Wladdy hit a 495-ft. HR on 10/2/2009 which was the 4th longest HR since ESPN started officially tracking HR distance, and *no one* in the majors has hit a farther one since then (Giancarlo Stanton came 1 ft. short with a Coors-aided bomb last month).
I've been going back through old minor league seasons as I put together the roll-out of all the minor-league statistical analysis over at Stalk (which I begin today, by the way), and there was really only one name that kept coming up as a guy who shouldn't have been a bust, but was. And that was Wladimir Balentien.
Wlad and Adam Jones came up together. Wlad is a year older. Based on their minor league stats, is there much reason to think that Jones should be an MLB star and Wlad a nobody? No, not at all. Besides the fact that Jones is a center fielder, Wlad put up stellar minor-league seasons right with Jones ... except better. Drew more walks than Jones; struck out less often.
So whatever happened to our old pal? He's in Tokyo with the Yakult Swallows, and ... after one season of middling-but-productive stats (31 HR, .228/.314/.469), all of a sudden at age 27 Wlad is a superstar:
- 91 G, 366 PA, 82 H, 13 2b, 29 HR, 57 BB, 78 K
- 15.6% BB rate (over 10% is excellent)
- 21.3% K rate (plenty reasonble for a slugger)
- 7.9% HR/PA (sure, it's Japan, but Josh Hamilton leads MLB at 7.1%)
29 homers and 57 walks in 91 games? I assume as an import player he can be a free agent.
I don't know how that would translate to Safeco, and I'm not suggesting Wlad as a substitute for a Hamilton-level acquisition, but it seems a lot more tantalizing than what we hope Wells or Thames might produce.
There will be some interest in him. .264-.352-.427=105 OPS during his Cincy half of '09. Decent AAA numbers in '10. Then the 60 taters in 231 Japanese games.
I hope it isn't Seattle interest.
Balentien was a remnant of the previous regime. New broom sweeps clean...
Good catch Spec!
I had no idea he'd hit a 500-footer in the bigs. The huge Japanese success has me wondering about his chances to pull a Cecil Fielder; he also was a power hitter who sharpened his teeth on all those deceptive offspeed pitches. Then came back to the challenge pitches and hit 50 homers here.
Wlad final stats:
106 G, 422 PA, 96 H, 13 2b, 0 3b, 31 HR, 64 BB, 92 K
Yakult's best-of-three playoff series:
Game 1: HR, 2 K
Game 2: HR, 2 BB
Game 3: single, 3 BB
In the regular season, one of every 4 PAs was either a home run or a walk. In the playoff series (which they lost, 2 games to 1), it was 7 of 12.
You're right Jack Z. flushed him once, but Jack also ought be pretty familar with the Cecil Fielder story.
Anyway, Wlad ought to be cheaper than Angel Pagan. Just sayin'.