Though, as Szymborski shouts at the top of his lungs, the numbers are subject to all manner of caveat, they still provide an interesting point of departure for developing ideas about players come 2011.
Below are five notable batter zMLEs, with notations of varying helpfulness. As to what constitutes “notable,” there’s no hard definition, but I’ve generally looked for hitters with at least 100 ABs and have omitted more well-known prospects — like Carlos Santana or Mike Stanton, for example.
Ages are as of today, October 29th. The wOBAs (for the MLEs, that is) are approximate; players, ordered according to author’s whim. The reader will also note that all of the following are Triple-A players. Five Double-A players will appear in this space next week.
Name: Marquez Smith, 25, 3B
Organization: Chicago (NL) Level: Triple-A
Actual: 341 PA, .314/.384/.574 (.358 BABIP), .412 wOBA
zMLE: 341 PA, .278/.340/.502 (.317 BABIP), .366 wOBA
• So far as I can tell, has never, ever, never, ever, never been on a prospect list of any sort. Or, at least not recently he hasn’t.
• Per Scout.com, was drafted a total of four times: 36th round of 2003 draft by Twins, 46th round of 2004 draft by Angels, 35th round of 2006 draft by Cubs, and, finally, by Cubs in eighth round of 2007 draft from Clemson University.
• Finished at +15 runs afield in 2008, per TotalZone, and +22 runs in 2009.
• Is native of Panama City, Florida, home of Shuckums Oyster Bar.
• Shuckums: “We Shuck’um, You Suck’um.”
Name: Danny Dorn, 26, 1B
Organization: Cincinnati Level: Triple-A
Actual: 319 PA, .302/.398/.545 (.387 BABIP), .409 wOBA
zMLE: 319 PA, .250/.342/.468 (.333 BABIP), .355 wOBA
• Is a “poor defensive player,” per our man Marc Hulet.
• As of August 20th of last year had .197/.239/.394 career mark against southpaws in his career, but .293/.358/.475 against right-handers.
• Slashed .313/.420/.562 against righties in 2010, only .259/.306/.483 against lefties.
• Small sample, small sample, small sample.
• Blocked at the ML-level by Joey Votto who, in addition to being a better hitter than Dorn, is also way more Italian.
Name: Justin Turner, 26, 2B
Organization: New York (NL) Level: Triple-A
Actual: 348 PA, .333/.390/.516 (.351 BABIP), .395 wOBA
zMLE: 348 PA, .288/.340/.434 (.308 BABIP), .343 wOBA
• Is graded as -9 run true-talent fielder by Sean Smith’s most recent CHONE projection.
• A good thing is how he struck out in only 12.2% of his plate appearances at Buffalo this season.
• That ranked him 20th among batters in the International League with at least 100 PAs.
• Was claimed by Mets off waivers after being DFAed by the Orioles to make room on the 40-man for Scott Moore.
• The Scott Moore.
Name: Chris Nelson, 25, MI
Organization: Colorado Level: Triple-A
Actual: 356 PA, .317/.379/.498 (.348 BABIP), .384 wOBA
zMLE: 356 PA, .280/.331/.443 (.311 BABIP), .341 wOBA
• On the one hand, played more innings at short this year than any other position.
• On the other, is rated as a -19 run fielder by the most recent iteration of CHONE.
• Was originally considered a top prospect, but then kind of a bust, but now kinda good again.
• Broke his hamate bone in 2008, thus stalling his development for a time.
• The hamate is neither a ham, nor a mate: discuss.
Name: Cord Phelps, 23, 2B
Organization: Cleveland Level: Triple-A
Actual: 273 PA, .317/.386/.506 (.357 BABIP), .388 wOBA
zMLE: 273 PA, .271/.335/.409 (.312 BABIP), .331 wOBA
• Without even checking, I’m gonna guess he’s from the American South — with a name like that, I mean.
• Ack. Wrong. California.
• Had zero home runs through first two college seasons at Stanford (278 AB).
• Had 13 his junior year (259 AB).
• Is on zero prospect lists, so far as I can tell.
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