Overnight Success
Why do you think so many 27-year-olds ride those minors buses


Give me a couple of years, and I'll make that actress an overnight success. - Samuel Goldwyn of MGM

One press account said I was an overnight success.  I thought, That was the longest night I've ever spent. - Sandra Cisneros

I believe in the idea of "real success" versus "perceived success."  Most over the overnight success people achieve is simply perceived success. - Jon Gordon


It's cliche to talk about guys like Abraham Almonte as overnight successes.  And the only thing more trite than that is --- > pointing out that his overnight success took him 8 years.  

There are indeed ML players who parachute in from nowhere -- at least relatively speaking.  Before the 2013 season, Almonte was in BaseballHQ's minor league book as an "8E," meaning lowest possible chance to make the majors, and if he does, not as anything special.  Trayvon Robinson was an 8B, a vastly better grade; Dennis Raben had a better grade.  Everybody had a better grade.  Yeah, Almonte came outta nowhere, kiddies.  If he makes it he's going to be a Wilhelmsen-esque rags to riches story.

The M's could use the break, can I get a witness?


NFL Street "Are you SURE you're a STARTER?!," Dept.

It's a little bemusing to see Lloyd McClendon show such obvious bias towards Almonte.  Bill James has pointed out that the vast majority of Cinderella seasons follow a managerial change.  He's also pointed out that new managers can see through the old managers' blind spots.  If McClendon sees things in Almonte -- athleticism, classical leadoff hitting, speed, hunger, whatever -- that the Mariners have been lacking, great.  

Talk about overnight success, though ... we're five days into camp and the Mariners' outfield rotation is set.*  Ackley, Saunders, Almonte and Hart sharing time ... and SSI will share with you a little secret about Hart's ability to play 155 in the outfield.  So unless he fouls up royally, Almonte is in there.


The Threat is Stronger than the Execution, Dept.

The good amigoz from Lookout Landing had a .gif up of Almonte's HR today.  Sorry, we didn't particularly grok much out of it, except that --- > it's always nice to have pop out of a speedy leadoff guy.  Rickey Henderson drew walks, in part, because pitchers authentically feared the 1st-pitch HR.  Not leadoff HR; they feared the FIRST PITCH home run.  I'm guessing that pitchers don't like to give those up.

If you're going to have a leadoff hitter, a classical guy, 12 home runs a year bring a threat that changes the at-bat.  It's one thing to groove a get-me-over strike to Joey Cora; it's another thing to groove a get-me-over strike to Johnny Damon.  

In chess there is the idea that the threat is stronger than the execution.  What chessmasters mean by that ... if you go 10 moves, holding the idea of a Kingside attack over an enemy's head, it might very well "soften" his Queenside so that you can get play there.  So much the better if you have 3 or 4 strong maneuvers, all kept in tension, that sap his resources.  We're probably not getting the idea across very effectively, but this concept has real and immense impact in tournament chess games.

A simple example:  a person getting an ucler by worrying about cancer that isn't there...

Anyway.  Almonte has real nice pop for a leadoff guy.  That gives him a better chance to "maintain the balance" in the pitcher-hitter matchups.  A "leadoff hitter" who hits 2 homers, the pitchers can go right after him, maybe knock the bat out of his hands, those walks go way down ... you feel me.  Almonte's pop is a major factor for him, in trying to scale Mt. Olympus out of nowhere.


BJOL "Major League Teams Pay Too Little Attention to How Their Players Have Actually Performed," Dept.

Almonte played 25 games for us last year, batting .264/.313/.403 for a 104 OPS+ in his first month.  That was good for 0.8 offensive WAR in less than 1/6 of a season.  You do the math.  

That followed the .314/.403 (!)/.491 season he had for the Rainiers, which was 7.9 runs per 27 outs - in other words, nine Almontes would have posted 8 runs per game for the Rainiers.  So he overmatched the PCL and then landed with a splash in the AL, carrying it over.  Granted, it was the sort of splash your 7-year-old makes going off the side of the pool.

This spring, he has started off 2-for-15 in six games ... Six games don't matter, but, you know.  Almonte has got 2 BB and only 3 K in that time, meaning that he's suffered BABIP melanoma.  Even statistically speaking, I love his start.  Good EYE and good XBH. Swing looks confident.


Shandler on Almonte, after the 25 games:

Signed as a 16-year-old and overcam an alcohol problem, which is a nice feel-good story.  Despite mediocre stolen base %, he runs a lot and drwas some walks.  Not likely a starter, but even as a 4th OF, he has the skills for:  UP:  double-digit HR and SB

In other words, he's a killer value roto grab.  The takeaway is that Ron sees Almonte as a solid player, and well capable of 15-20 homers if he got a lot of playing time.


The Ultimate Linkage

So, LrKrBoi29, by "Overnight Success" we mean that he's pole vaulted into a quasi-starting JOB in the majors out of nowhere.  If he becomes a 2.0 WAR center fielder, well ... that's what minor leaguers dream of.  If he's going to reproduce his 2013 stats, even better.  If he's going to make multiple All-Star games, well...

We've only got a coupla articles up. Our May 2013 scouting report was based on a game's look at him on TV. First thing that jumps out at you - it's unusual for a batter to have such a "hitter's box" triangle swing (like Jim Thome) and yet be so quick to the ball.

Last month we dealt with the accusations that Almonte was going to go to "multiple All-Star games."  Reading between the lines here ... guys in uniform who watch Almonte play are seeing a "man among boys" presence in the batter's box.

So a guy stopped drinking, his career took off like a Roman candle, and we get to see where it lands.  Okay by me.  I ain't rooting for Abraham Almonte as hard as Lloyd McClendon is, but the M's could use a Lenny Dykstra Lite into the Cano bargain.


Dr D



Backwards Bob i...'s picture

I live in Eugene, but I still make my way up North for several games a year. Last year, my wonderful wife bought me a 32 Summit Club ticket pack for the Rainiers. It was amazing how we were treated! We were able to meet several of the players last year. Nothing huge, just a few minutes, autographs, etc. Almonte is one of the guys that really struck me though. He just had something, I am not sure if I can verbalize it. He was sincere and endearing. He had an infectious smile. He always seemed to be having fun, even after tough losses. The last game that I caught, I brought my three sons along with me, and while getting yet another round of autographs, my ten year old struck up a conversation with Almonte.
It went kind of like this:
Bobby: You sure are good!
Almonte: Thanks buddy. Do you play ball too?
Bobby: Yeah, this year my team lost the championship though.
Almonte: That's too bad. Did you have fun though?
Bobby: Yeah! I love baseball. How did you get so good? I want to get as good as you.
Almonte: Well, you gotta love it. You gotta want it. You can't give up. Every time someone tells you that you can't make it, you gotta try harder. If you make a mistake you gotta try even harder! But it's worth it! *wink* See you around buddy.
Between my 3 boys, they reeled in better than 300 ingredients. Several of the players, they hit up every game. They got to chit chat a little bit with several of the guys over the summer, but that back and forth with Almonte has always stood out to me. It was great to see him heeding his own advice.


Thanks for the link, Doc. I posted in that thread, saying I was very interested in watching Almonte develop. That was the first time I commented on him, or thought about him, really. I think later we talked about a Kirby-type homer leap. The more I watched the more I drank the Almonte-flavored Kool-Aid.
I Shouted yesterday that I really like his swing from the left side. There is something about his "wait and then explode" attack on the ball that I like. He won't K much, because he's quick enough to get the bat on the ball almost anywhere. And I really like this comment of yours: "He just kind of moves himself to the ball ... I dunno what I'm sayin'. His swing isn't long, how's that."
There's a natural and athletic and not over-coached element to his move to the ball. I really like it. In watching the vid of his HR yesterday (shot from behind, above, and slightly to the right) it almost appeared that there is a bit of Charlie Lau-George Brett to his set up. He's poised on the left leg, relaxed and somewhat crouched. I'm not saying the swing reminds me of Brett, but there is a moment as he begins to move that he "sits back" in a position that is Lau-esque. And there has to be an aiki theory to that kind of set up. As he coils/waits he almost moves without moving. Something like that. I have to watch more. His follow through is different, Brett's was one-armed, but I'm a fan of that two-handed "bludgeon" (to steal your word) finish.
Damon is a neat comparison for this guy. You know that Damon never had an OPS+ better than 118. I didn't. Almonte can get close to that kind of number.
Right now he isn't our 4th or 3rd OF, I think McClendon has him as our 2nd. If we picked up a RH bonking OF bat, don't you think Saunders would move to #4 and not Almonte? I
Right now, I do. Mac likes this guy. I've said a couple of times I'm higher on him than I am Ackley. I'm not sure our field general is, but all the same, this guy is our CF at least into May, IMHO.


Almonte's whole career has been a series of delays. He:
-  gets to the States after growing up in the Dominican
- has to learn English
- switches from second base to CF
- gets a serious alcohol addiction after his dad dies that dogs him for years
- falls out of shape and gets more miserable
- rips up his shoulder and misses a season
And after all that, he:
- has a serious religious come-to-Jesus moment in the literal sense
- crawled off the recovery table and started over in every way
- became a leader on the field and off it
- got in shape, fixed his approach, and is in the bigs with his AAA manager saying he could go to "multiple All-Star Games."
He took the long way.  He has talent, and you can't plot a graph with "fat, self-hating, drunk Almonte" over here and somehow guess what his sober-and-motivated talent ceiling might be.
Just look at how the kid is now and judge him on that.  His history is basically irrelevant. After his recovery, his old Yankees minor league team loved him.  Our scout loved him.  Both his Mariners minors leams loved him, and all our scouts said he should be starting in the bigs today. I loved him when he came to town (because THAT means something...) and now that he's in the bigs the org itself is enthralled with him.
Kid has something.  Whether that something is "just 4th OF" or "hard-working stiff who can be a league-average CF" or "Kyle Seager of CF" it's definitely something.  He'll be in the pros a while, health-willing.
We just need a few of these kids who will have decent careers to start having them all at the same time. Almonte is one of those guys with a good chance to impress - and has already started doing that.


Does remind you at the plate, doesn't he?  Good call.
Your post does underline the point that, sometimes, plotting an age-arc is not the right way to assess a guy.  We'll be able to assess as we watch him play...


This ^^^^
For most guys this statement would not ring true. For this guy, I love the idea. Of course you always run the risk of the fall-back, a la Hamilton, but if you do have a guy that come overcome all of that, I guess this is what it would look like.


I had an interesting medical situation come up yesterday.  Going in for quite a few tests over the next week or so.  Would it be out of place to chat for a bit offline?  If so, you could drop me a line, jeffclarke238 and the server is comcast dottt net ... if not, no problem of course.
Thanks mucho!


You could look at halfway through his 2011 season. 
The 2.5 seasons before (2008, 2009 and 1st half of 2011 since he missed 2010 with the torn shoulder), OPS:
.574 (half season)
Then he shook the rust off.  2nd half of 2011, 2012, and 2013, OPS:
.844 (half season)
.736 (half-ish season due to pulled hamstring)
.876 (until callup)
So yeah... if you want to judge the guy on some sort of stat history, I'd try doing it on the second set of numbers, probably.  Almonte is better than the first half of his career shows, and he drew Brett Gardner comps a lot with the NY folks who system watched.  Gardner walks more, but he just got 4/50 mil for his trouble, starting after this season, for being a 2-3 WAR defensive guy with a nice average who can get on base, steal a buncha bags and hit 20 doubles a year.
Almonte's upper minors profile is pretty similar, swapping a few walks for some more XBHs. Again, if you wanna base it on stats.  I'm perfectly content to like his swing, "intangibles" and hunger for the game at this point.

Jpax's picture

I, too, am loving watching Almonte develop and do so well, with huge potential. My only concern is a minor one regarding Stern's comments about Almonte. Could they be simply a situation that often happens where a coach "happily talking up his players (no matter what the reality really is)"??? Or is there real truth in them?


I posted earlier this offseason about how bugged I was at the easy "5th outfielder" tag Almonte was getting. To me, it was lazy projection, much like the consensus by the football geniuses that Russell Wilson was nothing more than a backup quarterback. I'm glad McLendon does more than fall back on easy stereotypes, much like Pete Wilson does in putting together his teams. Earn it - and brother, Abraham did just that last season. Yeah, we were all looking for some other outfielder in the offseason we could deal away Franklin for. We were looking at Almonte's perceived weaknesses, and ignoring those considerable strengths. We were looking for a Matt Flynn. That's fine, but for heavens sake, do we have to pigeonhole every prospect that comes along like this?


After living through Montero, Ackley (2011-2012), Mangini, Wilson, Snelling, Liddi and Peguero (who is being forgotten here?), we've often come to expect pain, suffering and failure from our position player prospects.  Also, the boom bust cycles of Smoak and the Condor have provided an additional and unique type of torture: Intermittent reinforcement.

Contemplating one more hand
Prospects do arise, and do succeed.  More importantly, if we cannot be optimistic about the Mariners, then what is the point of following the Mariners?  You follow baseball as a fun distraction from your daily grind, and if its not fun anymore, then the club has ceased its purpose.  Also, we have to approach these things on a case by case basis.  Just because Carlos Peguero didn't work out, doesn't mean that PCL OPS is garbage, or the next PCL hotshot won't do something special.  
Rick is right on, that dealing Almonte, or trading for a worse outfielder, or underrating him says more about us than it does about him.  Do we lack prospect esteem?  Do we need to see a therapist?  I can imagine the exercises:
"Repeat after me: Our guys can rake".
"Our guys can . . .ra.  " mumbles.
"That's better.  Now, Say Our guys can run".

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.