CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Vote in the Internet Baseball Awards for a chance at a free copy of Dollar Sign on the Muscle
Voting ends in 15 days and 21 hours

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Draft Preview (06/07)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Can Of Corn: No Walks ... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Can Of Corn: Ohka-Doke... (06/15)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Surp... (06/07)

June 7, 2005

Can Of Corn

The Great Debate, Redux

by Dayn Perry

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

About ten months ago, I wrote a column comparing the prospect status of the Devil Rays' B.J. Upton to the Mets' David Wright. I determined that Upton, mostly by dint of his younger age and the possibility that he'd stick at shortstop, was the superior prospect. My reasoning was sound at the time, but with the current season more than two months old, it's perhaps time to revisit that debate.

At present, Upton is toiling at Triple-A Durham and hitting .289 AVG/.372 OBP/.418 SLG after 59 games. There's long been speculation that he'll be moved from short to a less exacting position, and while he's still manning shortstop for the time being, he does have 25 errors on the season. That miscue total isn't a stinging indictment for a 20-year-old, but I do question whether the organization has the patience and vision to let Upton fully test his mettle at the position.

In any event, his persistent defensive struggles aren't all that's troubling. As you can see, his power numbers are also lacking this season. In 2004, Upton slugged .519 and posted an isolated power figure of .208 in 69 games at Durham; this season, those figures have dropped to .418 and .129, respectively. Since Durham, in recent years, has played as a modest-to-strong hitters' environment, there aren't any mitigating factors to be found in the tendencies of the park.

The sample size of games for this season (and for his work at Durham last year, for that matter) is too small to draw any firm conclusions, and there's always the chance that his regression is a fluke-ish occurrence or that he's playing some unreported and minor--yet numbers-dampening--injury. So while my enthusiasm for Upton is somewhat abated because of this season's performance, I still regard him as one of the handful of top young talents in the game today (since both Upton and Wright have exhausted their rookie status, we now frame the debate in terms of "top young players" rather than "top prospects"). Wright, however, is another matter altogether.

At this writing, the Mets' third baseman is hitting .307/.399/.529, which is a very nice season for a 22-year-old playing half his games in Shea Stadium. What's also notable is the improved plate discipline he's shown this season. In 218 plate appearances, Wright's drawn 26 walks, all of them unintentional. And unlike most 22-year-old major-league regulars, he hasn't logged a single plate appearance this season from the eighth spot in the lineup, which means he hasn't enjoyed any of those "NL special" unintentional-intentional walks to pass over the eight hole in favor of the pitcher's spot. So the strides in strike-zone management, at least at this early juncture, appear to be genuine.

In fact, the power and patience he's flashing put him in fairly elite company. Presently, Wright's on pace this season for 75 walks and 70 extra-base hits. In fact, since 1900 only 46 players have logged at least 75 walks in a season at age 22 or younger, and only 29 players have logged at least 70 extra-base hits in a season under those same conditions. Of course, Wright is slated to do both this season. So here then is a list of players, since 1900, to pull off the 75/70 feat before their 23rd birthday:


Player               Season          Extra-base hits          Walks
Jimmie Foxx          1930              83                     93
Eddie Mathews        1953              86                     99
Mel Ott              1929              81                     113
Ted Williams         1939              86                     107
Ted Williams         1940              80                     96
Ted Williams         1941              73                     147

The above list comprises, one and all, inner-circle Hall of Famers, luminaries of the game and members of the 500-home run club. It's certainly premature to suggest that Wright's going to maintain this manner of statistical fellow traveler throughout his career, but if trends hold this season he'll be in rarified air.

For a little more perspective on these players, let's bring park effects, run scoring environment and precise age into the mix:



Player            Home Park Factor      Lg. R/G        Opening Day Age
Foxx              104                   5.41           22 yrs, 6 mos
Mathews           94                    4.75           21 yrs, 6 mos
Ott               100                   5.36           20 yrs, 1 mos
Williams ('39)    104                   5.21           20 yrs, 8 mos
Williams ('40)    104                   4.97           21 yrs, 8 mos
Williams ('41)    102                   4.74           22 yrs, 8 mos
Wright            90*                   4.64*          22 yrs, 3 mos

(* - based on 2005 numbers to date)

As you can see, Wright's played in the stingiest park and in the lowest-scoring environment of any of these players. His projected numbers, should they come to pass, won't stack up on a raw basis to those of the Foxx, Mathews, Ott and Williams, but we must account for the fact that Wright is having a tougher go of it in terms of home park and league. So I hereby declare David Wright to be "really, really good."

The Wright/Upton debate won't be settled for many years, but it's impossible to ignore the historic season that Wright is cobbling together. We've known for a few years now what a special talent the Mets have in Wright, but it's perhaps a little surprising that he's already laying siege to history.

Related Content:  David Wright

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Draft Preview (06/07)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Can Of Corn: No Walks ... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Can Of Corn: Ohka-Doke... (06/15)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Surp... (06/07)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL Wild Card Game Previe...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Edinson Volquez
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Are Elite Pitchers Becomi...
Premium Article Pitching Backward: In Love With Lohse
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Preview: Angels vs....
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL Wild Card Game Recap
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Preview: Orioles vs...

MORE FROM JUNE 7, 2005
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Surprise Team #3
Premium Article Draft Preview
Premium Article Under The Knife: Draft Day
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: The Yankees According t...
Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 5, 2005

MORE BY DAYN PERRY
2005-06-29 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Anti-Triple Crown Contenders
2005-06-21 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Running to Stand Still
2005-06-15 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Ohka-Dokey?
2005-06-07 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: The Great Debate, Redux
2005-06-01 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: No Walks for You
2005-05-24 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Back, and Packing Bullets
2004-12-30 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Wishes for 2005
More...

MORE CAN OF CORN
2005-06-29 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Anti-Triple Crown Contenders
2005-06-21 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Running to Stand Still
2005-06-15 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Ohka-Dokey?
2005-06-07 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: The Great Debate, Redux
2005-06-01 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: No Walks for You
2005-05-24 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Back, and Packing Bullets
2004-12-30 - Premium Article Can Of Corn: Wishes for 2005
More...