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  1. Asking why we think Justin Upton will get better is like asking why we believe in gravity. It’s just a universal constant.

    Comment by Junker23 — October 24, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  2. i actually agree with eno, show me where being young absolutely means you’ll get better. there were stories in the preseason about this, that a young player doesn’t always get better as he ages.

    Comment by sean — October 24, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  3. He had 12 no doubt home runs, 3rd in the MLB. So he has massive power and plays in Arizona yet only had around a 14% HR/FB ratio in 2011, he managed an 18% ratio in his breakout 2009 at 21. Even if he doesn’t continue to improve his plate discipline he is likely to start having more balls fly over the fence

    Comment by Junior — October 24, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  4. In that case gravity be damned its all magnetics

    Comment by adohaj — October 24, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  5. Thanks for putting the guys in the earlier tiers at the top. Makes things clearer.

    Comment by peachesnnuts — October 24, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  6. The author says that Upton’s best minor league ISO was .240 like that’s a bad thing. He was 19 years old in AA, and that ISO was 3rd best in the league among players with as many ABs. Ah, it’s context you’d like? How about Upton’s ISO that year being 27 points higher than the two-years-older Evan Longoria in the same league?

    I’d like to see a list of 19 year old 1st round picks who’ve put up a .247 OPS in AA.

    Being young for your league doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get better, of course. That goes without saying. But if it doesn’t, what does a better job of making a similar prediction?

    Comment by Nick V. — October 24, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  7. Oops, “best minor league ISO was .247 like that’s a bad thing.”

    Comment by Nick V. — October 24, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  8. My big concern with CarGo is that despite the increase in BB% and decrease in K%, his plate discipline numbers were almost all worse than league average across the board. He certainly looks less risky than a year ago, at least in terms of production when on the field, but there’s a part of me that still wonders if his apparent improvements are a bit of a mirage. I don’t doubt he’s a legit high BABIP guy–he has enough speed and hits enough balls on the ground, and two straight years of a 20% HR/FB is pretty convincing. But a K% spike could still cause his average to fall, and if it comes along with a BB% drop he could post a pretty modest OBP as well. I think he’s probably a safe HR,SB,RBI play, but his AVG and R may still be somewhat volatile. Unless he’s going at the 2-3 turn at earliest next year, I’ll probably stay away, hoping his wOBA drops another 20 points and everyone starts screaming about how he peaked early going into 2013 and jumps off the bandwagon.

    Comment by MH — October 24, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  9. I really didn’t mean to make it sound like his .247 iSO in the minors was a bad thing. I’m just saying I’m not sure how much farther there is to go for him. Only seven guys have had an ISO above .247 since 2008, and if you bump that number up to .253, there’s only Pujols, Bautista and Howard above that threshhold.

    He’s great. Is a top-three power hitter in baseball? Will he ever steal 30 bases? Unsure. Probably Not.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 24, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  10. Eno, I think you’re missing Nick V’s point. You just named elite power hitters. Upton’s on par with those numbers . . . as a 23 year old. You refuted your own point about him getting better. Given his success at his young age, a better question would be “how much better can we expect Upton to get?”

    Comment by Ben — October 24, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  11. Yep, the answer to Eno’s question of Upton is his age.

    Comment by Oops — October 24, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  12. He struggled with wrist injuries a huge chunk of the season.

    Comment by Oops — October 24, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  13. Those saying that Gonzalez was headed for regression in 2011 were correct.
    Technically you can say Cargo suffered from regression, but in reality he suffered from injury.
    His wrist just never fully recovered from crashing into the wall and as a result missed even more time because of it.
    On a rate basis he was he only slightly worse than 2010 but im not sure if these differences are even statistically significant or not:
    2010 PA/HR = 18.7
    2011 PA/HR = 20.8
    If we use instead AB/HR to account for his improved BB rate, the numbers are even closer:
    2010 = 17.3 AB/HR
    2011 = 18.5 AB/HR

    and AB/SB:
    2010 = 22.6
    2011 = 24.1

    also in 2011 he was more efficient at stealing bases, being successful 80% of attempts as compared to 76.5% in 2010.

    So over a full healthy season of at least 630 PA’s, (and I would not consider him “injury prone” based on an incident where he crashed into the wall) I think its safe to project Gonzalez as .290+/30hr/25sb/110rbi player

    Comment by cs3 — October 24, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  14. Re: Upton
    I think Eno makes a valid point that only 7 hitters since 2008 have an iso of over .247, with only 3- pujols, howard and bautista with ones over .253.
    However I agree with those above me saying you can’t make the argument that Upton is unlikely to post an iso higher than .247 because he never did so in the minors. not a lot of prospects become a permanent fixture in the majors before they’re 20. if he had spent another yr or two in the minors like most top prospects i’m sure he might have posted something better.
    that said I do agree with your point of the 3/7 hitters with iso since 2008 is a good argument that it’s unlikely Upton will do much better. that said I think Upton has a good a chance as any minus maybe Stanton to break into that select company because he is a special talent.

    Comment by bk — October 25, 2011 @ 4:40 am

  15. I just don’t get the ISO argument, I’m thinking that I’m missing something. Has Upton, at age 23, already set a baseline for himself to which he’s likely to regress? Upton had an ISO this year that is up there with the best sluggers in the game, and somehow this is not reason for hope? Maybe Upton is a 230-250 ISO guy going forward. Wouldn’t that be, like, awesome?

    Comment by Nick V. — October 25, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  16. Why do we think he will get better? because of normal aging curves???

    I mean physically players peak in their early to mid 20s, but they peak statistically a few years later because you need experience to hit MLB quality stuff, its why players who get to the league 20-22 rather than 23-24 generally peak around 25/26 rather than 27 (and subsequently sustain their peak for a season or two longer). Ive always thought of it as two curves… physical and experience… experience starts at the origin and continues to increase (most likely at a diminishing rate) and physical tools start somewhere on the y-axis (for the absolute stars it starts much higher obviously) will usually have a minimal increase from ages 20-25ish and then start to tail off, their peak season is where the experience curve meets the physical tools curve.

    I would think that the fact that upton is showing improvement in his plate discipline (while we already know he is an absolute beast of a human) he is probably a safe bet to project for an MVP in the next 4-5 seasons.

    Similarly, im less high on McCutch going forward because there is absolutely no knowing when the physical/power projections will end. He may never hit more than 25 HRs, you can teach plate discipline (and while its not easy, and some people just never get it) its much harder to increase power (unless there is a drastic change in batted ball profile/swing type but for a player like mccutch who is so well rounded thats not necessarily a good thing).

    Over at minorleagueball, there is discussion in the keith law top 50 under 25 ( about mccutch’s trade value and how markakis is an interesting comp… similar plate discipline numbers, both debuted at the same age, with most of mccutch’s perceived value is in his progression (people dreaming of 30/30)… as far as i can tell, you can continue to develop a batting eye throughout your career, but power development is not guaranteed.

    If there was any single person i think could challenge braun/kemp in the next couple years for the top dawg in the NL outfield its upton by a wide margin

    Comment by Pat — December 2, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  17. Yes it would be awesome. Why would it show up as a ton better in his fantasy stats? He had a .240 ISO last year.

    I mean, are people projecting him as a 40-HR hitter?

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 2, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  18. Two things. Early debuts peak earlier, so probably 25-26 for Upton. That could be next year.

    Second, there’s true talent and results. Those could be the best fantasy results he ever shows even if he peaks (true talent) later.

    Let’s say he has the same amount of swinging strikes (or better) but more strikeouts next year (completely possible given his history) and steals fewer bases. Has same ISO and a couple more HRs leave the park. He hits .278 with 34 HR and ten stolen bases.

    True talent, he might have gotten better. Results might be worse for fantasy.

    What I’m saying is this: he’s already in the top five or so, power-wise, and he’s not likely to steal more bases in the future. So I think he’s close to his ceiling and I’m unsure that we can project him for a ton better.

    Do you think he’ll hit 40 out? Steal 25 bags?

    I don’t see it.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 2, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  19. After digging around in his statistical profile, I see no reason why we cant project him for nominal growth in both HR and SB stats.

    As players hit more home runs, their SB chances decreases, but any gains made in HR could easily be offset by a small rebound in BABIP.Last season his BABIP was below his career average (.319 v .337) and there is something else to note in his BABIP by batted ball type… he has consistently (every season except his rookie year) posted a BABIP on grounders north of .300 (league average is .240ish) to me this signals that he just hits the ball freakin hard.

    This season he also experienced a drop in K% and a drop in BB%… I would think this shows marked improvement in plate discipline, and that he is learning to attack pitches he can hit earlier in the count. I won’t project him to continue to improve his BB% again to get back closer to his career value, but there is no reason that he can’t continue to improve in plate discipline, and until his progress stalls I’m not prepared to say that he’s peaked.

    His progression in his batted ball profile also is promising, he has maintained a league average 18% LD% while cutting his GB% and increasing his FB%. Three great signs that he is becoming a better power hitter.

    I’d comfortably project him for 35/20 this season with a chance to have 2011 Braun like season as his ceiling

    Comment by Pat — December 2, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

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