I'll be rolling out my "Spectometer" STAT-Scan for the "end of May (-ish)" (ha!), and it will be the first time I've done so on the "Big Blog."
So I thought I'd do a little explanatory post.
As with Jeff (Doc/jemanji), who graciously let me start noodling in his space, I tend to envelop my stuff in our own version of info-tainment (cheesy nicknames and the like), because, hey, it's the Internet, not a peer-reviewed journal.
The stuff is not just plucked out of the sky. There is actually a multi-year effort involved here, and the fundamental question throughout is:
What can we identify in a player's minor-league track record that distinguishes players with a strong likelihood of major-league success from players with a poor likelihood of success?
We spent a lot of time looking at the minor-league records of successful MLB players in a variety of ways, and also looking, in bulk, at minor-league stats to see if, in fact, the players who showed the same traits were the ones who made it in the majors.
What we came up with is this:
There is only one Iron Law: VERY, VERY FEW "MAKE IT"
Always, always, always keep that in mind. Even among the "can't miss," many will "miss." And among the "darkhorses" and "sleepers" ... most of them will "miss."
But that doesn't mean we can't identify "sleepers," only that many of them will end up failing.
On the other hand, what we can be quite good at is identifying guys whose chances are remote (Casper Wells, Carlos Peguero), and distinguishing them from guys with a much better chance (Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders).
How do we do that?
Plate Skills + Production + Age-Arc
- Hitting the ball hard when you get a "hitter's pitch" is a "Plate Skill" in the same way as identifying balls and strikes. Giancarlo Stanton murdering a "mistake" pitch is a Plate Skill.
- Hitting singles doesn't count as "Production" in our big picture (trying to identify guys who can succeed in the majors), but walking does ( essentially, XBH + BB = Production).
- "Age-arc" for a hitter means you need to be moving up the ladder on course to hit AAA by age 23, and demonstrating Plate Skills and Production on the way.
- For pitchers, "age-arc" tends to work in one direction (Taijuan Walker succeeding in AA at age 19), but not the other (Bobby LaFromboise isn't necessarily toast just because he's still in AA at 26, but Joseph Dunigan is toast for the same reason).
So ... you're best bets are the guys who show all those traits at the same time.
But some percentage find MLB success without showing all three. I found that all of these fell into one of three categories:
- The Slugger Who Walks. Guys who "outslug" their high strikeout rate by hitting a lot of home runs and drawing enough walks.
- The Low-K Power Guy. Hitters who don't show consistent all-around skills, but have the ability to hit the ball hard while maintaining a low K%, and survive that way.
- The Plate Skills Technician. Guys who don't hit for power, but walk enough and keep a low strikeout rate, such that they can survive while relying on more singles.
I have yet to find a successful MLB hitter who didn't fit either the all-around "Prodcution + Plate Skills + Age-Arc" template in the minors or one of the other three secondary types. That's not saying there isn't one, but they're hard to find.
So the stats I developed are aimed at scanning for those attributes, and the "Three Numbers" at the end are a way of summarizing they key attributes on a 100-scale, easy-to-grasp nutshell.