Reese Kaplan - A Somewhat Obscure Troika

Courtesy of a trial version of software from a fantasy baseball website, I was able to get a downloadable copy of the 2014 stats for pitchers and hitters.  In addition to the usual metrics, I got curious to identify people who were in the upper echelon of the league in terms of HR/AB and RBI/AB to see if there were some undervalued players out there.  Most turned out to be outliers and a check of their previous major and minor league history suggested that they really don’t have much potential to improve.  However, three names came up that looked like they were definitely worth pursuing further:

Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins

It’s unlikely you could pry the 23 year old away from the Twins, particularly with the other power threat in their outfield, Josh Willingham, likely to depart via free agency.  The .231 average doesn’t jump out at you as a must-have kind of guy, but a closer look at his minor league career and his power numbers – 20 HRs and 57 RBIs in just 372 ABs -- suggest he's worth considering.  In fact, baseball-reference.com projects him to average 28 HRs and 81 RBIs over the course of a full season. 

Dive a little deeper into his minor league numbers and you see he’s a career .314 hitter in the minors with numbers NOT inflated by the PCL high altitude ballparks.  In his last full year in 2012 split between AA and AAA he his 17 HRs, drove in 98, hit .320 and only struck out 107 times.  His OBP was a healthy .388, he slugged .539 and had an OPS of .938. 

When a team has room on its roster for the likes of a Mike Pelfrey, they would probably be very interested in the pitching the Mets could offer.   

Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies

It seems every team now and then has a guy who has potential but doesn’t produce enough to warrant a regular place in the lineup.  Maybe it was the publicity coming in that raised expectations to an unrealistic level or maybe it is a case of AAAA disease, but Ruf seems to have bounced around the big club for quite awhile without ever establishing himself.  Towards that end, let’s look at Mr. Ruf.  His power is prodigious.  He hits HRs at a high frequency per AB and did have a minor league season in which he delivered 38 HRs, 104 RBIs while hitting .317.  That represented an improvement over his previous season in A+ when he delivered 17/82/.308.  Baseball-reference.com has him projected for 24/57/.251 over the course of a full season.  Considering he has a career .295 average in the minors, it suggests he has room to improve.  The big red flag is that he’s now 27 and playing for an inferior team that could use all the help it could get, so if they’re willing to let him go in trade you might have to ask why?  They could use starting pitching and a new catcher with Carlos Ruiz already 35 and having missed a lot of time due to injury.  

Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals

For all of the publicity Joc Pederson has gotten playing in the Dodgers farm system has received, Taylor has flown somewhat under the radar while producing at a similar level for the Division Champion Washington Nationals.  In his last season in AA/AAA he produced 23HRs, 64 RBIs and hit .304 while stealing 37 bases.  For comparison’s sake Pederson delivered 33/78/.303 with 30 SBs, but did so in the hitter-friendly PCL .  Now Taylor has not yet had a full year of AAA but had a cup of coffee with the Nats and struggled a bit.  Like the Dodgers, there’s no room at the inn for outfielders in DC with Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth occupying the three slots, so it’s possible you could pry him away though I’m not sure what you could offer that would be an upgrade for them.  Initially I thought Kevin Plawecki would be a centerpiece but Wilson Ramos isn’t exactly chopped liver nor ready to start collecting Social Security.  Here might be an example of where a Juan Lagares could make sense as trade bait, thus letting the Nats sever ties with Span and the Mets sliding Matt den Dekker into CF.    


Art Peser said...

The Mets are not trading Lagares for Taylor. Additionally, Taylor is hardly an under the radar guy.

Tom Brennan said...

All three strike out a ton. We hate that attribute in Kirk, and they do likewise.

Not to say there are no upsides to these guys, especially the 2 not named Ruf. Ruf's ongoing K rate at his age is not promising.

Some Minny fan who likes the Minny guy in your trio noted him to be a terrible fielder too.

Taylor has great speed and a high on base despite the huge strikeout rate. Maybe he can grow out of that. If he could, he'll really be dangerous.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

RE: High Strikeout Rate

Let me ask you a question...

Player A - 100 at bats... makes out 70 times... hits .300

Player B - 100 at bats... makes out 70 times of which 35 are strikeouts... hits .300

I know, there are RISP issues and stuff like that, but is player B really that much worse than player A?

Anonymous said...


LOL....that question could only be answered in the following manner....

World Series Game 7
Score is Tied 3-3
Men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out
Pitcher is due up to Bat
You have 2 available bats on the bench
A: .300 hitter, K's in 40% of his PA
B: .300 hitter, K's in 10% of his PA

Who do you send up to the plate?

Tom Brennan said...

On strikeouts I don't really get critical when guys are once every 4 times up or better - after all, this is 2014, the era of the strikeout.

But when they get down towards one every 3 times up, I get nervous. All 3 of these guys are around there.

True that if they get on base a lot, other than Chris' scenario, it is not a huge differential. But strikeouts kill rallies and don't advance runners, so they are worse outs in general than ones where the ball is put in play.

Mack Ade said...

Chris -

I send up the player with the highest BA vs. that pitcher in his career.

Mack Ade said...


the K doesn't come into play nor does a walk help... both batters are still .300

Steve from Norfolk said...

Does the guy with 10% SO get more outs on balls in play from FO or GO? A SO in this case is better tha hitting into a DP, where a FO may score both men on base. I'd pick the batter who hits the most fly balls against the guy who's going to pitch to him.

Steve from Norfolk said...

Sorry, a couple more issues.

Is the home team batting or the visiting team? If you're the home team is batting your worst outcome is having the tie continue, where if the visiting team is batting you still have to get three more outs without allowing a run in order to get another AB - assuming it's the 9th inning. Chris didn't say.

If it's the top of the 9th, you want a deep fly even more than an infield hit - an infield hit may not score anyone, just continue the AB, where a deep fly scores both baserunners and still leaves you an out. A ground ball that's not a hit could mean a DP, and end the AB.

Allof which is why managers get ulcers from the aspirin they eat for the headaches, and make Rolaids commercials.

eraff said...

Wait---NOW I have a CHOICE of .300 hitters????

The game has moved rapidly toward situational play. The defense is ahead because hitters have become 1 trick ponies. Pitch Count...Games Situation...no matter!...same Swing!!!!

That needs to change. 150-200 strikeouts is acceptable from a big bop 40 HR guy---not so good with 15-25 dings.

Hitting it where they ain't...heck...HITTING IT.... that's gonna become a bit more popular again. The ability to hit situationally is greatly attached to contact rate.

So---I'd LOVE the choice between .300 hitters, but the .300 hitters are going to be Higher Contact Guys. The 15 HR, 35-40 double gap hitter who can "move the ball around when needed" is gaining value in a decreased offensive environment.

The defense is ahead----the offense needs to answer. The shift will be reduced when the hitters respond.

Bill Metsiac said...

As far as I'm concerned, EXCEPT in those cases when a ball in play advances a runner, a K is no different that any other out. When compared with DP grounders, I'd actually prefer the K.

As far as the players mentioned here are concerned, they're still PROSPECTS until proven otherwise. At another site I posted at loong, long ago in a galaxy far away, an oft-used term was the acronym GIGS, which stood for "Grass is Greener Syndrome". It was used for trade proposals that presumed that players on other teams were better than ours, without significant statistical evidence.

We've got a bunch of guys with very impressive MnL stats, particularly in Wallyville. A prime example is denDekker, who was a terrific AAA hitter, plays excellt D, and can steal bases. And following his recall in mid-season, he was productive in Queens. Why should he and others be brushed aside while those in other orgs are worth trading our top pitching prospects for? If their own orgs feel they are so valuable they won't come cheap.

I'd prefer to give our own the chance to play, especially Flores and dD, until they show they're not good enough. And in that case, let's look to players who have produced at the MAJOR League level.