Can somebody explain to me why this guy was so highly touted? I just never saw it. What’d BA love about him? I remember a few games when he was in center with the Nats and the Pitcher was becoming furious with how poor his fielding was.
Comment by MetsKnicksRutgers — February 4, 2011 @ 2:29 pm
A ballplayer with the combined bloodlines (his dad played pro) and track record (dominated high school and showcase leagues) of Milledge is a low-risk nomination for a publication like BA, at least until his flaws are exposed. He had a projectable frame, quick wrists and a full set of raw tools that served him well until he failed to make adjustments at the upper levels.
But I’m with you. The first few times I watched him play I remember thinking ” Really? That’s Lastings Milledge?” I kept waiting for the ball to jump off his bat, or for him to track down a liner in the gap, run the bases well, something. Anything.
I think Ted William’s frozen head has a better ZIPS projection than Kotsay’s.
Comment by lololololpods — February 4, 2011 @ 4:33 pm
Yeah I actually can remember the quick wrists now. I could see BA comparing him to Sheffield or something. It’s unfortunate that he never learned any plate discipline, because maybe, had he done so he would be able to square up pitches to hit because pitchers didn’t wanna walk him…. Hence a sheff comparison maybe?
Comment by MetsKnicksRutgers — February 4, 2011 @ 4:37 pm
His full season debut in the SAL he looked like a star. He had 13 HR in 65 games, an OBP over .400, and slugged .580. He struggled on his initial move to the FSL, and didn’t hit for much power in his second shot there, but still had an .800 OPS as a 20 year old. He got promoted to AA for about 50 games and was hot pretty much the whole time he was there. They moved him to AAA to start the next season and he put up a .277/.388/.440 line as a 21 year old. He was always really young for the level and always managed to hit for average and get on base.
His walk rates were low early, but it took a huge jump when he got to AAA which was seen as a very good sign. His power fell off after he got out of A ball, but he was always one of those guys who scouts thought could pick it up later.
If you watch him now you’ll question the “5-tool” tag, but you can still see some of what the hype was about. He still has a really surprisingly quick bat and is really good at turning around inside fastballs. He’s still relatively fast, but not anywhere near the top level of the league. The thing that kills him is that he has pretty much zero baseball instincts. Can’t run the bases, can’t read balls off the bat, struggles to recognize breaking balls, etc.
“The thing that kills him is that he has pretty much zero baseball instincts.”
That’s exactly what it is. It seems improbable that a kid raised inside the game would have that issue, but whoop there it is. You can work as hard as you want on the mental part of the game, but in the end it has to come naturally.
While he certinally hasn’t lived up to the hype, we also have to remember he’s still only 25 (26 on April 6th). So hope isn’t all lost for him yet. He may or may not live up to expectations, but I still think he has time to turn it around.
A 345-360 wOBA would be good in center, but’s it’s average in a corner, and his defense has been brutal (-10 and -14 the past two years)
Comment by Brian Cartwright — February 4, 2011 @ 6:40 pm
Thanks for posting that, Brian. For the sake of my mysterious Ajejandro De Aza fetish, how do his MLEs stack up to those of Milledge? I know he’s had a couple of heartbreaking injuries in recent years (curious to know if those show up in the form of inconsistency) but back when De Aza was healthy, my scout’s eye saw a nice little 4th OF in the making.
If he is lacking fundamental’s & instincts he will not learn them from the Sox mgr. and coaches who are the worst at teaching them. Thank God last year and next Omar Vizquel is here, just ask Alexi Ramirez who to thank for getting that large contract.
But more seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player who had a truly bad eye at the plate for this long in the majors somehow develop the ability to do so. The only players who I can even think of who really improved in plate discipline were at least average at it to begin with, guys like Ortiz and Bautista.
Can anyone name guys who have? I don’t even have a comp in my head for “toolsy guy who learned how to take a walk after 3 years in MLB.” I know they have to be out there, but I literally cannot think of one that I’ve seen.
Jermaine Dye came to my mind right away, and he looked even more hopeless than Milledge – a 4.4% walk rate in his first three seasons, followed by 8.6%, 10.2%, and 8.4% in his next three. But given that Milledge now has twice as many career PAs as Dye did when the light went on, it’ll probably never happen for him.
“… It’s confidence originally instilled in him by Ozzie Guillen and reinforced over the past three years by the White Sox manager.
Guillen never downplayed Ramirez’s wide-ranging shortstop ability. In fact, Guillen, a darn good White Sox shortstop during his playing days, said Ramirez would make White Sox fans forget he ever played the position.
Credit was given by Ramirez to Guillen after the contract was announced.
“Ozzie trusts my decisions on the field,” Ramirez said. “That confidence instills a lot of confidence in me. Ozzie, having played the position, he knows that confidence is important at shortstop.”
As far as instincts, they can’t be taught. That’s why they are called instincts.
Milledge is a player who should have been left at least a full season, maybe a bit more, in high-A, AA and AAA each. With good coaching, he might have developed his tools into average defense skills and at least some plate discipline. Also, if I remember correctly, Milledge was the guy veterans had problem with. If he had stayed at least a year at every level, he might have been less cocky and more coachable.
Cano is another guy whose walk-rate jumped tremendously after being a career hacker, but with him, it was less an issue of ability to take a pitch than convincing him that it was a worthwhile thing to do. Apparently Cashman and the Yankees showed him historical correlations between plate discipline and salary, and then Cano hopped on board.
My concern over the Sox need to fill the 4th outfield spot (I like to refer to it as the Carlos Quentin 8th inning replacement), is not eased by this article. I haven’t seen much of Lastings to this point, and I am yet to hear anything positive regarding his defense. That is my biggest concern right now, it’s hard for me to fathom someone being just as bad as Q in the outfield.