If you just joined us in the bleacher seats :- ) at Bill James Online, the last 15-25 "Hey Bill" mailbag questions are always up in front of the (mere $3) paywall. Also, Bill has given us at SSI a free hand to excerpt him. That reflects James' displeasure with the "gimme gimme gimme" authors who resent anybody reading their professional material without sending them a dollar first. He suggested once that such an author should be removed from all public libraries ... as well as from any other public attention ...
For thirty years, baseball fans have considered James a sort of free public resource, walking up to him in lunch cafeterias and sitting down and all that stuff. As a rule he's taken this attitude very genially. One thing that counts huge in his favor, you ask me.
They talk(ed) politics at BJOL as well, though the last month or so it's been limited to Harry Truman and other relics of the past. :- ) American politics, ah, America itself, has just gotten too hot to handle. Don't know why this paragraph is in here, but ... Abe Lincoln during the Civil War, "if you don't laugh at it you'll wind up crying." Feel free to laugh at both candidates in SSI article Shout Boxes, but smile when yer do it ...
He said this today re: Dan Vogelbach. From our standpoint, re 'Bach.
There is a certain level of hitter--the David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez level of hitter--who is always seriously undervalued as he is coming along. You take any of those guys or anybody really like him, and you will find SOME scouting reports written about him as a young player saying that he can't play and will never make it.
The reason this happens is that scouts are trained to be skeptical of guys who can JUST hit. The scouts see lots and lots of guys who can hit, but who can't do anything else. A scout goes to a college game, picks up the stat sheet; EVERY GAME there is going to be some big guy who is the best hitter on one of the teams, bats cleanup for them, but can't run or throw. You can't use them. You get in the habit of just writing them off; you can't use them.
But then once in a while, once every 10 years, there is that guy who is like that but who is SUCH a good hitter that the other stuff doesn't matter. But from the amateur scout's perspective, it is very, very difficult to know who that one guy is. (I had originally written that "there is no way of knowing", which is generally true, but you know. . .maybe a scout can see something.) But when a kid is battering college pitching, there is really no way to know whether he is that one hitter in 5,000 who is SUCH a good hitter than he is just going to continue to beat the hell out of pitchers as he moves along the ladder. You don't know that, so the David Ortiz/ Frank Thomas /Edgar Martinez /Cecil Fielder gets put into the same bucket with all of the other guys who can hit but can't run or throw.
(1) Notice that James is not relating the way HE sees it; he is relating the way guys like Jerry DiPoto see it. You can infer that DiPoto is hoping for a lottery ticket at a big-time hitter in 'Bach.
(2) The other add: Servais' odd remark, a week or two ago, that Vogelbach will hit for very plus power in the big leagues.
(3) We scalded cats are quite used to having pots of Justin Smoak hot oil poured on us. We kinda have to shake that off.
Once again ... even in Seattle we've seen at least our share of results come out of our system. Kyle Seager has become, at least to this point, the Seattle version of Sal Bando - a key 3-4-5 RBI man playing a sparkling third base. Mike Zunino is back in the top-3 pick conversation, slugging .496 in the bigs this year. Nick Franklin, now age 25,has a 119 OPS this year. Brad Miller, now age 26, is slugging .497 this year. Michael Saunders, maybe a late bloomer, is slugging .490 at age 29 along with all the other things he does.
You can be sure that James' take, for what it's worth, is that we Seattle fans overreacted to Smoak, Ackley, and Montero, and refused to Alex-Gordon it on the other guys. If that be so, we should be as enthused about Dan Vogelbach for next year, as we were about all the other guys before him.
Head says yes; heart says no. But the head also says that if Vogelbach (age 23 this year) became an Anthony Rizzo (age 24.5 when he started raking) comp, nobody should be shocked.
Here's a Marc Hulet projection to .280/.380+/.480 for Vogelbach.
drawing: Gene Haas