Saturday, June 10, 2006

Jeff Larish or an example of batting average being overrated

Jeff Larish is a good hitter. Yet to some he hasn’t done enough to be an all star or even enough to be considered a good prospect. To some there is a magical cut off for where a player is good. That magical cut off is the batting average.

Entering Saturday night Jeff Larish is 15th in the FSL in OBP at .365. He is 6th in the FSL in SLG at .502. He has an ISO of 246. Yet he seemingly is still underrated because he is only batting .256.

Why do we have this fascination with batting average when it has been proven time and time again to be a truly flawed statistic? I think it is because people think that the only way that a batter really succeeds is if they get a hit.

A walk is just a mistake by the pitcher. Drawing walks is just luck not skill. Such things are often stated by old school baseball fans. Yet when you look at the top offensive teams in every level of baseball their ranking in number of runs is almost identical to the OBP.

As for Jeff Larish, there is a concern that he is unable to handle inside heat. This hole in his swing is likely something that will effect his entire career. Yet he is able to get around it currently with the ability to turn on a pitch if a pitcher misses this hole even slightly. He has 56 strikeouts in 215 at bats so if he makes it to the Majors doing that the complaints that people have about Granderson will transfer to Larish as well. Fortunately for Larish much like Granderson he has shown the ability to walk as well; drawing 34 of them this season.

The future for Larish is fairly bright. He has a good ceiling if everything goes right. He projects as a .285/.396/.510 hitter if everything goes right. I think it is very possible that he reaches a .260/.370/.485 production line. It’s very likely that he will strike out over 130 times in a season. But I think he has a good enough eye that he will also draw over 100 walks as well.

Overall I like him a lot as a prospect. I think he could be putting some serious heat on Shelton by mid 2007. He also has some history playing in the OF if need be. It is also possible that he could take over the DH role at that time.

Yet he is a bad hitter right now because his batting average is simply too low. Forget that batting average actually one of the worst ways to judge a player, but hey at least it isn't RBIs!

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