Minor-League Batting Leaders, According to Steamer MLEs

An essential aspect of any projection system that’s worth a damn is the integration of minor-league data into same — and the translation of that minor-league data to its major-league equivalent (MLE). The Steamer projection system, being worth several of damns, produces MLEs for what appears to be almost every minor-leaguer who exists — and probably some who even don’t.

Yesterday, I asked Steamer owner and operator Jared Cross for the MLE hitting data that’s currently being utilized for the production of Steamer’s rest-of-season and updated forecasts. What follows are four leaderboards featuring that data — specifically, of the MLE batting leaders by various, hopefully useful, criteria.

The first two leaderboards feature minor-league batting leaders (first all of them, and then just prospect-aged one) by translated wOBA. The second pair of leaderboards feature minor-league leaders by translated FIB* — a wOBA estimator (discussed here) which accounts only for home runs, walks, and strikeouts and which has some value insofar as those metrics become stable at least 1,000 plate appearances before BABIP (which metric influences wOBA considerably).

Below the aforementioned leaderboards, followed by some brief comments of varying quality.

MLE Leaderboard: All Minor-League Hitters by wOBA
Below are the top-20 minor-league batters by translated wOBA, according to Steamer (min. 50 PA).

# Name Age Org Lev POS PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP wOBA
1 Kyle Roller 26 Yankees AA 1B 73 .376 .428 .768 .426 .493
2 Gabriel Noriega 23 Mariners AAA SS 55 .435 .435 .580 .490 .442
3 Cole Gillespie 30 Mariners AAA OF 68 .320 .395 .617 .327 .432
4 J.D. Martinez 26 Tigers AAA OF 71 .262 .303 .692 .230 .415
5 George Springer 24 Astros AAA OF 61 .314 .397 .563 .410 .413
6 Joey Butler 28 Cardinals AAA OF 88 .352 .446 .489 .417 .407
7 Ernesto Mejia 28 Braves AAA 1B 88 .316 .366 .584 .390 .407
8 Gregory Polanco 22 Pirates AAA OF 118 .354 .399 .536 .422 .401
9 Eugenio Velez 32 Brewers AAA OF 91 .353 .405 .498 .406 .396
10 Donald Lutz 25 Reds AA OF 82 .324 .362 .573 .369 .395
11 Tyler Ladendorf 26 Athletics AAA SS 97 .342 .421 .455 .418 .387
12 Allan Dykstra 27 Mets AAA 1B 95 .276 .402 .481 .339 .386
13 Audry Perez 25 Cardinals AAA C 54 .348 .367 .512 .393 .383
14 Taylor Teagarden 30 Mets AAA C 63 .257 .336 .547 .313 .381
15 Mookie Betts 21 Red Sox AA 2B 120 .338 .380 .496 .353 .380
16 Chris Taylor 23 Mariners AAA SS 119 .336 .360 .518 .392 .375
17 Johnny Giavotella 26 Royals AAA 2B 82 .345 .381 .472 .358 .374
18 Micah Johnson 23 White Sox AA 2B 128 .336 .395 .454 .403 .373
19 Wade Hinkle 24 Angels A+ 1B 57 .326 .374 .483 .479 .371
20 Shawn Zarraga 25 Brewers AA C 69 .387 .432 .428 .425 .370

MLE Leaderboard: Prospect-Age Minor-League Hitters by wOBA
Here are the top-20 minor-league batters aged 24-or-under by MLE wOBA, according to Steamer (min. 50 PA).

# Name Age Org Lev POS PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP wOBA
1 Gabriel Noriega 23 Mariners AAA SS 55 .435 .435 .580 .490 .442
2 George Springer 24 Astros AAA OF 61 .314 .397 .563 .410 .413
3 Gregory Polanco 22 Pirates AAA OF 118 .354 .399 .536 .422 .401
4 Mookie Betts 21 Red Sox AA 2B 120 .338 .380 .496 .353 .380
5 Chris Taylor 23 Mariners AAA SS 119 .336 .360 .518 .392 .375
6 Micah Johnson 23 White Sox AA 2B 128 .336 .395 .454 .403 .373
7 Wade Hinkle 24 Angels A+ 1B 57 .326 .374 .483 .479 .371
8 Joc Pederson 22 Dodgers AAA OF 132 .287 .388 .451 .387 .368
9 Elmer Reyes 23 Braves AA SS 61 .331 .356 .500 .380 .368
10 Jon Singleton 22 Astros AAA 1B 126 .249 .333 .554 .277 .367
11 Nick Franklin 23 Mariners AAA SS 78 .292 .363 .488 .343 .366
12 Ryan Rua 24 Rangers AA 2B 105 .291 .363 .467 .323 .364
13 Rangel Ravelo 22 White Sox AA 1B 96 .291 .387 .444 .332 .362
14 Zachary Wilson 23 Yankees A+ UT 57 .352 .360 .472 .423 .360
15 Cameron Perkins 23 Phillies AA OF 106 .335 .360 .480 .394 .360
16 Peter O’Brien 23 Yankees A+ C 104 .276 .293 .567 .314 .360
17 Gioskar Amaya 21 Cubs A+ 2B 58 .362 .412 .376 .436 .353
18 Taylor Featherston 24 Rockies AA SS 124 .327 .374 .418 .389 .350
19 Willians Astudillo 22 Phillies A UT 81 .351 .359 .436 .372 .349
20 C.J. Cron 24 Angels AAA 1B 122 .274 .313 .494 .314 .348

MLE Leaderboard: All Minor-League Hitters by FIB*
Here are the top-20 minor-league batters by MLE FIB* — i.e. a wOBA estimator which accounts only for home runs, walks, and strikeouts — according to Steamer (min. 50 PA):

# Name Age Org Lev POS PA HR% BB% K% BABIP FIB*
1 J.D. Martinez 26 Tigers AAA OF 71 11.3% 3.2% 25.1% .230 .460
2 Kyle Roller 26 Yankees AA 1B 73 9.5% 8.8% 23.2% .426 .459
3 Cole Gillespie 30 Mariners AAA OF 68 5.7% 10.3% 13.5% .327 .429
4 Jon Singleton 22 Astros AAA 1B 126 7.1% 11.5% 27.4% .277 .418
5 Rob Segedin 25 Yankees AA OF 91 3.8% 12.5% 11.6% .264 .411
6 Taylor Teagarden 30 Mets AAA C 63 6.9% 10.6% 30.9% .313 .400
7 Kennys Vargas 23 Twins AA 1B 106 4.6% 9.7% 17.1% .261 .397
8 Francisco Pena 24 Royals AAA C 69 6.6% 5.5% 23.0% .211 .396
9 Kyle Blanks 27 Padres AAA 1B 95 6.5% 8.1% 27.9% .227 .393
10 Bryan Anderson 27 Reds AA C 77 4.7% 9.2% 18.8% .289 .393
11 Nick Evans 28 D-backs AAA 1B 91 5.4% 5.6% 17.9% .233 .391
12 Ty Kelly 25 Mariners AAA 2B 85 1.8% 18.3% 16.8% .267 .388
13 Dan Johnson 34 Blue Jays AAA 1B 114 2.7% 13.6% 15.3% .268 .387
14 Joey Butler 28 Cardinals AAA OF 88 2.8% 14.0% 17.0% .417 .386
15 Jhonatan Solano 28 Nationals AAA C 75 3.1% 8.2% 10.4% .281 .385
16 Jake Goebbert 26 Athletics AAA OF 100 3.6% 8.9% 14.3% .283 .385
17 Ernesto Mejia 28 Braves AAA 1B 88 6.4% 6.1% 27.3% .390 .384
18 Braeden Schlehuber 26 Braves AA C 51 3.4% 7.1% 10.7% .186 .384
19 Allan Dykstra 27 Mets AAA 1B 95 2.3% 17.1% 19.3% .339 .383
20 Justin Bour 26 Marlins AAA 1B 119 2.7% 7.9% 7.9% .305 .383

MLE Leaderboard: Prospect-Age Minor-League Hitters by FIB*
Here are the top-20 minor-league batters aged 24-or-under by MLE FIB* — i.e. a wOBA estimator which accounts only for home runs, walks, and strikeouts — according to Steamer (min. 50 PA):

# Name Age Org Lev POS PA HR% BB% K% BABIP FIB*
1 Jon Singleton 22 Astros AAA 1B 126 7.1% 11.5% 27.4% .277 .418
2 Kennys Vargas 23 Twins AA 1B 106 4.6% 9.7% 17.1% .261 .397
3 Francisco Pena 24 Royals AAA C 69 6.6% 5.5% 23.0% .211 .396
4 Ryan Rua 24 Rangers AA 2B 105 3.6% 9.7% 16.4% .323 .383
5 Travis Shaw 24 Red Sox AA 1B 107 2.6% 9.4% 10.2% .262 .382
6 Jesus Montero 24 Mariners AAA C 96 5.7% 5.7% 23.4% .275 .381
7 Jabari Henry 23 Mariners A+ OF 66 4.4% 10.2% 22.5% .165 .381
8 Nick Franklin 23 Mariners AAA SS 78 4.0% 10.0% 20.9% .343 .377
9 Jesus Aguilar 24 Indians AAA 1B 113 3.6% 11.4% 21.3% .310 .376
10 Peter O’Brien 23 Yankees A+ C 104 6.7% 2.4% 26.1% .314 .376
11 Craig Manuel 24 Nationals A C 65 2.6% 6.0% 7.3% .263 .375
12 Oscar Taveras 22 Cardinals AAA OF 112 3.7% 5.5% 13.4% .299 .375
13 Joey Gallo 20 Rangers A+ 3B 119 5.3% 11.0% 31.6% .285 .374
14 George Springer 24 Astros AAA OF 61 4.4% 11.2% 26.6% .410 .374
15 Mookie Betts 21 Red Sox AA 2B 120 2.4% 7.2% 8.2% .353 .374
16 Rangel Ravelo 22 White Sox AA 1B 96 1.9% 12.6% 13.6% .332 .373
17 Jabari Blash 24 Mariners AA OF 110 3.2% 13.7% 24.0% .249 .371
18 Anthony Garcia 22 Cardinals A+ OF 106 4.0% 6.2% 18.1% .173 .369
19 Jose Ramirez 21 Indians AAA 2B 105 2.2% 6.5% 8.3% .276 .368
20 Max Muncy 23 Athletics AA 1B 127 1.2% 13.3% 12.7% .288 .368

Brief Comments of Varying Quality:

  • With regard to overall MLE wOBA leader Kyle Roller, here’s who Kyle Roller is: an eighth-round selection by the Yankees in 2010 out of East Carolina University. And here’s who else: a prospect who’s always (a) been old for his levels and (b) produced above-average offensive lines relative to his leagues.
  • Despite leading all prospect-age hitters by translated wOBA, Seattle infield prospect Gabriel Noriega‘s line at Triple-A Tacoma is also mostly informed by batted-ball outcomes. Indeed, he hasn’t recorded an above-average offensive line since 2008, in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
  • That said, other Seattle infield prospect Chris Taylor — 16th among all minor-league hitters by translated wOBA and just fifth among prospect-age minor-league hitters — received the 38th-best WAR projection among rookie-eligible players before the season.
  • Among the top prospect-age hitters by translated FIB* is Jose Ramirez, which Cleveland infield prospect (a) was recently promoted to the majors and (b) JD Sussman considered briefly in Monday’s edition of the Prospect Watch.
  • Do you even Mookie Betts?


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Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 4 months ago

Still baffled that the Astros didn’t at least see what JD Martinez could do. Are the holes in his swing so great that he can’t get a callup anywhere?

Sean
Guest
Sean
2 years 4 months ago

What? The Astros gave plenty of rope to JD Martinez. He was awful with all of it, excepting a tiny stretch right after he was called up and April 2012.

Terence
Member
Member
Terence
2 years 4 months ago

Astros gave JD 1000 MLB PA. He can’t run, he can’t play defense, he can’t hit for average, he’s not good at getting on base, and the power is streaky. At best he is replacement level.

John McGeehan
Guest
John McGeehan
2 years 4 months ago

He can and he did. He is sharing left field in Detroit with Rajai Davis. We will take his .794 OPS. Rajai can take care of the speed and defense.

Detroit Michael
Guest
Detroit Michael
2 years 4 months ago

Hopefully Dan Johnson is also networking around so he an land a coaching or managerial gig somewhere when his playing days are finally over.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 4 months ago

I’m surprised how many of these guys are late 20’s early 30’s, they play on the field of broken dreams.

John C
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John C
2 years 4 months ago

Triple-A baseball is full of marginal guys who can hit well enough to hold a job in AAA, but are replacement level or worse when they come up to the big leagues. At any given time, there are more players in AAA who have played in the majors and not been successful there, than players who have never played in the majors.

There’s actually not a huge gap in the quality of play between AA and AAA. Double-A is full of younger players, genuine prospects who still have things to learn. Triple-A rosters are filled with finished products who just aren’t quite talented enough to stick in the majors.

JH
Guest
JH
2 years 4 months ago

Eh, as soon as you’re played a day in the majors, the CBA guarantees you a pretty solid salary (I think $75,000 last I checked) to play in the minor leagues. I can think of many worse ways to spend your late 20s/early 30s than making $75,000 playing baseball half the year. And of course, there’s always the possibility of the spot call-up (which pays something ridiculous like $20,000/week).

Also, I’m not sure how you’d confirm this but it seems likely to me that the more time spent around the minors, the better your chance of catching on with the coaching/player development side when your playing career is over. A lot of people really enjoy being baseball lifers.

Steve-O
Guest
Steve-O
2 years 4 months ago

Why isn’t Kris Bryant in the first table?

TangoAlphaLima
Guest
TangoAlphaLima
2 years 4 months ago

Huh, with all the accolades the kid is getting, I’m surprised to see Oscar Tavares’ projections so low.

Saloperie
Guest
Saloperie
2 years 4 months ago

Springer’s minor league numbers haven’t MLE’d to date and never will, really.

matt
Guest
matt
2 years 4 months ago

6-game hitting streak, three hits tonight… starting to come around

Atari
Guest
Atari
2 years 4 months ago

Remember when Matt Wieters was blowing everyone’s MLEs coming up?

Coop!
Guest
Coop!
2 years 4 months ago

No and I’m pretty sure I’d remember my MLE getting blown, especially if it was up and coming.

Value arb
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Wieners was such a MLE tease, but once he got up, he was stone cold.

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