and player development is vastly different now then it was then ... Different ways of developing players. The rise of year round camps, having far more development time for players coming at a younger age then ever. The use of technology to aid in developing young players.

Kasi, I respect your sabremetric knowledge and agree with most of your points about Snider, but this is just the egotism of the current era being expressed here. The exact same thing could have been (and was) said 20, 40 years ago, and it will be said again 20 and 40 years from now. I do agree that our current knowledge allows us to pinpoint some aspects of Snider's performance that have made him "unlucky"; forty years ago you can be sure that respected baseball men were saying exactly the same thing ("unlucky") about a young kid's line drives not falling in for hits. Teenagers are indeed getting better training but they are trying to break into a profession which is similarly reaping the benefits of better training and greater knowledge. There are young prodigies throughout baseball's history and they were just as well equipped physically to deal with the Majors of their era as the Sniders are of this one. When you consider the money and celebrity culture of these modern times, you could argue that in some ways it's more difficult now than ever.

Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#221739) #
Griffey would have to be the #1hyped prospect of the last 30 years.

No doubt - partially because he was indeed a great prospect, and partially because of the story. He was going to play on the same team as his dad! It was baseball's version of the Gordie and Mark Howe saga...

At the risk of starting a totally pointless argument... the Howes were better than the Griffeys.
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#221740) #
My main complaint about Snider being rushed has probably always had more to do with starting the service clock than anything... But even so -he spent most of 2008 in AA, and while he certainly did OK, does what he did there really scream "Send this guy to the majors right now?"
jerjapan - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#221741) #
You probably remember that we all spent the first half of the 1980s simply assuming that Stieb would walk away as a free agent first chance he got. Which was one of the reasons no one cared about him throwing 288 innings in a season...

Magpie, just out of curiousity, when did people start getting worried about pitch counts and inning totals?  I was a kid in the 80s and don't really recall being aware of the problem - but looking back at Stieb's numbers, it's no wonder he burnt out (relatively) early 

Great hearing him on the TV / radio yesterday.  My friend scored me a bobblehead - Stieb's always been my fave Jay, and he sounds just as fiery as ever. 
Mike Green - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#221742) #
Nope.  The K rate in 2008 screamed, "wait a little while longer".  However, he did truly mash in Las Vegas last year (even when you let the air out), and that was the point at which all the signals pointed forwards.
Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:12 PM EDT (#221743) #
I would agree with Mike on Lewis. Even if Lewis was shown to be a guy who could turn it around with the bat and hit 20-25 home runs, his defensive limitations severely curtail any value he has to the team. Snider might not be a good OF, but Lewis is well below him.
Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#221744) #
Dave I didn't mean to say that the current era is better. More that the current era is different. Different ways of evaluating players, different ways of developing. I agree with you that it is probably harder, because back then a superbly gifted athlete stood out. But now I'm not so sure. The game is just so technical now a days. Training to me right now means more then talent. What it does do though is making comparing how players progressed through to their major league careers difficult to do, because the environment has changed so much. You see this in football too. Compare the NFL 20 years ago to how it is now. Who gets drafted and who makes it is just so different.
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#221745) #
I think people started to worry about pitch counts once there were people like me in the press box keeping track - once they started appearing the newspaper every day. When Nolan Ryan threw 200 pitches in a game, nobody cared because knew about it.

Kasi, I have a question - well, I have two of them. First, should I be saying "Casey" in my mind?

Second, I absolutely agree that improvements in conditioning, training methods, nutrition would give someone like Snider an enormous advantage if he were magically transported to 1980 and forced to compete against Lloyd Moseby. But isn't he competing against guys with the same advantages? Likewise, if you transported Bob Feller (glad you're doing better, Robert!) from the Cleveland mound in 1940 to the pitcher's mound today, he'd be shocked and alarmed at the size of the damn hitters. But if he'd come up today, he'd most likely be bigger and stronger himself. The conditions are different in every era - but the field itself is level at any given moment in time.

Well, it's supposed to be anyway!
Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#221747) #
By the way, I've just noticed that I completely overlooked at least three young Jays who got to spend time in the majors when they were even younger than Snider. But I'm assuming no one cares all that much about Willie Canate, Lou Thornton, and Manuel Lee.

Pat Gillick and his Rule 5 guys. Yes, he absolutely stole some great talent early on - but it did become kind of a fetish with him, didn't it? I've always wondered if one of the reasons Bobby Cox leaped at the Atlanta job was because he was tired of taking a 23 man roster to the knife fight that is (and always has been) the AL East...
ayjackson - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#221748) #
Great conversation and I hate to interject, but Overbay's still sick.  Any chance "sick" means claimed on waivers and we have to do some due diligence while a trade's being worked out?
Kasi - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 06:29 PM EDT (#221749) #
Kasi is pronounced like kah - see. Thanks for asking.

I agree that yeah the field is level at any given time. Could you imagine someone like Babe Ruth with modern conditioning? The guy would have been insane. (not that he wasn't already) Or if they could have repaired Koufax's arm? I think the point I was trying to make was that it is hard to compare Moseby and Snider because of how development differed in their eras. I think Moseby today would be akin to a guy like Crawford or Dom Brown. Someone considered to be a top 2-3 prospect with insane projections because of his athleticism. I'd be surprised if 5'10", fairly slow Snider would even be much of a player back then without the modern conditioning and development he's received.

I do think how the two would be physically developed would change from 25 years ago to now. Moseby today wouldn't be rushed, because he would be one of those top 5 tool players with insane potential that no one wants to ruin. But for someone like Snider (or Wallace or other college bats) they're considered to be ready really early on and are usually sent to the show pretty soon. I also think how well Lloyd or Travis (or any other player) hit in the majors has as much to do with their mental makeup as their physical. And while I think mental development of players has come a long ways, a lot of it is just internal to the players and can't be taught or learned. Maybe Snider could have been managed better. But there is no other place to put him and he needs as much at bats as he can now, especially when the alternative is Lewis.
DaveB - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 06:40 PM EDT (#221750) #
But even so -he spent most of 2008 in AA, and while he certainly did OK, does what he did there really scream "Send this guy to the majors right now?"

You're right Magpie, his overall 2008 numbers didn't scream "Send me to the Majors right now". The AA numbers were good, not great. Eric Thames is having a much better season there this year than Snider did. But that "let's slow down a bit and look at the big picture" attitude wasn't in place then or he would never even have been promoted to Syracuse. In many other organizations, including the new Jay regime, Snider probably would have finished the season in AA. The "problem" was that Snider seemed to handle the promotions in stride. His small-sample AAA results were excellent, with lower strikeouts, so the fast-tracking was getting positive feedback. It's very difficult to get off that fast track if the train is rolling right along, and there was more positive feedback after his promotion, continuing until late April 09. Even if he hadn't been promoted in 2008, he might still have won the ML job the following Spring Training and we'd be in the same position today.  It's hard to say if he would be any better or worse off if he  had finished 08 in AA and started 09 in AAA. Considering Cito's approach, I bet we'd still be debating the same issue of playing time vs. development.






brent - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 07:10 PM EDT (#221752) #

You can't rule out anything until Overbay plays again or September starts.

Magpie - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#221753) #
I wouldn't be surprised if hitters are making it to the majors earlier then ever.

This is an interesting thought. I have no idea if you're right, and unfortunately there's only one way to find out....

So yes. I went plunging through the data. I worked backwards, year-by-year, keeping track of each player aged 22 or younger who received at least 150 PApps (to make sure I didn't get any pitchers caught up in the net) and also which ones received at least 400 PApps.

Having made my way back to 1977, covering both the entire history of the Blue Jays as well all of the modern free agent era, I suddenly remembered how much I was getting paid to do all this. I therefore contented myself with taking some ten year snapshots: 1967, 1957, 1947, 1937 and so on.

What have I learned?

Well, it's all a jumble! I have no idea yet how to organize all this data into some presentable form, but I can pass along a few things...

Which year saw the most young hitters in action?

Well, it was 1977. By a mile. There were five 21 year-olds and ten (!) 22 year-olds who made at least 400 plate appearances. Two 20 year-olds, one 21 year-old, and seven 22 year-old were in the 150-399 plate appearance range. And let me be the first to say that this means diddley-squat. As we know, 1977 was an expansion year. New jobs were created out of nothing, etc.

In general, the willingness of teams to put young hitters in the lineup seems to fluctuate on a fairly random basis, and always has. In this decade, the highest figures were in 2005 and 2006 (15 young hitters), and in both seasons it was almost all 22 year olds who were seeing action. Whereas there were only 8 young hitters active in 2001.

Things are wild in the 1990s, which saw a couple of expansions: there were only three (3!) young hitters active in 1993. But there were 18 young hitters in both 1998 (after the expansions) and in 1991 (before.)

I suspect there may be some cases of follow-the-leader - if one team does well with a very young hitter, other teams try the same thing.

Also - if all the promising young hitters come to the Show in 1991, there aren't going to be that many left to follow them in 1993....

Finally, here's as complete a list as I can devise of teenage hitters in the free agent era, and the number of PApps they were given:

1983 Jose Oquendo (353)
1989 Ken Griffey (506)
1991 Ivan Rodriguez (288)
1996 Edgar Renteria (471)
1998 Adrian Beltre (214)
2004 B.J. Upton (177)
2007 Justin Upton (152)

Alex Rodriguez (149 PApps) and Andruw Jones (113 PApps) just missed....

And 20 year old hitters in the FA era:

1977 Terry Puhl (265), Thad Bosley (235)
1978 Alan Trammel (504), Clint Hurdle (481), Bob Horner (359), Glenn Hubbard (179)
1979 Rickey Henderson (398), Danny Ainge (331)
1980 Lloyd Moseby (430)
1981
1982
1983
1984 Jose Oquendo (211)
1985
1986 Ruben Sierra (411)
1987
1988 Roberto Alomar (611)
1989 Gary Sheffield (405), Sammy Sosa (203)
1990 Ken Griffey (666)
1991
1992 Ivan Rodriguez (454)
1993
1994
1995
1996 Alex Rodriguez (677), Luis Castillo (180)
1997 Edgar Renteria (691), Andruw Jones (467)
1998 Aramis Ramirez (275)
1999 Adrian Beltre (614)
2000
2001
2002 Carl Crawford (278)
2003 Miguel Cabrera (346), Jose Reyes (292)
2004 Jose Lopez (218)
2005
2006
2007
2008 Justin Upton (417)
2009 Elvis Andrus (541)

This is going to be the biggest year in decades for 20 year-olds, with Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, Mike Stanton, and Ruben Tejada.
Dave Till - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 07:44 PM EDT (#221754) #
As I think I mentioned, I found my old Minor League Register files. As it happens, I still have permission to edit my old articles (a legacy from the days when I was on the Batter's Box Roster), so I've edited the old articles to include the written text for the players that were originally there but somehow disappeared.

I didn't include any minor league stats for the formerly missing players, as (a) I am too lazy to do the formatting, and (b) you can find all that stuff on Baseball Reference now anyways.

For what it's worth, here's some Buzz Factors for recent players. Disclaimer: I basically make this stuff up.

Snider: 9
Hechavarria: 9
Drabek: 8
Arencibia: 7 (was lower before this year, and about 5 before That Game)
D'Arnaud is probably a 5
Cecil: 7
Hill was probably 8
Rzep is about a 4; so is Mills
Janssen: 6
Marcum: 6 (he wasn't highly touted coming up; neither was Hentgen)
Romero: 8 (part of that was being compared endlessly to Tulowitzki)

ComebyDeanChance - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#221756) #
It's just the poor luck on BABIP. BABIP is not simply a matter of 'luck'. Ichiro Suzuki's BABIP is not 'luck' every year. He beats out infield hits. Snider doesn't. Moreover, Snider's BABIP in 2009 was .296 and in 2010 .293 which is as close to average (and thus not at all a matter of 'luck') as you can get. Yesterday, you posted that 'statistics show that Snider has more range than Bautista'. Fangraphs has Bautiista's UZR/150 is +9 at RF, Snider's is at -21.5 as an OF, and -31 at RF.
John Northey - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#221757) #

A different topic, but did anyone else see tumbleweed at the Tampa game?  11,968 in attendance. 

If this was in Toronto it would be unfortunate, but understandable (team not making playoffs).  But it wasn't.  It was in Tampa, where the team is tied with the Yankees for first place in the major leagues. 

Is this normal in Tampa still?  Boston was there on the weekend and they cracked 30k just one out of 3 games.  Just 10 times they've cracked 30k while being sub-20 27 times (7 sub 15k).

For comparison, here in Toronto 30k has been reached 8 times (lots of times sub-20k).  That just seems wrong.  Tampa is at 23k per game for overall average, 9th in the AL.  The Jays are at 20k, 12th (Oakland & Cleveland both at the 17k level).  Tampa was viewed from day one as a serious contender.  The Jays, from day one, were viewed as shark bait.  Baltimore is just below Tampa and they have sucked from day one.

Sad really.  If Tampa's team was in Montreal we'd see 30k per game regularly, maybe even selling out the big O.  In Toronto it would be a sold out park.

ComebyDeanChance - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 10:29 PM EDT (#221758) #
For one thing, Tampa is much farther from upstate NY, where a lot of the people come from who attend the 30k+ games in Toronto, both as NYY and Red Sox fans.

In other news today, ex-Blue Jay Roger Clemens (does anyone think of him that way?) was arraigned. I have to wonder whether Rusty Hardin's comment that 'Roger will eat Jeff Nowitzki's lunch' may have been a comment on Roger's appetite rather than what appeared to be the dumbest thing defence counsel could say.

Lastly, Mannywood is coming to Ozzieland. I suspect Manny will do less 'Manny being Manny' when Ozzie's running the show.
DaveB - Monday, August 30 2010 @ 11:35 PM EDT (#221759) #
BABIP is not simply a matter of 'luck'. Ichiro Suzuki's BABIP is not 'luck' every year. He beats out infield hits. Snider doesn't. Moreover, Snider's BABIP in 2009 was .296 and in 2010 .293 which is as close to average (and thus not at all a matter of 'luck') as you can get.

The "unlucky" aspect of Snider's performance is the number of base hits on line drives. According to FanGraphs, he has 34 line drives in 194 AB; a healthy 17.5 pct. Of those 34 line drives only 18 have been base hits, for a very low BA of .515. If his BA on line drives was the same this year as last year, Snider would have 10 more hits, an overall BA of .294 and OBP of .354. His line drive BA last year was high, but that's just to give a year to year comparison of his performance and obviously involves a volatile small sample.

I'm
all for increasing the sample size as much as possible, for the rest of the season.

Kasi - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 12:13 AM EDT (#221760) #
Bautista is not at +9 in OF. Go look at your stats again. You went and linked his stats from CF, which he has all of 3 innings at. Go link his RF numbers, the position he actually plays. That would be a -9.3. Yes he is a bit better then Snider, but certainly not enough to make up for Mac's bat.

As for BABIP, Snider unlike Ichiro hits Line Drives. Line Drives have the highest BABIP of all batted types (much higher then fly balls or ground balls, the later of which Ichiro hits tons of) Ground balls typically have pretty low BABIP numbers Once again you show your inability to read the Fangraphs website. Snider has a careed BABIP of .320. Last year he had a BABIP of .316. This year it is .293. He is missing about .25 points off his typical BABIP. You give him that back and he's hitting a good .270-.280. I am still befuddled to how you misread every single stat you stated off Fangraphs.



Kasi - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 12:22 AM EDT (#221761) #
To elaborate on what Dave said, yes Snider is unlucky. Typical BABIP on line drives is around 70%. Snider is getting much lower than that, around 50%. His peripherals are improving. His power is up, his K rate is down, and as tonight's game showed, I think his defense is improving too. He's making some good plays out there in left. He isn't familiar with right though and needs more time there, but he did play the position through the minors and does have the arm for it. I wish his walk rate was a bit better, but overall I think Snider has made important strides this season. He just needs to get consistent playing time to build on it. If you look at the stats that build Snider's season, it is clear as crystal that this guy is on the upswing. I still do wonder if his wrist is all the way back given the lack of home runs since he returned, but he's pushed a lot of doubles deep to the OF, so I think that is on its way too.
Thomas - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 01:59 AM EDT (#221762) #
Bautista is not at +9 in OF. Go look at your stats again. You went and linked his stats from CF, which he has all of 3 innings at. Go link his RF numbers, the position he actually plays. That would be a -9.3. Yes he is a bit better then Snider, but certainly not enough to make up for Mac's bat.

I don't think Bautista's as bad as those stats suggest. Unless I'm mistaken, UZR/150 does not incorporate a player's arm, so Bautista is underrated due to the strength of his arm and the number of outfield assists he accumulates. Bautista's arm alone. This is a significant component of his defensive game in the outfield.

Bautista's clearly stretched in CF, but nobody pretends he's anything but an emergency/odd game fill-in at the position. He shouldn't be, and isn't, the team's primary backup at the position, but he is perfectly fine as a defensive RF. This year's UZR/150 is noticeably lower in RF for Bautista than the previous two seasons and I'd hedge my bets on 2010 being the most accurate reading of where his true defensive abilities lie.

Kasi - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#221767) #
UZR yes does include an outfielder's arm. One of the major components is:

Outfield Arm Runs (ARM) Ė the amount of runs above average an outfielder saves with their arm by preventing runners to advance.


I'm sure Bautista does quite well on that part, but I'm guessing Bautista does badly in the same area where he does when playing at third. He does well at getting to the balls he gets, but his range is lacking. Now Snider right now isn't very good at right. He's misplayed some plays badly out there, but I don't think it is because of a lack of talent, skill or effort. He is just unfamiliar with the position. We have seen him make a number of excellent plays in left with his glove and I feel he could be a slightly below average right fielder given more innings there. He'll probably always be a better left fielder then right, but unlike Lewis he can actually play the position.

Which is beside the point. Snider should be playing every day, solely because he is better then Lewis. The Bautista right/third conundrum just allows them to get Lewis in there instead of Mac at a slight hit to outfield defense.

Thomas - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#221770) #
UZR yes does include an outfielder's arm.

I thought UZR on Fangraphs didn't include arm ratings. My mistake.

Thomas - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#221771) #
From the Fangraphs website:

Unlike other versions of UZR, the ones that appear on FanGraphs use Baseball Info Solutions location data instead of STATS location data. Also, this UZR data does not currently include outfield arms and double plays are treated as regular outs.

It looks like we both might have been right, in that UZR normally includes outfield arms, but doesn't on Fangraphs.

92-93 - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#221772) #
Jose Bautista's OF defense has started to become wildly overrated by Jays fans because he has a really strong arm. I haven't seen anything this season with my eyes to suggest that he's a better defensive OF than Snider, and Travis hasn't been given the chance to get comfortable playing the same position every single day. That makes a HUGE difference in the OF, getting used to the angles/viewpoints from each position and how the ball flies off the bat towards you.

"and the other (Lewis) doesn't defend as well as expected"

Actually, Fred has been exactly as advertised. When he came over to Toronto I spoke with some of my West Coast college friends and to a man they all said if you thought Rios frustrated you, wait until you see Lewis play everyday. Early on the media was peddling the idea that Lewis was very fast and potentially a good defensive outfielder. Unfortunately it's apparent that no amount of athleticism can make up for his complete lack of baseball IQ. There's a reason SF had no problem jettisoning a career .277/.355/.420 with a real athletic look. It will be very interesting to see this winter how AA plays the Lewis and/or Encarnacion situations.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#221773) #
I wouldn't go that far.  Snider has average speed and gives it his all, but his instincts in the outfield (although improved) need a lot of work.  When I saw scouting video of Snider when he was drafted, I truly doubted that he could become a decent outfielder.  He has worked hard at it, and it is pretty clear to me that he can become decent (unlike Adam Dunn).  He is not quite there yet.  All the more reason to give him everyday work now...
Kasi - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#221774) #
Ahh well, learn something new every day! Thanks for the update.
smcs - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#221775) #
I wouldn't be surprised if hitters are making it to the majors earlier then ever.

Well, more teams and more roster spots would make me think that there are more young hitters in total, but probably not more young hitters as an average of all.  In doing research for a question like this, the pesky problem of the Baby Bonus rule would have to be dealt with.  It would push the numbers of young hitters up in the 50s and 60s, but on very few occasions were these players actually ready to play in the majors at 18 or 19, and were irrevocably damaged.  A possibly apocryphal story is that Jim Kaat's father forbade Kaat from signing a baby bonus contract and made him take less money so that he could play in the minors.
Thomas - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#221776) #
Jose Bautista's OF defense has started to become wildly overrated by Jays fans because he has a really strong arm. I haven't seen anything this season with my eyes to suggest that he's a better defensive OF than Snider

Agree to disagree, I guess. I don't think he's a particularly strong defender, but I don't think he's a -10 outfielder either. My point was that his previous seasons have him with a positive UZR/150 rating in RF and that, regardless, that rating underrates him because of his arm strength. Whether or not his arm has caused him to be wildly overrated I'll leave aside (although I haven't heard many people proclaiming him the next Jesse Barfield because of it), but it is a strength that deserves to be factored into any analysis of his defense.

I don't disagree with the thrust of Kasi's points on Bautista, which is that Bautista's range is below average but that he compensates for this with a strong arm and sure hands. I don't disagree that we should be giving Snider more time in LF to learn the position and that he can improve his defensive instincts and abilities, but I do think Bautista is the better defender right now.

Dewey - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 12:17 PM EDT (#221777) #
Iíve seen repeated reference on Da Box recently that Snider is Ďslowí or Ďaverage speedí.  I donít see that.  O.K., heís not a speed demon; but that doesnít make him slow.  When you look at him you may *expect* him to run slowly, but he can move.  And I have seen him beat out a hit.  Murphy was commenting at some point this summer on TV about Sniderís deceptive speed, saying the coaching staff certainly didnít think of him as a compromise on the basepaths.

  Lay off my boy, Travis, you carpers.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#221779) #
Average speed was intended as a compliment, Dewey.  Snider's faster than Aaron Hill (at this point in his career) or Eric Hinske (ever). 
Wildrose - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#221787) #
It looks like we both might have been right, in that UZR normally includes outfield arms, but doesn't on Fangraphs.

Actually Thomas, I believe you had it right the first time. The original UZR formula did not incorporate outfield arms, but his more recent data actually does ( from Fangraphs Feb 11/2009)

All the UZR stats on the site have been updated thanks to Mitchel Lichtmanís outfield arm and double play ratings!

- UZR now inlcudes outfield ARM runs and Double Play runs.
- ARM and DPR (Double Play runs) are broken out separately in the fielding sections.
- All player Win Values have been updated to include these additions.
- There have also been some slight changes to UZR that adjust for how fielderís choice plays were being calculated.


 
robertdudek - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 01:35 PM EDT (#221789) #
I agree absolutely about Las Vegas - it's such a weird place to play that it's difficult to assess your own talent. And it's so easy to hit there, that I think it's hard for hitters to make any genuine progress. The game is practically being handed to them (well, as much as it ever is...)

I just don't believe this is even remotely true. There have been hitters parks in the PCL for a long long time; Colorado Springs didn't stop Todd Helton from developing into a great hitter; nor did all Dodgers prospects fail because of Albuquerque.

All you have to do is let the proper amount of air out of their stats. If you do that, I think you'll find that hitters who had favourable AAA parks were not adversely affected.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 01:49 PM EDT (#221790) #
It probably affects certain pitchers (those who are sensitive to environment) more than hitters.  I do believe that if you put a young pitcher in extremely adverse circumstances, there is a greater likelihood of a long-term loss of confidence. 
Dewey - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#221793) #
Oh please, Mike.  ďAverageĒ a compliment?   (Not here in Lake Woebegon, where all the children are exceptional.)   Do you remember Pat Abruzzi, the Montreal Als fullback years ago?  Built like a fire-hydrant, and deceptively fast.  He could run through defensive backs, but mostly he just ran past them.  Sometime Snider reminds me of Abruzzi when heís really motoring.  I donít want to be making exaggerated claims about Sniderís speed; but the kid isnít a negative as far as running is concerned.  He might, alas, get that way fairly early.  Depends on his discipline with weight and conditioning, I suppose.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#221795) #
Geez.  5 is Tim Raines/Willie Wilson/Vince Coleman/Carl Crawford et al., 1 is Benji Molina/Willie Mays Aikens.  Snider fits comfortably right in the middle; that would however put him way above average for the 2010 Jays. 
Dewey - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#221798) #
Geez.  5 is Tim Raines/Willie Wilson/Vince Coleman/Carl Crawford et al., 1 is Benji Molina/Willie Mays Aikens.  Snider fits comfortably right in the middle; that would however put him way above average for the 2010 Jays.

Well, O.K., if that's what your stats tell you.  Benji could rumble.

 (Oh.  5 is better than 1?)
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#221799) #
Those aren't statistics, Dewey, they're damn lies. :)
Magpie - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#221815) #
In doing research for a question like this, the pesky problem of the Baby Bonus rule would have to be dealt with.

When I started rumbling through the history of young hitters (before I remembered how I get paid, etc etc), I set the initial bar at 150 PApps because I didn't want any pitchers to get caught up in the net. That may also eliminate many of the Bonus Babies as well, though. Harmon Killebrew, for example, had 15 and 89 PApps in his two years on a major league roster as a Bonus Baby. And if their manager was willing to actually play them - Al Kaline, for example, and why wouldn't you play Al Kaline - hey, he's just another young hitter!
Magpie - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 04:16 PM EDT (#221816) #
I also think Snider has pretty good speed - better than average, not quite above-average? who the hell knows?

But I'll bet you it's gone by the time he's 28.
92-93 - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#221825) #
Like Vernon's?
DaveB - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 05:31 PM EDT (#221827) #
I agree about Snider having pretty good speed, certainly more speed than most power hitting types of players. I was very impressed with his physical conditioning coming into this season. Apart from Wise and Lewis I don't think there is a faster guy on the team. Faint praise perhaps, but there's a good athlete inside that blocky body. Nice comparison to Abruzzi, who I remember well.
Magpie - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#221828) #
Vernon was 17 for 21 as a base stealer last year, when he was 30. Travis runs pretty well, but he isn't fast enough to do that now.
DaveB - Tuesday, August 31 2010 @ 08:06 PM EDT (#221841) #
Oh I agree on the stolen base thing, Magpie. I wasn't thinking of that as a test of speed, though. I was just thinking of a flatout race, maybe 60 yards as they use in prospect testing.
92-93 - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 10:55 AM EDT (#221859) #
It's very dangerous to start judging speed by SBs and CS% considering how much of it has to do with your manager and game situations.
Magpie - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#221870) #
Agreed - and on this time especially, stolen base attempts are entirely the manager's discretion. It's still a terrific percentage, and that's on the player.

And I don't know how much comes across on the TV - but I'm at the ballpark a lot, and I want to bear witness: Wells runs fast. If the entire team ran a circuit of the basepaths, he might win it. Right now.
smcs - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#221871) #
Wells is also actually a good baserunner.  I'd say Lewis is faster than him in, say, a 60 yard dash, but stealing bases is different.  I was at the 1st Tigers-Jays game, and my brother and I were shocked at how telegraphed Lewis' steal of 2nd was, and how small of a lead he took.  He was safe, but because the throw was off-line.

Related note: are the dirt cutouts around the bases smaller this year?  I remember it used to be a big deal when someone was taking a lead out to the 'grass,' but it seems like it's happening a lot more often this year.

John Northey - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#221879) #
Just took a look over at the Yankee stats...
AJ Burnett: 3.7 BB/9 6.7 K/9 1.1 HR/9 and a 77 ERA+

Boy did the Jays avoid a bullet when AJ opted out. This winter if he was a free agent I doubt anyone would sign him for $10+ a year, thus no draft picks for his leaving. Plus his ERA+ is worse than our big 4, his BB/9 is worse than all but Morrow, and his K/9 is worse than all but Cecil. His HR/9 is worse than all but Marcum. So he basically combines the worse elements of each of our big 4's games. Ouch. Mills actually has a better ERA+ (78) and a better K/9 (7.6) so he might actually be the better pitcher (given who he has had to face) right now!

Scary how fast a pitcher can collapse.
Jonny German - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#221881) #

Crash & Burn...ett

Another data point in the ridiculousness that is Yankee spending. No other team signs horrible contracts like this without feeling some pain for it. It is absurd that MLB allows them to "compete" in this manner.

Jonny German - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#221882) #
Jeter $22.6M
Burnett $16.5M
Vazquez $11.5M
Johnson $5.5M
Marte $4.0M
Igawa $4.0M
____
$64.1M
 
The Yankees are spending more in 2010 on below-average players than 9 teams are spending on their entire rosters. Including your Toronto Blue Jays at $62.7M and not far behind the Rays at $71.9M.
Thomas - Wednesday, September 01 2010 @ 06:31 PM EDT (#221887) #
Heralded prospect Desmond Jennings makes his major league debut today for Tampa Bay, batting second behind BJ Upton. Having just traded for him in a keeper league earlier this year, I will be looking on with particular interest.

Travis Snider is on the bench instead of Bautista, Arencibia, Lewis, McDonald and McCoy. David Price is a tough southpaw, but he's a good pitcher and there isn't a noticeable difference in the splits. I'd prefer to see Snider in the field, Bautista at 3B and McDonald at SS, but that goes without saying.
92-93 - Thursday, September 02 2010 @ 03:15 AM EDT (#221892) #
I bet a reliever like Janssen or Carlson could give Wells a run for his money.
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