Sunday, February 3, 2008

Melky (could become) MUCH More Than a 4th OF

As a part of the Johan discussions, a lot of people penned the opinion that Melky Cabrera is nothing more than a 4th OF and will never develop into a top center fielder. I completely disagree, and have 2 comps to use as reasons.

Melky won't turn 23 until July 2008 still putting him in the top 30 of the youngest players in all of baseball. We forget just how young Melky is, and that he therefore has significant upside still to realize.

Melky - 286 games, 1024 AB
Player B- 283 games, 1178 AB
Player C - 271 games, 1017 AB

Melky - 15 HR (1 HR every 68 AB)
Player B - 20 HR (1 HR every 59 AB)
Player C - 11 HR (1 HR every 92 AB)

In a very similar number of games and AB, player B showed a touch more power than the Melk man, and player C a touch less; either way, none draw Bambino comparisons. Power is typically the last tool to develop (as B and C will show); being comfortable enough at the plate to try and drive the ball instead of just trying to make enough contact to get a hit comes in time.

Melky - 99 BB/129 K (.767 BB per K)
Player B- 130 BB/199 K (.653 BB per K)
Player C - 31 BB/118 K9 (.26 BB per K)

During the early part of a player's career, pitch recognition is paramount. Therefore, the ratio of walks per strikeout is an excellent measure of how well a young player is handling the bat. Player B improved to the tune of a .88 for his career; a 35% improvement (player C remained approx 2:1 K/BB). Should Melky experience the same percentage increase as player B he will be walking more than once for every K.

Melky - .275 BA, .340 OBP, .388 SLG
Player B -.262 BA, .340 OBP, .393 SLG
Player C - .285 BA, .310 OBP, .387 SLG

There is absolutely nothing here to say that either player B or C looked like they were going to develop any differently than Melky.

Lifetime stats -

Player B - .297 BA, .381 OBP, .477 SLG, career 125 OPS+ 5 time All Star over 16 seasons

Player C - .317 BA, .359 OBP, .475 SLG, career 130 OPS+, 15 time All Star over 18 seasons

So player B had a career OPS 25% above MLB average for his career, and player C 30% above MLB average for his career, while both started almost exactly like Melky.

Both player B and C were borderline hall of famers (C made it and B has not).

Again, the point of all of this is that it is WAY too early to start calling Melky a 4th outfielder. While projecting players using comp beginnings is pretty much akin to mental masturbation, there is still plenty of time for Melky to develop into an offensive force in center field.

Player B -

Player C -


Old Ranger said...

Melky is one of the players I didn't want to be traded.
You are right to say he has a lot of up side and is very young.On another blog, I tried to tell people; you trade Melky, then what? Where do you get a replacement, no one in our system is really ready or equil, Johonny D...I don't think so! This means we have to get someone in a trade...yah right, now you give up more players to replace Melky. So baseicly, you are trading 6/7 players and paying over $200m(taxes etc.) for one pitcher...not good. Thank you Cash!?! 27/08

MLBGM said...

You state 'pitch recognition is paramount'. But that is where Melky significantly differs from Bernie. Williams was always very close to even in K/BB ratio in the minors. Melky has been horrible in that area - 28 BB to 87 K's in his last year in the minors. Cabrera's first year may have just be an aberration. Also, Williams significantly improved his slugging every year in the majors - Cabrera's didn't budge from his performance his first year.
That is the key for Cabrera - will he ever develop any pop in his bat, or will he be a .400 slugger his whole career? Hard to tell for someone so young. Too bad Pettite has lost his connection, juicing up would help things!

YankeeGM said...


The point here is that Melky, clemente and Bernie all had extremely similar beginnings.

1. As Melky has now had 2 years in the Bigs, I don't understand how you can think his minor league stats are more pertinent than his major league. He was 18!

2. As Bernie and Melky have essentially the same SLG%, Bernie's fluctuation or shortcomings early are not a counterpoint to my argument.

Fernando Alejandro said...

I definetely think Melky will be a good player, but I do not think he will be a hall of fame player like Clemente or develop as much power as Bernie. But I understand the point you're making. Its not fair to judge someone so early in their career.

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