Did you know the FanGraphs leaderboards — which already no doubt consume the majority of your time like they do mine — also carry updated minor league data? Yeah, right here:
Under the Leaders tab, yo!
Let us take a moment, you and I, to delve into the numbers of my favorite of the minor leagues, the International League.
I think it’s important to point out here that a high hitter BABIP in the minor league should not detract from our impressions here as much as it otherwise would in the major leagues. When a player is substantially better than their league, they can reasonably maintain BABIPs over .300 and even over .350 on occasion as they mash line drives incessantly. In the majors, this may translate into a lower BABIP, but still relatively good production.
Also, in the recent FanGraphs Phoenix retreat, FanGraphs master editor Dave Cameron remarked to me under a silvered Arizona moon — or in the car or something — that high walk rates in the minors do not necessarily translate into high walk rates in the majors. Consider, for instance, the case of catcher Dioner Navarro, who holds an impressive .350 OBP in the minor leagues, largely on the merit of his walk capabilities, but floundered with a .300 OBP (and lack-luster defensive skills) in the majors.
The International League numbers, here they are!
- • Most of the top 10 hitters in the IL are all guys we might classify as Quad-A hitters. I wrote about the Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta back in the offseason, suggesting he would develop that Quad-A designation if he returned to the minors to start the season and then mashed. Well, he’s in the minors, mashing, and since his MLB struggles largely concerned breaking pitches, it will be hard for him to shake that Quad-A designation here on out. I should imagine the Indians will tire of Casey Kotchman groundouts (74 wRC+) which might open a door for a LaPorta renaissance, but who can delve into a GM’s mind?
- • Speaking of opening doors, Mr. Steve Pearce — here listed with the Yankees — is now on the Orioles major league roster. He was acquired for cash from the Yankees (because apparently the Yankees needed cash), and now he has a shot at adding to his career 530 PA and 77 wRC+. Pearce hit 11 homers and 15 doubles in his IL time, and his walk rate was not outlierish, so there’s reason to think he can translate some of his numbers to the MLB.
- • I am the founder of the Official Secret Dan Johnson Fan Club, so it is a little hard for me to point out his crazy high walk rate. It should not be a detractor of his accomplishments in the IL so far (14 homers, 11 doubles, and 1 triple), but it should not really add to what we would expect from him in the majors. His minor league walk rate is at 19% now, but his major league rate is around 13%. I predict he would be near 13% in the majors if he returns to the MLB — not that anyone else would suggest anything different.
- • Hey there Jeff Francis! The recently-opted-out Francis was pitching quite well in the IL, and he is moments away from potentially replacing another soft-tossing lefty in Jamie Moyer. ‘Twere I the Rockies, I would be nervous about adding a starter with an 85 mph fastball, but hey, they’ve got a 4.89 FIP in their rotation right now, so it can’t get any worse, amirite!?
- • Dylan Axelrod of the White Sox has a killer strikeout-rate/walk-rate combo. And in his limited innings in the majors, he has 3.98 SIERA and a 21% K-rate. That’s some nifty pitching depth there.
- • The youngest guy at the top of the leaderboard, Rays prospect Chris Archer, has been on a tear since his first couple of starts. Archer had a 6-walk and a 5-walk start in the early part of the season, but he’s zoned in since then and even recently had a 12-strikeout game. I am just glad I was able to grab him back in my Ottoneu league without anyone else snatching him away first.
- • The 24-year-old Jeff Locke has not pitched any innings in the majors yet, but the No. 9 Pirates top prospect has some impressive minor league numbers right now. He plunked two guys in his most recent start, but the strikeouts keep coming. (game log)
There’s a lot of stories here, but not enough internet to fit them all onto. :(