August 7, 2014
In A Pickle
The Players We Missed (2014)
Look, this is Sam's thing. He finds three guys who should have made the Annual and tells you about them. Or five guys sometimes. But Sam has a new job. Congrats on your new job, Sam! So I have been tasked with trying to be as interesting and funny as him in telling you about three players who did not make the Annual in 2014.
Why we missed him: I didn't know, so I asked Sam. "Maybe he signed too late?" Oh right! He's Cuban! Yeah, I bet ...
Hm. Okay, let's try this: While he spent the year putting up solid peripheral numbers in Double-A, his name never appeared in a Baseball Prospectus article until the American League West 2014 preseason preview.
What we would have said: The Mariners have Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Erasmo Ramirez, and even Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer, and Chris Young. Elias throws in the low 90s with his left hand, but Seattle can afford to let him pitch in Tacoma and see if his newfound ability to keep the ball in the park is real. In other news: Ro, ro, ro your enis / gently down the stream / merrily merrily merrily merrily / the playoffs in Seattle are but a dream.
What we'd say now: Elias has, improbably enough, seen only the tiniest degradation in his strikeout rate and actually cut his walk rate while skipping over Triple-A and taking 22 turns in the rotation thus far. He's a smidge more prone to the long ball than you'd like, but if all the Mariners found was a 4.00 FIP starter (a better mark than, for instance, Jarred Cosart, Drew Smyly, and Jason Vargas this season), they'll surely take that for the league minimum from ages 25 to 27, especially since any regression can be mitigated with a move to a lesser role. Joe Beimel's having a good year and all, and his beard is completely untouchable (no, really, it's disgusting, don't touch it), but if Elias needs to move to the bullpen, Beimel isn't the player and fellow lefty Charlie Furbush aren't going to keep him from doing so.
Bonus: Young and Beimel? Also did not make the book. They rank 327th and 447th in WARP this year, respectively.
Ender Inciarte: 1.1 WARP, 236th in baseball
Why we missed him: He hit in 2012, earning himself a Lineout in the 2013 book, but his ISO dropped under .100 in Double-A in 2013. There was evident speed and just as evident inability to reach base. At just 23 and without a real prospect pedigree, it seemed entirely reasonable for him to repeat Double-A and give us another crack at him in 2015.
What we would have said: It's always bugged me when authors don't acknowledge that they're the person who created a character's name. Like you're reading a book and someone is named something goofy and then another character makes fun of them for that name and all you can think is, "But you named her that and then you also wrote that joke!" In Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card makes clear that Ender's name is "Ender" because his older sister Valentine couldn't really pronounce "Andrew" correctly and it kind of came out "Ender" in that baby-talk way. Except then later on the name "Ender" becomes mad appropriate because he wipes out an entire race of creatures! You see! You see that incredible coincidence! That Card completely created from start to finish? It bugs me, I'm telling you.
(Don't you dare complain about spoilers, either. The book came out before you were born!)
What we'd say now: Inciarte is getting the bat knocked out of his hands (.226 TAv) and he should very very very much not be hitting leadoff, but with A.J. Pollock on the disabled list for the last two months, the Diamondbacks are happy they've been able to turn to the defensive whiz Inciarte to paper over the spot. He rates well in every defensive system you can think to look up on the Internet. Other things you can look up on the Internet are his tweets.
Andy Marte: 0 WARP, 677th in baseball
Why we missed him: Uh. I mean, come on. He hadn't played in the majors since 2010, and that had actually been his best year: 188 PA, .249 TAv, 0.3 WARP. He was crap at Triple-A in 2011, didn't play at all in 2012 (not even in independent ball or a second-tier non-U.S. league like the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol), and then hit well for the York Revolution in the Atlantic League in 2013, leading to a 26-game stint in Salt Lake. But the Atlantic League is the Atlantic League. He wound up sixth in OPS there in 2013, but finishing ahead of him were, in order: Cyle Hankerd, Brian Burgamy, Jake Fox, Ryan Langerhans, and Steve Moss. Just behind, practically tied with Marte, were Eddy Martinez-Esteve and Paddy Matera. Right? Right.
What we would have said: How friggin' neat would it be if Marte could make something of his .893 OPS in independent ball and .973 mark in the Pacific Coast League? Wouldn't it just be incredibly fun if he showed up to Reno this year and hit the snot out of the ball in a way he hasn't since he was 21 for Richmond in the International League? Wouldn't it just be the most superb story if, after all the tribulations, which include an incredible "Infection From Ingrown Hair on Stomach" line in his injury history, he made it back to the majors and didn't look completely helpless? Haha, nope, it's Andy Marte, the baseball gods hate you, and it's never going to happen. Go sleep it off.
What we'd say now: It happened. The Diamondbacks are down three infielders and Marte hit .330/.384/.513 at Reno and Arizona is 14 1/2 games out of first place, so sure, why not? If he's going to look this spry on defense then there's definitely no reason not to give it a shot.