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  1. ATT park increases triples, but decreases homers, so I think saying that triples are masking his power decline is a little unfair considering he is playing at a home run depressed park.

    Also, I think Melky has way more upside than signing Huff to a two deal, due to the fact that Melky is just 27 while Huff was around 34 when he was signed.

    The Giants should at least wait till after the All-Star Break to make a deal, especially after Panda comes back, because Melky would indeed have ALL of the bargaining power right now.

    Comment by Kevin Yost — May 16, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  2. It seems to early to say this season shows much of anything regarding Melky. It is certainly seems to early to say regression is right around the corner when Melky has mostly sustained his level of success from last season.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — May 16, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  3. From what I have observed of Melky so far this season, he is a GB/line drive hitter. Even his HR’s were on line drives that carried over a relatively low fence. He is a line drive machine though, and he hits them hard. Many of them get through the gaps or down the line much too quickly for OF’s to cut them off.

    I think he will likely end up with a .300-.320 BA with about the same % of XBH’s as last year, but with fewer HR’s.

    He is just entering what should be his prime years and appears to be in great shape. He has shown a strong work ethic with a no-nonsense attitude.

    I would be happy to see him signed to a 3 year contract extension and would not be unhappy for even a 5 year deal if he’s willing to give a discount for the security.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — May 16, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  4. About 4 and a half months because he will want more than 2/20 or 3/25.

    Comment by Romogenized Melk — May 16, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  5. This is an outstanding analysis in every way, Mr. Klaasen.
    In spite of everything you correctly say, the Giants will almost certainly buy high on Cabrera and sign him to a near superstar contract. It is in their genes.

    Comment by Baltar — May 16, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  6. I dont thnk the DeJesus comment is applicable. He was coming off a season ending injury with his health in question for the future.

    Comment by Sammy — May 16, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

  7. Screw Melky.

    Comment by Braves Fan — May 16, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  8. IMO, he looks like a different hitter than in his Yankee days. You did a pretty good job on the analytics, so I won’t repeat or dispute that side of things, but just from watching a lot of baseball, it looks like he’s guessing less and swinging at hitters’ pitches more… basically the things that good players do to get better. I think his BABIP will come down from .375 and with it his average, but he looks like a .300 hitter to me. In the current baseball economy I think a 2/20 or 3/25 would be a great contract for the Giants. Watch Sabean go all Jason Bay on him though.

    Comment by Trotter76 — May 16, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  9. This is what I really don’t like about the metrics. Instead of acknowledging that Melky is having another good year, the predictions are doom and gloom, he just sucked before so he will continue to suck, or the calculation is what the success means in extra cash.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — May 16, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  10. The Giants will most certainly pay more than 2/20 for Melky. This is a city so starved for offense, it’s difficult to differentiate the real from the counterfeit. When you’re playing alongside Emmanuel Burriss, Brandon Crawford, Ryan Theriot, Aubrey Huff, Hector Sanchez, Brett Pill, etc., You’re going to look like an all-star with merely above average production.

    Comment by soladoras — May 16, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  11. Lovin’ the Melk-man right now. He’s a nice fit for this club right now and he from what I’ve heard lots of his progression has to do with commitment to his conditioning. I also think emphasizing homers is poor fit for him as he is as pure line drive hitter as I’ve seen in long time and from his swing you can see his focus (at least right now) is to maintain this approach. Lastly, for all the free-Belters out there, you should check out his at-bats last night with runners in scoring position. Wild flailing, lack of pitch recognition. He’s looking a lot like a poor man’s Jack Cust without the power.

    Comment by fogbound — May 16, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  12. Barry Bonds was a line drive hitter too, they were just hit harder and farther than anyone else could hit them..

    I like Melky, he’s a good fit for the Giants and they’ve got no one in their system that could challenge him for a corner outfield spot anytime soon. That said, I’d imagine he’d have a hard time getting more than a 4 year deal from the Giants now or in the future.

    Comment by fergie348 — May 16, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  13. ” it seems that there is little reason to think that Melky is an all-new hitter. He maybe have changed something in his swing the last couple season to increase his balls in play,”

    It is things like this that make me wonder if when doing the analysis you ever look at film of the player. There is a LOT of reason to think that Melky is a different hitter, as in about thirty pounds missing. Whether he continues to stay in shape may be a question but the difference between “bad” Melky and “good” Melky is abundantly clear in looking at the condition of the player.

    Comment by Tom Greybalt — May 16, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  14. Exactly, even in last night’s Giants broadcast Kruk and Kuip were talking about how Melky worked so hard in the gym everyday. Maybe the guy deserves some credit for making himself a better player.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — May 16, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  15. This is the player we saw in Kansas City, and plenty of us “unreasonable” people who actually watched him play and apply some significance to the magical “age 27 year” did not believe regression was inevitable.

    Plenty of people obviously have either not watched him play at all, or have not watched him since he was 20 in a Yankees uniform. Then he was a physically soft contact hitter. Now he is damn strong, and really turns it loose because he has confidence in those elite contact skills.

    My only issue with extending Melky is that he is an average at best center fielder over the next few years. If they are comfortable with his offensive skillset at a corner, he’s a quite a bit better player, and is aging better than Frenchy, for example.

    Comment by Paul — May 16, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  16. This.

    Comment by Paul — May 16, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  17. If I were Melky’s agent, I would absolutely forbid him to sign a contract extension. He is going to get PAID in free agency and there appears to be minimal risk to finishing this season under his present contract.

    Just one example, the Dodgers would appear to be a perfect fit and they are going to be opening the wallets big time.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — May 16, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  18. Are any of you “watch da game”-ers even going to pretend to have connected the dots between weight loss and BABIP on groundballs? What an awful, ESPN-like thread.

    “Lost weight, had good results. Boom! Causation.”

    Comment by NS — May 16, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  19. This year David Ortiz lost weight. This has allowed him greater flexibility as a hitter. The result is that he has been able to go the other way to beat the shift. Consequently, he has excelled.

    Shove that causation where the sun don’t shine, NS.

    Comment by lemallard — May 16, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

  20. Melky Cabrera, the most controversial man in the world.

    Comment by RollingWave — May 17, 2012 @ 4:37 am

  21. Some of us realize that the studies that have been done on the connection are horribly flawed and that there has not yet been one to my knowledge that is remotely credible.

    On the flip side of Melky is John Bale, a craptastic lefthanded pitcher who was OK in Japan and signed by the Royals to turn into a starter. He was a bullpen guy for a year or two, then they tried to make him a starter. He gained something like 35 pounds in the offseason in order to have the stamina to make it through the season as a starter. This absurd logic is out of date, at last. So what did we learn from plugging Bale’s and Melky’s weight data into SAS? No effect! Yes, there is obviously a direct comparison to be made. No, we’ll just dismiss that the athletic weight paradigm has completely flipped over time. Or that Melky was an athlete who hit something like .380 in AAA at age 20. Or that John Bale was signed by pathetic org and should never have been in MLB in the first place.

    The Bale example is actually a better analogy to your point of view than the critique of it. Relying on a line of flawed, not even wrong studies that don’t compare like variables to stamp a point of view with some authority jumped the shark at least two years ago (Remember, “we’re not Peter Brand, we DO watch baseball!”?).

    Comment by Paul — May 17, 2012 @ 6:29 am

  22. I disagree. I think it’s unnecessarily pessimistic. The article doesn’t sufficiently acknowledge Melky’s age, and it seems far too skeptical of the idea that a player might suddenly put things together in his age-26 season (2011). It winks at the idea that there might be conditioning issues in Melky’s future because there were conditioning issues in his past, when in reality it’s more likely that he’s done what a lot of young players do: realize the value of proper conditioning after a lack of it contributed to a bad season. It also deliberately avoids getting into batted ball data, instead of addressing what a previous commenter mentioned (that Cabrera is a line-drive hitter who can be expected to post above average BABIPs, something that is even more true because of Cabrera’s speed).

    Giants beat reporters are definitely overvaluing Cabrera right now — one recent suggestion to give him a Rowand contract (5/$60) made me throw up in my mouth. But I think 4/$44 or around there seems pretty reasonable. The Giants have very little outfield depth in the minors, and Cabrera’s skillset (line drive hitter, good speed on the bases) and durability make him a very good fit for this team. I’m not sure if this article was written as a direct response to some of the overvaluing that Giants fans and writers have been doing, but I think the analysis provided here is pretty one-sided and generally off base. I’d wait longer to start contract talks — there’s just no sense in signing a deal this early in the year — but I hope the Giants do go after him and resign him.

    (Note: Klaassen, I apologize if this sounds Hater-esque. I respect your work and generally like your pieces quite a bit. I just strongly disagree with your assessment and methodology here.)

    Comment by Graham — May 17, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  23. I’m confused by the thread. Even best case (assuming Melky won’t regress and can sustain a .340ish BABIP long term), he is a corner outfielder without great defense, without great OBP (.305 last year got him to .339 OBP) and without great power. While his offensive numbers might be good for a CF, they sound maybe a little above league average for a position like LF where teams typically need to get a lot of offense. While he might be better than whatever else the Giants currently have, that argues for playing him, not rushing to overpay him for a skill set that is not that remarkable and eminently replaceable.

    Comment by Bob Zaffrann — May 17, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  24. so when you say just entering his prime, you mean just ending his prime right? a hitter’s prime is 25-28, according to a series of really great articles on here. you should check them out. also for the above comment, his defense in center is not average at best. it is bad at best, most likely very bad, and possibly mind numbingly awful. but in the corners he should be alright.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — May 17, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  25. And in considering Melky’s likelihood of regression, it may be worthwhile to check out the table in Bradley Woodrum’s recent post about Fielding Independent wOBA (“Marlon Byrd, Mike Moustakas De-Luck’d”). Melky’s FI wOBA is .327, the same as the Astros’ Brian Bogusevic. Never heard of him? Me neither. He is a 28 year old RF with a 2012 slash line of .234/.333/.336 . . . Just sayin’

    Comment by Bob Zaffrann — May 17, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  26. Based on what I’ve seen this year, and I’ve watched most of the Giants games, Melky covers both R and L field very well, not all that easy to do in AT&T Park. He has shown a very strong arm that is more accurate than Nate Schierholtz. He could play CF in a pinch. I just think he’s a versatile defensive OF who knows what he is capable of at the plate, plays within himself and does it very well. He does not have a significant L-R split so is equally valuable against both R and L handed pitching.

    The west coast ballparks tend to neutralize power, and to discourage power hitters from signing FA contracts. A guy like Melky with gap power and some speed becomes more valuable in that setting.

    Of course, Melky has a value and it’s not going to be as high as, the Matt Kemps or Justin Uptons or even Andrew McCutchen’s of the world, but he has a value and is likely to hold it for several years.

    I would welcome a reasonably priced contract in the 3-5 year range.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — May 17, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  27. Wow! What a great comp! Their careers have been so similar! I should have thought of that myself(slaps knee).

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — May 17, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  28. “He maybe have changed something in his swing the last couple season to increase his balls in play”

    Melky lost a bunch of weight and retooled his swing and approach before 2011, as did Francoeur. On Melky’s walks last year, most pitchers weren’t willing to work around him to get to Gordon or Butler in the 3-hole.

    Comment by jim fetterolf — May 17, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  29. That is ridiculous! There are lots of good hitters who don’t even get to the majors until age 23 or 24 and many hitters who continue to get better into their early 30′s. There is abundant evidence that Melky is entering the peak years of his career. A 3-5 year contract at a reasonable price is a low risk bet.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — May 17, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  30. Since you seem to be ignoring it, the point is not that their career paths have been similar. The point is that, if Melky does regress to his career BABIP over the next four years, the Giants would get similar offensive production from any number of AAAA players that would gladly play for less than $500,000/yr. I’m sure that Bogusevic (and many others like him) have had stretches of 150 plate appearances over their careers where they have posted .375 BABIP, and if those were the only plate appearances you’d seen of them, you probably have been as high on them as you are on Melky now.

    Comment by Bob Zaffrann — May 17, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  31. I have seen them and been highly critical of them. Bradbury’s analysis is the right approach in my opinion, and his peak years were later. The curves alone on some of the age analyses on FG should tell you there are huge sampling problems.

    Comment by Paul — May 17, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  32. His numbers might go up when there’s a 2-3-4 of him and Sandoval and Posey again though. He seems to be the player he was in 2011 for now so my guess is it was the conditioning.

    Comment by al — May 17, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  33. It doesn’t make sense to comp Melky to a lousy hitter like this, is what DrB is noting, I believe.

    And by comparing Melky to Brian’s poor batting line, that is basically what you are doing, but just don’t realize it.

    However, you make a great point, just did poorly in the execution.

    It is true that his BABIP is way too high. It WILL come down. But to what?

    Simple math shows dropping his numbers by 72, resulting in a batting line of .290/.337/.447/.784, and since he’s playing LF, that is the apt comparison and NL LF in 2012 are hitting .265/.332/.414/.745. So he is better than the average LF offensively, even if his BABIP goes down.

    His defense has not been so good there, but he’s been above average offensively, so he’s around an average LF, production-wise, adjusted for probably production, not actual production.

    So yes, to your point, he is an average player, but apparently not much of a saber, because in saber-speak, an average player is actually very valuable, roughly $10M per season, and not easily replaceable (hence replacement level players having 0 WAR not the 2 WAR an average player has).

    The problem most people have with analyzing the value of a player is that they take it only in the context of overall plus they are not really aware what an average player is. You denigrate his OBP, but the average NL LF has an OBP of approximately that. You denigrate his power, yet his ISO is basically that of the average LF. Yet I agree, you don’t win with that.

    What most people don’t realize is that you don’t need a lineup full of the prototypical good player that everybody and their grandmother wants. Look through the lineups of most teams, there are not good hitters in every spot. Everyone has holes. So putting down a player just because he’s not “good” isn’t good analysis. It also don’t help that you don’t know what good is, at least in terms of what most people here knows, where zero is the replacement level player.

    It also don’t help that most people ignore the context of the team situation. You hint at it by saying that SF could benefit, but lack specifics, which would help drive it home.

    People know the Giants have good pitching but what they don’t realize is that they have GREAT defense – pitching and fielding – and has been the only team in the top 3 in RA the past three seasons (and look to make it 4). When pitching/fielding is that great, you can be a below average team offensively and still win enough to likely win your division (90+ wins). When you have an average offense, you win 95+ games.

    So yeah, Melky is probably about average as a player, but offensively he is above average and the Giants can use that because they already have two great hitters on the team, Posey and Sandoval. Melky by himself is no big shakes, I agree, but with Posey and Sandoval, now the offense starts to look pretty good.

    But I agree with you that the numbers being thrown around is too much. He’s about average so that by Fangraphs standards mean $10M per year. I think Melky appreciates being appreciated, likes the team, so I think 3 yars, $30M would be around the right amount, it is not like he’s had a long career of hitting well, but he has been good the past two seasons, and other teams will be like the sabers here, frothing over he did so poorly before, they are not going to buy high. So maybe he gets something more like Cespedes 4 year/$36M but somewhere in the $40M-ish range.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — May 25, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  34. Here again you are comparing Melky to this guy.

    Brian is 28 and still struggling, never showing much strong, sustained performance. As you noted, he was lucky in 2011.

    Melky however, has exhibited strong contact rates all his career, showing the capability to have a high BA, from a young age, and just needed development to get that skill to be more productive. Him batting .300 is not unusual, because he has the speed to enable it. He just finally put it together in 2011 and has continued it into 2012.

    While his good hitting now is inconsistent with his early career struggles, it is not inconsistent with his ability to avoid strikeouts and to take a walk when he can. While it would be nicer if he were better at taking walks, he at least has the ability to maintain a high BA, based on his ability to avoid strikeouts and his speed.

    Brian has shown no ability, even in the minors, of avoiding the strikeouts. It is not surprising that it got even worse up in the majors.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — May 25, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  35. Nice article analyzing this situation. Melking it is just par for the course.

    This is the natural fan irrational exuberance when a player is doing really well, better than expected. Still, even if he were to regress a lot, he would still be very valuable to the Giants.

    First, I would note that 2011 was not the first time he had an ISO in that range. In 2009 he already starting to figure some things out at age 24, with a 142 ISO. Then I think the trade did something to his head, his motivation, his conditioning, and he ended up with a poor overall season. If you skip over that season, then 2011 would look like the continuation of a player finally figuring things out at the major league level, after many years and ABs, with his 164 ISO. He was in the 110-ish range previously.

    And that’s pretty good performance, as the average LF in AL had 142 ISO in 2011, average LF in NL has 154 ISO so far in 2012.

    Also, he has exhibited that level of ISO previously in the minors, in his earliest experiences, when playing against competition that were more at his level of development, roughly 140-150 ISO, so there was always the possibility that once his development catches up with the league that he would hit for similar levels of power.

    Second, you mentioned his home cooking but in 2011 and 2012, it was all road. In 2010, .742 OPS, .313 BABIP, 53 AB/HR, 29% XBH at home, .871 OPS, .351 BABIP, 38 AB/HR, 37% XBH on road. In 2011, .812 OPS, .363 BABIP, no HR, 28% XBH, but on the road, 1.069 OPS, .440 BABIP, 34 AB/HR, 35% XBH. His home numbers really held him back. If he could figure out how to hit at home like he does on the road, he’ld be a a superstar.

    I agree though that regression to BABIP will bring him down. However, I think that what he can provide is needed by the Giants, even with regression, and hopefully they can sign him to a fair contract to both sides.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — May 27, 2012 @ 2:04 am

  36. And yeah – John Sterling’s radio call for when he hit a home run with the Yankees was: “The Melk-man delivers!”

    Comment by BronxBomber — May 28, 2012 @ 4:12 am

  37. What if his BABIP does not come down. What if he continues to hit at an awesome pace, and even finishes the season with a better second half than the first half? What is his value then? What if he again gets over 200 hits? What if he gets over 220 hits? Does he get Ichiro money? Also I do not see the guy playing left field that most in here are reporting. He seems to be an excellent fielder. He gets good jumps on the ball, and gets to everything. His arm for a left fielder is both powerful and exceptionally accurate. He has a nice consistent swing from both sides of the plate and plays hard. It would be good for him to master the language spoken in the USA as the primary language a bit better, but as long as he plays the way he is playing for the giants, he can continue to use Sergio Romo as his interpreter. Melky is much more valuabe than Rowand, as Melky does not have an automatic out pitch. Once the N.L. west figured out that Rowand could not hit the outside slider, he was done for. Melky is a line drive hitting machine, and has become a fan favorite. The longer he sustains his BABIP, the more expensive he will be for next year. He could become a dodger and they could have a re-signed ethier in right, Kemp in Center, and Melky in left, with Ramirez at short, and a few new free agent signings. We cannot let that happen. 4 years for 44 seems reasonable. Of course in the off season the giants would not go 2 for 26, for Beltran. But Melky is not yet 28. I like the idea of Melky being a stable part of the giants lineup thru 2016, I would like to see his fielding metrics for 2012.

    Comment by bradley emden — August 9, 2012 @ 4:31 am

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