December 1, 2009 at 4:15 am
Editing note: Jason bartlett hit 1 HR in 2008, not 2009
Dan Budreika says:
December 1, 2009 at 11:02 am
Just took care of this. Thanks for pointing it out.
December 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm
Bartlett’s 2009 definitely looks like an anomaly, but I don’t buy the linked article’s take on Zobrist.
Zobrist raked at every stop in the minors. While it’s true he was a little old and he didn’t show much HR power, he always had plenty of gap power and tremendous plate discipline (.429 OBP in 1600 PA!). I think just as likely an explanation as the “revamped swing” mumbo-jumbo is that he was always a good hitter whose power simply developed late. It’s typical to see good, disciplined prospects hit few home runs in their early 20s and then suddenly develop power around 24 or 25. Maybe for Zobrist, who didn’t get his pro start until 23, it just came a couple of years late.
How about this theory: he got unfairly hit with the fluke tag based on 1) being a middle infielder, and 2) a terrible start in the Majors. This is evident when the author of the linked article goes out of his way to mention that Zobrist improved his plate discipline in ’08-’09. He always had great discipline! He simply hadn’t put it together in his tiny (300 PA) Major League sample.
December 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm
bartlett showed some power in the second half of 2008 when his SLG went up to .464. a hamstring injury stopped his running (18 SB in the first half). anyone who did their homework would have seen a power uptick and potential for 30 SB.
R M says:
December 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm
1st/2nd half splits don’t mean much with established players…. eg. Ryan Howard has consistently hot 2nd halves, but this means little when projecting his next season.
Dan Budreika says:
December 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm
The Zobrist articles that I linked were not necessarily placed in my article to sternly compare Bartlett to Zobrist. I felt that it was fascinating that some people were comparing the two in such a manner.
They are two different players but they do share one thing in common and that is that they really have surprised people with their recent performance spike. I personally found the article about how he changed his swing to be very interesting. Zobrist could be a miracle case of fantastic coaching and/or amazing player development.
Yes, Zobrist did hit well in the minor leagues but he really “peaked” during his age 28 season. I don’t know how to really explain his power surge. He made a drastic change to his game starting in 2008. The numbers show that he became a different player with the ability to slug north of the .500 mark. Something happened. His 2009 performance proved that 2008 was no joke.
While I agree with you that player’s tend to develop more player later in their careers (and that Zobrist has always had great plate discipline) it is rare for player’s to develop as much as as Zobrist has recently. We are talking about a guy that hit 23 career minor league home runs and then all of a sudden hits 39 over his last 826 MAJOR LEAGUE at-bats. That just doesn’t usually happen. I’m sure the Rays front office didn’t expect Zobrist to hit for power like he is now when they acquired him in the Aubrey Huff deal nor did former Astros GM Tim Purpura think he had this kind of potential.
December 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm
Dan, I liked your article and wasn’t taking exception to it. I just strongly disagree with what the linked author wrote (so maybe I should have commented on that website).
For an interesting comparison, take a look at Hanley Ramirez’s stats in the minors and majors. Add 5 years to his age and you basically have a less disciplined Zobrist (ignoring baserunning, of course). Aaron Hill and J.J. Hardy are other MIs who flashed little power in the minors, then suddenly put it together around age 25.
I agree, the Zobrist example is more extreme than any of these others, and it’s compounded by the fact that for him the power came even later, at 27.
Dan Budreika says:
December 2, 2009 at 12:04 am
No hard feelings. It’s interesting that you mention Hanley Ramirez. He’s an interesting case and absolutely exploded when he arrived in the bigs. His last year with Boston (spent mostly in AA) was a bit lackluster. Scouts always raved about his tools and I remember some scouts thinking that he, “just looked bored out there (in the minors)”.
Perhaps that’s where makeup steps in and plays a big role. But defining “what makeup is” to different teams is an entire different story within itself.
December 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm
trying to lump ppl into categories and label them doesnt work. especially trying to compare howard and bartlett.
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