Jesus Montero: Cabrera, Konerko, or Karim Garcia?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve expressed an amount of skepticism relating to Jesus Montero‘s status as an elite prospect. Essentially, my argument has been that since Montero is likely to be the kind of player who produces all of his value at the plate, he’s going to have to develop into a monster hitter to justify the expectations placed upon him. For bat-only players, the offensive bar to become a superstar is extremely high, so Montero would have to become one of the very best hitters in baseball to be a truly elite player.

The counterpoint has usually been that Montero is going to become one of those hitters, with scouts comparing his offensive profile to Mike Piazza and Miguel Cabrera, among others. He’s extremely strong, he’s got pretty good plate coverage, and he’s held his own in the minors while being pushed aggressively up through the minor leagues. Several of the game’s best hitters had very similar development paths, and it’s clear that Montero could develop into that kind of offensive force. Given what the Mariners paid to get him, they’re clearly hoping for that outcome.

Still, Cabrera and Piazza are Montero’s ceiling – the best possible outcome if he continues to develop, stays healthy, and maximizes his physical abilities – but projecting a player solely based on upside will often lead you astray. In evaluating Montero as an offensive prospect, we need to not only know what his ceiling would be, but the range of potential outcomes and the likelihood of each one coming to pass. To find a more complete picture of what a Montero-style hitting prospect usually turns into, we turn to history and the lessons of players who were lauded in similar ways as Montero is now.

While Montero’s minor league performances have been good and sometimes great, it’s his scouting reports that have established him as a monster prospect. So, instead of pulling in data on players who hit similarly in the minors, we’re better off developing a list of historical comparisons based on guys that were seen as future stars through the eyes of scouts that covered them. For that, we turn to Baseball America’s All-Time Top 100 list, which serves as a valuable reference to remind us of how prospects have panned out throughout history.

The lists go back to 1990, giving us essentially 20 years of prospect evaluations, a more than adequate timeframe to find a solid sample of players who were viewed in their time as Montero is now. From the BA rankings, I compiled a list of 22 guys who fit a similar mold as Montero – top 10 prospect, reached Triple-A around age 20 or 21, and showed significant power during their time in the minors.

There were some judgment calls to be made on which guys made the list of comparable players and which didn’t. Cliff Floyd, for instance, was rated the best prospect in baseball in 1994, but that was based more on his athleticism and skills as a five-tool guy than as an elite hitting prospect – he showed minimal power at high levels during the early part of his career. Since I was trying to limit the list to guys whose value was primarily based on what they could do offensively, Floyd was left off the list, as were other highly rated youngsters (for example, Joel Guzman, Jeffrey Hammonds, Corey Patterson, Ruben Rivera, Ruben Mateo, and Colby Rasmus) who didn’t really fit the elite-hitter model of a top prospect, or who just had a very different skillset than Montero (Jeremy Hermida, Casey Kotchman, and Nick Johnson, for instance). I wanted the list to represent players rated as elite projectable hitting prospects through the years, as best as I could, and including those types of players on a list of comps for Montero doesn’t really seem to help us understand what he might become as a hitter.

For this reason, I also excluded guys who were several years older and more developed than Montero (J.D. Drew, Alex Gordon, Pat Burrell, and Mark Teixeira) when they were rated as elite offensive prospects.

To the 22 guys who fit the profile, I added Piazza and Miguel Cabrera, since they are so often referenced in regards to Montero’s future. That gives us 24 elite young hitting prospects with fairly similar profiles to Montero. If you disagree with some of my selections, that’s fine, as there’s obviously subjectivity in the decision making process. You can use the custom player list and the link to BA’s historical rankings to add or subtract any players you wish, and then easily see what kind of difference it makes in the final results.

I think most reasonable list of comps will return similar conclusions, but for reference, here’s my list, along with their career hitting stats:

Name PA BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wRC+
Manny Ramirez 9774 13.6% 18.5% 0.273 0.312 0.411 0.585 152
Alex Rodriguez 10634 11.0% 18.0% 0.265 0.302 0.386 0.567 148
Miguel Cabrera 5777 11.1% 17.5% 0.239 0.317 0.395 0.555 146
Chipper Jones 10166 14.3% 13.4% 0.228 0.304 0.402 0.533 143
Prince Fielder 4210 13.4% 18.5% 0.257 0.282 0.390 0.540 141
Carlos Delgado 8657 12.8% 20.2% 0.266 0.280 0.383 0.546 135
Mike Piazza 7745 9.8% 14.4% 0.237 0.308 0.377 0.545 140
Vladimir Guerrero 9059 8.1% 10.9% 0.235 0.318 0.379 0.553 136
Juan Gonzalez 7155 6.4% 17.8% 0.265 0.295 0.343 0.561 128
Paul Konerko 8163 9.9% 14.5% 0.218 0.282 0.358 0.500 121
Shawn Green 7963 9.3% 16.5% 0.212 0.283 0.355 0.494 119
Justin Upton 2402 10.1% 23.9% 0.211 0.277 0.357 0.487 119
Aramis Ramirez 6958 7.2% 13.8% 0.215 0.284 0.342 0.500 114
Ben Grieve 3743 12.4% 20.9% 0.173 0.269 0.367 0.442 114
Andruw Jones 8395 10.3% 20.0% 0.232 0.256 0.339 0.488 112
Eric Chavez 5580 10.4% 17.1% 0.208 0.267 0.342 0.474 112
Jay Bruce 2076 9.6% 23.1% 0.217 0.256 0.331 0.474 109
Adrian Beltre 8043 6.8% 15.2% 0.192 0.276 0.329 0.469 109
Vernon Wells 6492 6.6% 13.1% 0.195 0.274 0.323 0.469 105
Hank Blalock 3928 8.0% 18.3% 0.194 0.269 0.329 0.463 100
B.J. Upton 3430 11.2% 24.8% 0.159 0.257 0.342 0.416 110
Delmon Young 2967 4.2% 17.3% 0.140 0.288 0.321 0.428 97
Karim Garcia 1561 5.2% 21.1% 0.183 0.241 0.279 0.424 76
Andy Marte 924 7.3% 19.2% 0.140 0.218 0.277 0.358 64

The success rate here is obviously pretty good. Of these 24 players, I think you could reasonably argue that nine of them turned into elite hitters, all posting a career wRC+ of 128 or higher, and regularly beating that during their primes. That’s nearly 40 percent of the list, and these are the types of hitters that scouts clearly have in mind when they talk about what Montero could be.

However, we can’t ignore the other 15 guys who were also deemed to be top-notch prospects and haven’t turned into that kind of impact offensive bat. I know its tempting to look back at guys like Andy Marte, Karim Garcia, and Delmon Young as just examples of players who were overrated prospects, but they all had track records to support the strong scouting reports as they rose through the minors. They were young for their leagues, they showed the ability to drive the baseball, and expectations were that they would develop into All-Star caliber players. Instead, they were all replacement level scrubs, though Young still has some time left to try and show that he could just be a late bloomer.

Beyond those three busts, however, there’s 15 guys who represent perhaps a more realistic median projection for Montero – Upton and Bruce’s best days are expected to be ahead of them, so they’ll push the overall levels of this group up a bit (and Upton may very well be headed for tier one himself), so you’re probably best off viewing Montero’s median expected production towards the higher side of this second tier. Ranging from Paul Konerko (121 wRC+) and Shawn Green (119 wRC+) on the high side to Hank Blalock (100 wRC+) and Vernon Wells (105 wRC+) on the low side, these guys all turned into good-but-not-great hitters, and it mostly had to do with their ability to control the strike zone.

For the top nine guys on the list, the median walk rate was 11.1% and the median strikeout rate was 17.8%. For the 15 guys in the middle, the walk rate falls to just 9.8%, though the strikeout rate is almost exactly the same, coming in at 17.7%. A significant part of the difference beween the elite hitters and the good hitters isn’t the ability to put the bat on the ball, but in how well they’re able to adapt to pitchers throwing them pitches out of the zone. Cabrera, for instance, wasn’t the most patient hitter in the minors either, drawing just 24 unintentional walks in 303 plate appearances during his last stop in the minors, but as pitchers started giving him fewer pitches to hit, he’s developed into a guy who is willing to take first base if it’s offered.

Adrian Beltre and Aramis Ramirez have never made that adjustment, and it has limited their overall offensive output throughout their careers. Even Konerko, the best hitter of this second tier group, didn’t really begin to accept the base on balls until age 28 – not coincidentally, the second half of his career has been a lot better than the first half was. In fact, as a similarly-sized, right-handed converted catcher, Konerko might be the single best comparison for Montero’s expected career output of any player in the game today.

The upside for Montero to be a Cabrera, Piazza, or Fielder is real. However, history suggests that it is not the only path, or even the most likely one, for Montero to take. There have been a lot of prospects who received similar accolades for their offensive potential who have handled the upper levels of the minors at young ages as well. We’ve identified two dozen of them here, and the median slash line from this group was .281/.349/.491, good for a 117 wRC+.

That’s a nice hitter, but it’s not the kind of bat you can build a franchise around. For Montero to reach the upper tier, he’s simply going to have to show a bit more selectivity at the plate, and adapt to facing a good number of pitches out of the zone. If he makes that leap and improves his command of the strike zone, he could be a monster. But we need to recognize that it’s still an if, not a when. Some guys never figure that out, and if Montero doesn’t either, he’ll settle in as a good hitter rather than a great one.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Mario Mendoza of posters
Guest
Mario Mendoza of posters
4 years 7 months ago

I’d trade Pineda for any of those in their rookie season, except maybe the bottom 3. Pretty good odds.

You say Montero’s not a player to build a franchise around, but neither is Pineda.

j6takish
Guest
j6takish
4 years 7 months ago

Are you implying that Montero is not a First Ballot HoFer? Pshhh, Anti Yankee Bias

A Yankee Fan
Guest
A Yankee Fan
4 years 7 months ago

Jesus Montero is not a Yankee.

*shudder*

Eric Wedge
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Eric Wedge
4 years 7 months ago

I’m going to teach Montero to be aggressive. We didn’t trade for him to take walks, we want him to swing the bat and hit the damn ball out. With him under my wing, I’m hoping he’ll turn in to a Peguero type hitter, huge power and aggressive swings. Aggressive.

TribeFanInNC
Guest
TribeFanInNC
4 years 7 months ago

…and gritty! Aggressive and gritty!

dan woytek
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

When you say “Peguero” I assume you are talking about “Peggy”

mo2119
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mo2119
4 years 7 months ago

No not Peguero. I don’t want him to turn into a 150+ K per season guy no thanks

JD
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JD
4 years 7 months ago

Miguel Olivo?

Fredchuckdave
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Still, Albert Pujols’ ceiling is Babe Ruth, the best possible outcome if he stays healthy.

Phrozen
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Phrozen
4 years 7 months ago

Babe Ruth isn’t that healthy lately. His last 80 seasons have been pretty poor, by any measure.

ben
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ben
4 years 7 months ago

If Pujols’s ceiling is Babe Ruth I can’t wait to see him pitch a shutout.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
4 years 7 months ago

Would you be happy if he turned into Paul Konerko?

DSC
Guest
DSC
4 years 7 months ago

What would Konerko think, or his wife?

Ben
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Ben
4 years 7 months ago

I’d suspect the obvious intake of Polyjuice Potion to wear off with time.

cowdisciple
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cowdisciple
4 years 7 months ago

I’d suspect the obvious intake of PolyjuicePauliejuice Potion to wear off with time.

FTFY.

Anon
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Anon
4 years 7 months ago

Seeing that list of comparables makes this deal look good for Seattle.

Pineda is a young pitcher with high value (and high volatility). I’d like to see a list of comparables for him, but I doubt it looks as good as Montero’s.

Avi
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Avi
4 years 7 months ago

Great point. A list made for Pineda might look like this: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Rick Ankiel, Mark Mulder, Ben Sheets..

GrittleTooth
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GrittleTooth
4 years 7 months ago

If your list only included the worst possible outcomes

bstar
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bstar
4 years 7 months ago

Or Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, and CC Sabathia.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

… or Francisco Liriano to split the difference.

Shawn
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Shawn
4 years 7 months ago

I think the similarity score on baseball-reference goes Beckett, Halladay, McDowell and then it starts to go all over the place.

rbt
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rbt
4 years 7 months ago

I have a real problem with the Miguel Cabrera comp. At age 21 Cabrera was hitting 33 homers in the majors, not “holding his own” in AAA as Montero was.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 7 months ago

Yup, agree. Though I think he included the comp. only because it is one that has been made by scouts/yankees fans/cannot really be sure where it originated.

Andrew
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Andrew
4 years 7 months ago

I think an important piece here though is that if Montero manages to spend even half of the time at catcher over the next 4-5 years, his value will skyrocket past simply his wrc+. A Paul Konerko type bat playing 80 games a year at catcher is very valuable when compared against all of the other guys (besides Piazza) who manned corner positions.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
4 years 7 months ago

But the problem is that most people don’t expect him to spend half of the time at catcher over the next 4-5 years. He was a bad defensive catcher in his late teens, and he hasn’t progressed over the last few years. It’s just not in the cards for him to be a passable catcher.

Dave
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Dave
4 years 7 months ago

Unless you balance Montero behind the plate with, say, Figgins at DH (don’t misunderestimate Wedge…). Then the M’s are no better off.

ToddM
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ToddM
4 years 7 months ago

I really want to ‘misunderestimate’ someone, even though I don’t know what that is.

Johnny Slick
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Johnny Slick
4 years 7 months ago

There was an interesting point getting thrown around on the BBTF page about how Bill James (I know, I know) has stated that we really oughtn’t “expect” young players to continually improve until they’re 27, period. Some guys, it seems, do improve but some guys get worse and they just disappear and as such don’t appear in comps like this, necessarily. And some guys just kind of stay the same; in Konerko’s case maybe they “get it” later on in their career but it’s just as likely, perhaps, that they eventually turn into Cory Snyder when their bat speed breaks down.

So I guess given that we have a kid with a nice minor league pedigree that should make him a 110-115 OPS+ hitter next year and a major-league ready #3 or #4 SP who were traded for a potential #1/#2 starter who badly needs a 3rd pitch and a 18 year old kid with a very nice fastball. It’s a really interesting trade in that there are so many variables, but I’m getting less and less comfortable projecting much out of any of these guys as time goes on.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 7 months ago

Bingo, I’m pretty heavily against the attitude seem so often of “he’s young therefore he has to improve”. Really it’s just that he’s more likely to improve than not.

ValueArb
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ValueArb
4 years 7 months ago

Is it just a communication problem then? Because I think there isn’t any attitude that “he’s young, so he has to improve”, it’s more that “he’s young, he has a good chance of improving”. You think it to be slightly better than a coin flip, but my guess is that 21-24 year olds improve closer to 70% of the time.

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 7 months ago

“. You think it to be slightly better than a coin flip, but my guess is that 21-24 year olds improve closer to 70% of the time.”

My guess would be that many of the ones who don’t improve don’t make it to the Majors or don’t stay up there very long.

Avi
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Avi
4 years 7 months ago

I’m pretty sure BJ Upton and Vernon Wells were highly regarded in part because their athleticism. Uton was a SS and Wells a CF. They also stole bases in the minors. Delmon Young was also regarded as an athlete.

Bookbook
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Bookbook
4 years 7 months ago

It’s a bit amusing to see ARod comped to Montero. Two vastly different kinds of top prospects – he was more five tool than power/hitting I imagine.

Ryan
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

I think everyone here is kind of skewing their valuation of Montero’s potential based on their initial reaction to some of these player’s names when that kind of comparison isn’t merited.

For instance; trading Michael Pineda for a just-entering-the-league B.J. Upton would not be a bad trade, but that’s because Upton is a *centerfielder*. You put Upton’s batting #’s at DH and it’s a disaster.

Even if Montero reaches the potential of a Piazza or a Cabrera (much more apt comparisons based on the inept fielding traits) he STILL has to PLAY THOSE POSITIONS if he wants to be as valuable as those players. Even a Piazza who could only DH is not a superstar player.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 7 months ago

If you can get 3 or 3.5 WAR out of your DH spot, you are doing very well and better than most teams.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
4 years 7 months ago

“Even a Piazza who could only DH is not a superstar player.”

I think you’ve forgotten how great he was as a hitter in his prime. 362/431/638 is a superstar’s batting line, whether it’s a catcher, centerfielder or DH.

Factor in that he’d be playing about 10% more if he wasn’t catching, and he wouldn’t be dinged up as much, and I think he’s a superstar even as a DH.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 7 months ago

Piazza’s not a superstar if he DHs? If you hit .362 with 40 HR one year and post 4 career 1.000+ OPS seasons, my question has always been, ‘What would Piazza’s numbers have looked like if he hadnt played catcher?’

bstar
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bstar
4 years 7 months ago

^^oops. Didnt see the post before me.

GrittleTooth
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GrittleTooth
4 years 7 months ago

Great article. Always nice to read a well researched, fact based piece. I initially thought the Yanks got the better end of this deal, but after seeing this list of comps my opinion has changed some. In today’s offense depressed MLB, I’ll gladly trade a Pineda for realistic shot at Adrian Beltre to Mike Piazza type production. (Beltre to Piazza represents the middle 50% of the comp. pool of players).

Short
Guest
Short
4 years 7 months ago

I like that Montero has maintained 50-60 points of isolated patience (OBP-AVG) at every stop so far, including his short stint in the majors. Depending how his power develops the midrange of this list seems pretty reachable. He’ll either need to exceed that level, or stick at catcher to be a real star.

So I’d love to see the list of comps for Pineda. (Man we’re demanding!) I have a feeling given the big guy’s issues pitching to lefties that he’ll have a similar range, depending on whether he can master the change and/or curve and maintain his velocity and stay healthy. Difference being, I’m a lot more confident that he’ll be at least a good major league pitcher…3-4 WAR consistently…than I am Montero will pan out as a 3-4 WAR player.

Barry Bonds
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Barry Bonds
4 years 7 months ago

My advice for the young fella’: start taking juice and you’ll be right.

Mario Mendoza of posters
Guest
Mario Mendoza of posters
4 years 7 months ago

The whole list save the bottom 3 is offensively gifted, regardless of postion.

If DH is so easy to fill with a hitter better than BJ Upton, it’s a wonder the Mariners didn’t have one last year.

Or the A’s.

Or the O’s.

Or the Angels.

Or the Rays.

Or the Twins.

Or the White Sox.

Or the Yankees.

Charlotte
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Charlotte
4 years 7 months ago

Yes, you have nimbly rebutted Cameron’s argument that Jesus Montero is an utterly replaceable spare part who isn’t even worth carrying on a roster.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 7 months ago

I’d be pretty happy if Konerko were my DH

brian
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brian
4 years 7 months ago

Who is Karim Garcia?

Pedro Martinez
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Pedro Martinez
4 years 7 months ago

beat me to it, brian

Jeff K
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Jeff K
4 years 7 months ago

Really Pedro? You hit him during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, which caused Don Zimmer to charge you like an angry bull a half an inning later. How could you forget Karim Garcia?

Matt C
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Matt C
4 years 7 months ago

Unfortunately as a Tigers fan I know who he is just because they traded Luis Gonzalez to the Diamondbacks for him.

Andreas
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Andreas
4 years 7 months ago

Dave, it never seems to me that you ever approach things from the more positive side. Why can’t you just look at a player like Montero and write about what he does GOOD and what he has the potential to be, instead of just looking at the bad side of things? I never argue with your analysis because it’s usually spot on, but it does kind of bug me when you choose to look more on the negative side of things.

Daven
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

I’d guess he probably does it because most every writer in the popular sports media talks of nothing but the positive side of such prospects as Montero. Few look in detail at what might go wrong. So Dave provides that angle, which unfortunately is usually the correct one as most high end prospects don’t pan out anywhere near what the hype would have you believe.

CircleChange11
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

It bothers me some that Montero would be considered a bust if he *only* has a CWS-Version Konerko performance.

No, it’s not a franchise player, but it’s still a valuable bat, even at DH. A 2-3 WAR 1B/DH is a pretty good hitter.

To get such a performance for cheap rather than 15M/y is also a big bonus.

I also agree with the idea that a young hitter may not necessarily improve each year, but may just be consistently good each year. There’s always the possibility of a “breakout” season with BABIP and/or HR/FB luck.

Kinda reminds me of the expectations of Jay Bruce, although maybe not as extreme.

Bin
Guest
Bin
4 years 7 months ago

Well, when you’re rated as a top 5 prospect and traded for a quality rookie arm, 2-3 WAR from DH just won’t do.

Socal Baseball
Guest
Socal Baseball
4 years 7 months ago

When your team is desperate for any sort of offense and doesn’t have many alternatives or at least efficient alternatives to getting to great bats to play at any position, then yeah 2-3 WAR from a DH who is cost controlled should do well.

If the money is the same, smart agents are going to steer their clients away from Safeco or demand more money. It has a reputation like Petco and arguably killed Beltre’s chance at the HOF

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 7 months ago

Honest question: How many top 5 prospects average 3 WAR / year as a ML player? Is it a high percentage?

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

Then basically he’s set up for failure.

Jay Bruce was the #1 prospect and has produced at the 3WAR/y average for his 1st 4 seasons, AND that includes a really good defensive season.

I’d hate to see the expectations for Bryce Harper.

From 2009-2011, there have been 7 players average 40+ batting runs/season (about what Montero would need to get to average 4WAR/y).

The 7 players are …

1. Pujols
2. Cabrera
3. Votto
4. Fielder
5. Braun
6. Gonzales
7. Bautista

David Ortiz was a 4 WAR DH in 2011 with a line of .309/.398/.554 (.405 wOBA).

This is REALY the expectation for Montero to meet or be considered a bust?

In 2010, Ortiz was a 3 WAR DH with a wOBA of .381 (.270/.370/.529).

A 3 WAR DH is a good hitter. Let’s not be unreasonable.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

Note: a .381 wOBA in 2011 ranked 23rd in the major leagues.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 7 months ago

“A 3 WAR DH is a good hitter. Let’s not be unreasonable.”

A VERY good hitter, really. In my opinion anyway. The number of teams getting that from a DH is pretty tiny.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

Only 13 of the 30 teams in 2011 had a .381 wOBA or better hitter.

I think we still hold on to this “if he’s not 5 WAR, he’s crap” perception, and we simply have to get past that.

Not to come back to Edgar Martinez, but a 3 WAR DH is a very good hitter. a 4 WAR Ortiz is impressive. a 6 WAR Edgar Martinez is just ridiculous, and he was ~5 WAR or better 9 times (Ortiz only 3 X’s). I bring that up just for perspective.

Montero didn’t “.381 wOBA” the last 2 years at AAA, although he did in A/AA.

Pat the pragmatist
Member
Pat the pragmatist
4 years 7 months ago

Whatever he does I hope it is not as a Catcher. Nobody should need a sample as to why Catching is going take a toll on him. But V-Mart going down with the ACL injury is a good real time sample. He has 1200 pro games of Catching on those knees and that does not include spring training and anything he did as prior to the pro ranks.

And since Montero is not really a good Catcher anyways and the M’s are not serious contenders. Just do what is best for the kid. They should follow the Carlos Delgado path, not the V-Mart path.

Michael
Guest
Michael
4 years 7 months ago

Montero aside, what the above chart shows me is what a vastly under appreciated player Chipper Jones is.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 7 months ago

I love Chipper Jones. It’s a shame he’s lost so many partial seasons to injury.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 7 months ago

Despite that, I think he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer. As a Braves fan, I’m amazed at how universally loved this guy is(not implying he doesn’t deserve it).

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 7 months ago

I’m a Mets fan and I hate Larry Jones. That said, he would grudgingly have my HOF vote if I had one. Bastard.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

Chipper is under-appreciated?

I think most have him as a 1st ballot HoF’er.

I guess he’s as under-appreciated as a 1st ballot HoF’er can be.

It could also be that he hasn’t really been a force recently.

During his prime, he was appreciated plenty.

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
4 years 7 months ago

Unsurprisingly, you left Vladimir Guerrero out of your analysis. He didn’t ever become selective at the plate.

Not that I’m suggesting Montero will turn into Vlad. No one turns into Vlad. I can hardly believe Vlad turned into Vlad.

wite
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wite
4 years 7 months ago

Adrian Beltre has very much turned into a Vlad-ian hitter.

DSC
Guest
DSC
4 years 7 months ago

Though no where near as consistent for a decade plus.

DBA
Guest
DBA
4 years 7 months ago

Carlos Delgado is absolutely my favorite comp here. 1993 Delgado = 2011 Montero. Give or take.

DSC
Guest
DSC
4 years 7 months ago

I wonder how things would stack up if the comparisons left out the ‘Roid Rangers on the list. Hard to compare to cheaters, really, unless you expect Montero to cheat. I see 7 at least.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 7 months ago

.281/.349/.491 by a Mariners’ player would be a miracle.

Pat the pragmatist
Member
Pat the pragmatist
4 years 7 months ago

“.281/.349/.491 by a Mariners’ player would be a miracle”

A miracle? Why? Because of the last couple seasons?

Just because it has not happened the last couple years does not mean it can’t and won’t again. Numerous players have done that in Safeco Field and many of them have batted right handed.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 7 months ago

I think you took that post a little too literally / seriously.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 7 months ago

Yeah, what he said.

gabriel
Member
gabriel
4 years 7 months ago

Billy Butler is my favourite comparable. Similar build, great scouting reports on his hitting when a prospect, matched by the numbers. Might have ranked top-10 if he had been a quasi-catcher as well, but was knocked down by his very real lack of any non-hitting skills. If Montero is relegated to DH, Butler shows how little value a good hitter can have as well.

Nathaniel Stoltz
Member
Member
4 years 7 months ago

This is exactly the comp I use. Very similar career path, and neither were ever “projectable” guys. It’s telling that Butler’s career numbers aren’t significantly better than what he did at age 21.

kid
Member
kid
4 years 7 months ago

They are both big hitters without a clear defensive position but they have differences in their hitting profiles. Butler is/was a high-contact guy with more limited power and a groundball heavy profile (1.37 GB/FB career, not usual for a power guy). In terms of the bat only I think Butler is kinda similar to Joe Mauer, actually. Montero benefits from being more athletic (6’4/225 vs. 6’1/240) and strikes me as a guy who probably won’t make contact as well as Butler – and therefore will probably strike out more – but with better power skills (more flyballs than Butler, and more raw power, too). Montero’s strikeout rate wasn’t bad in the low minors but it got markedly worse as he progressed in levels.

mavery405518
Member
mavery405518
4 years 7 months ago

Montero’s power ability seems to be much more adept than butler’s

ben
Guest
ben
4 years 7 months ago

Someone beat me to the “Who is Karim Garcia?” joke, so I’ll just say that as a kid, I had such high hopes for him. He was supposed to be the next Dodger ROY after Todd Hollandsworth. Instead, he turned to be worse than…oh, let’s say, Todd Hollandsworth.

Pat the pragmatist
Member
Pat the pragmatist
4 years 7 months ago

“I think you took that post a little too literally / seriously”

Oops, I thought I was on a serious thread.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 7 months ago

I mean, it’s a discussion, but lighten up a little. People make jokes.

Davor
Guest
Davor
4 years 7 months ago

Montero as catcher really has problem keeping his non-glove hand hidden, and he was hit there a couple of times. That’s partially responsible for his lower numbers the last two years. Also, he had an eye infection this year, and for a while he struck out like you’d expect from someone who can’t see well. I’d like to see him play a season where he isn’t primary catcher before concluding whether his AAA K% is more meaningful than his previous K%.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

Other than tradition, I can;t figure out why catchers place their hand behind their back foot. Maybe it’s comfort.

I say this because [1] many fouls tips go toward the ground (feet), [2] the bare hand drifts, and [3] the safest place for the bare hand is behind the glove.

I have my 10yo catcher/pitcher/ss make his bare hand into a fist (relaxed fist) and have it right behind the mitt (just like with runners on). It’s the safest place for the barehand, and young catchers often use two hands for blocking (bare hand on outside of glove (protected), so the bare hand is already there.

With the bare hand in a fist behind the mitt, the ball would either have to go through the mitt or arc around/over the mitt to hit the bare hand. Not gonna happen.

The bare hand seems to get hit most when it’s on the outside of the thigh, returning from behind held behind the right leg. Makes sense to me just to not have the hand there in the first place.

kingoriole
Guest
kingoriole
4 years 7 months ago

I speak from 6 years of catching…

I’d be willing to bet the hand would get hit more often out in front of the body than behind the leg/foot/back.
It’s easier to move one hand quickly than two – and if you aren’t moving BOTH hands than it’s not safer. Humans are notoriously lazy at little things like holding their hands up – it’s just easier to keep something in a relaxed position than tensed.

And it looks ridiculous.

Sailor Sam
Guest
Sailor Sam
4 years 7 months ago

There is always X amount of risk involved. Dave points this out and shows what could be a likely outcome. But I must say he has a nice swing, very strong arms/wrist and is not a straight pull hitter. I don’t have the figures to back me up, but I also believe these are the type of hitters who can best make adjustments as they continue to develope.

Super Shredder
Guest
Super Shredder
4 years 7 months ago

As a Mariners fan, I was under the impression that Jesus is going to be the second coming of Edgar.

tz
Guest
tz
4 years 7 months ago

Konerko was the first comp that came to mind when the trade was announced (very good pure hitter with pop, slow as molasses, not so hot at catcher). If the M’s could move Smoak for fair value, they should turn Montero into a first baseman to give be healthy to bat 162 games/yr instead of catch 120-125 games/yr

Derek Lamarr
Guest
Derek Lamarr
4 years 7 months ago

Great article, Dave. Very informative.

Part of your conclusion is that Montero’s success as an elite prospect depends on the development of his patience at the plate. Is there reason to believe the Mariner’s front office also came to that conclusion, and traded for him because they had reason to believe it was likely they could develop that aspect of his game?

joeyp
Guest
joeyp
4 years 7 months ago

Dave has consistently knocked Montero,Thats all this is,covering his ass by artificially trying to raise the bar for Montero to be considered a success.thats all this is. there are literally hundreds os rookie pitchers who had one sub .500 season and flamed out never reaching their potential, but do you see Dave saying that Pineda has to become Roy Halliday in order for this trade to make sense for the Yankees? if Montero becomes a Wells, Ramirez, or a Beltre, then Montero is still a success. only someone with an irrational bias like Dave Cameron would feel the need to do this.

The downside of a prospect like Pineda is much greater due to his being a pitcher and the injury nexus that Pineda still must get beyond. but as i said Dave isnt writing articles saying Pineda must be a Halliday or a Verlander, why? because he doesnt have an irrational reason to undercut Pineda.

The key is to understand that neither prospect is a sure thing, and statistically the pitcher is a far greater risk, to fail to develop to their absolute top level projection. Dave is just doing what he can to unrealistically raise the bar on Montero, simply to cover Dave’s own Ass.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 7 months ago

I think Dave is essentially saying the opposite …

Essentially, my argument has been that since Montero is likely to be the kind of player who produces all of his value at the plate, he’s going to have to develop into a monster hitter to justify the expectations placed upon him. For bat-only players, the offensive bar to become a superstar is extremely high, so Montero would have to become one of the very best hitters in baseball to be a truly elite player.

ut projecting a player solely based on upside will often lead you astray.

so you’re probably best off viewing Montero’s median expected production towards the higher side of this second tier. Ranging from Paul Konerko (121 wRC+) and Shawn Green (119 wRC+) on the high side to Hank Blalock (100 wRC+) and Vernon Wells (105 wRC+) on the low side, these guys all turned into good-but-not-great hitters, and it mostly had to do with their ability to control the strike zone.

I think Dave’s view of Montero, including his article showing that Montero is probably better suited at DH, are realistic and not inflated or deflated.

If there were simlar articles for Pineda, the range might range from Chris Carpenter to Francisco Liriano, with much of it being dependent on whether he develops a change up or not.

I know this, Pineda threw 31% sliders as a rookie. That is a HIGH number and the amount of pitchers whose arms can tolerate that type of slider use is small. Ervin Santana seems to be one of them, and viewing Pineda as a better version of Santana might be realistic as would seeing him as Liriano if he doesn;t get that 3rd pitch.

If you want to get at Dave, comments about “blinking” seem to be the theme of the week.

patrick
Guest
patrick
4 years 7 months ago

Im liking Jaso behind the dish and montero / smoak at 1b and dh. This list is impressive. Have you refreshed on the Ms production the past couple of years at those positions? I think we are looking at a big upgrade if those 3 can even produce a meager 5 WAR.

Mike R.
Guest
Mike R.
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t understand the whole fanfare over his plate discipline.

He had a good number of walks as a 20 year old in AAA. The next year he started out with very few walks but I believe the BB% was north of 10% in the second half.

I can’t help but feel the Carlos Lee/Montero comp is based solely on the frame and power. Montero is a more patient hitter than Lee and is not a dead pull hitter either. Lazy comp.

Sparkey
Guest
Sparkey
4 years 7 months ago

Thats ok Dave. Don’t worry about Montero’s bat. Now that he is going to be with the #6org in all of baseball, he can not help but succeed. The #6org will teach him their winning ways. Hopefully, he will overcome that looser mentality from his last org and still be successful. We can only hope they did not ruin him….

dirty
Guest
dirty
4 years 7 months ago

The unspoken thing that jumped out at me from that list of comparibles was: STEROIDS. How many of the guys on that list reached their ceiling with a little pharmaceutical help? Look at guys near the top like Arod, Manny, Jaun Gonzalez. Now that the testing regime supposedy makes that kind of help unavailable for Montero (not to imply that he would definitely be using PEDs if he could get away with it), how does that affect the odds on his projection? Some of his comparables probably would have had much more pedestrian careers without a little help along the way.

kingoriole
Guest
kingoriole
4 years 7 months ago

I speak from 6 years of catching…

I’d be willing to bet the hand would get hit more often out in front of the body than behind the leg/foot/back.
It’s easier to move one hand quickly than two – and if you aren’t moving BOTH hands than it’s not safer. Humans are notoriously lazy at little things like holding their hands up – it’s just easier to keep something in a relaxed position than tensed.

And it looks ridiculous.

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