Thursday, May 08, 2008

Scanning the System: Shortsops

Luck plays a large role in hitting. Take the case of Matt Joyce this week. Monday night with the bases loaded, he roped a line drive down the right field line, only to end up in the glove of J.D. Drew. Two days later, he starts a game-winning rally with an infield single on a bouncer to the shortstop. This won't happen in other sports. In basketball, good shots will go in more often than bad shots. In golf, a good putt will go in more often than a poor one. In auto racing, the fast car will always beat the slow car. Meanwhile, in baseball, a well-hit ball can be hit right at a player, while a slow roller off the end of the bat can result in a hit. This is what I am talking about when describing "luck," and the point of this series is to try and filter out that luck from the performances of players in the minor leagues. For an explanation of what everything means, see the post on catchers.

Edgar Renteria, 32
Actual: .280/.307/.380
Expected: .348/.371/.454

Renteria will always be judged way too harshly, so long as Jair Jurrjens keeps pitching well for Atlanta. Mack Avenue Tigers had a nice post on the trade. As far as his performance goes, his batting line is mediocre to date, but a superb 27% line-drive rate suggests great things to come. So far, this series has correctly projected steps forward from Placido Polanco. I'd expect the same of Renteria, although the line-drive rate could be a fluke as well.

Derek Wathan, 31
Actual: .261/.307/.348
Expected: .337/.376/.424

Erick Almonte, 30
Actual: .296/.419/.535
Expected: .366/.476/.605

Two more guys with ungodly line drive rates are waiting in the wings in Toledo. These two minor league veterans don't project to be anything more than emergency utility men, but don't expect them to cool down.

Danny Worth, 22
Actual: .281/.344/.421
Expected: .193/.266/.333

Despite hitting line drives less than half as frequently as the above three shortstops, Worth is having more balls in play fall in has hits. Simply put, he's been lucky so far, and this will only help to cement his status as most overrated Tigers' prospect.

Cale Iorg, 22
Actual: .270/.328/.468
Expected: .261/.320/.460

Shawn Roof, 23
Actual: .327/.391/.400
Expected: .218/.297/.291

Iorg started very hot, but has cooled off since. Amidst his cold streak, he was suspended for an undisclosed reason. For a guy who took two years off, his start so far will do the trick. It's no big surprise that Roof is a flash in the pan. The hope is that the organization doesn't start putting too much stock in him. I doubt they will.

West Michigan:
Audy Ciriaco, 20
Actual: .227/.262/.320
Expected: .217/.252/.310

"Raw," "inconsistent," "tools"... These are words that you hear to describe Ciriaco. Patience will be key with him. If he has the talent that scouts say he does, it will be worth the wait.

The shortstop situation on the farm is one to watch this season. With Edgar Renteria's $13-million option looming, having a legitimate option to replace him could be important, especially if the team's unexpected struggles start to wreak havoc on their financial situation. While I'm not one to root against a player, my hope is that Danny Worth quits getting breaks and his overall numbers start to show his real performance. If he fools the organization and is thrust into a big role, he could disappoint like the overachieving Tony Giarratano did.

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