As you know, everything Bill James says is true, and he wrote something pertaining to Mitch Haniger. My duty is obviously to pass it on. (BJOL is still only $3 per month.)
Well, he wrote something about Dwight Evans. I think it was DaddyO who wrote that Haniger strikes him as the spitting image of Evans, both statistically and stylistically. I agree with that 1,000% and probably a bunch of Denizens do too. ... I agree even more after reading something James wrote.
He did a three-part series on "Rookie Surprises," a gorgeous study on which rookies went on to disappoint, or to surprise positively, from a given rookie year. For example, he points out that Omar Vizquel 1989 would have projected to a feeble 26 career WAR* but that Little O actually went on to amass 94.
P.S. He mentioned that the 1989 Mariners' rookie class was THE greatest in baseball history (Unit, Junior, Edgar, and Vizquel). The aforementioned Dr. D of two months ago would have snarked at this point about the Mariners' 40-year menagerie of dysfunction for -- among many, many other things -- doing so little with a rookie class like that; the Dr. D of today will do no such thing.
...The BEST rookie class EVER! :: smh ::
P.P.S. This 3-part pot of oyster soup is so loaded with fresh mollusks that I'm hoping to do quite a few articles off it.
Inside the oyster pot there is an interesting list: the 25 most pleasant young-player surprises in history. For example, Paul Konerko 1997 is on the list; based off his rookie year James would have projected 26 WAR* but Konerko made 6 All-Star teams and finished with 86; notice the similarity to Omar's totals.
P.S. James noticed as part of this study that many, perhaps most, of the players on his 25-man list were used out of position early, as the Dodgers used Konerko at 3B early in his career. This is the type of light bulb that I absolutely love finding buried in James studies. .... also that most of them were traded early, as Konerko was. How are you going to notice patterns like that without James-style historical-arc studies?!
Steve Garvey's on his list; so is Michael Young. Garry Sheffield you'll agree with right away.
Anyway, by now you've guessed that Evans is on the list of 25 most extreme such young players who ever lived. Bill writes,
Batted just .223 in 119 games as a rookie. 55% of rookies who hit .220 to .229 will retire with less than 600 career games, and Evans did not explode on the league in his second year; kind of like Tony Phillips, he didn’t really find himself as a hitter until he was about 30.
He hit .272 in his career, but while he hit "only" .272 he had 3,214 secondary bases in his career, as opposed to 2,447 hits. Secondary bases are extra bases on hits (Evans had 1,745), walks (1,391) and stolen bases (78). On average over time, there are about as many secondary bases as hits. Doc Cramer had 2,705 hits but only 1,259 secondary bases.
A player with significantly more secondary bases than hits will virtually always also have more runs scored + RBI than hits, and a player with significantly fewer secondary bases than hits will almost always have less. In this case, Evans had 2,447 hits but 2,861 runs scored and RBI, while Cramer had 2,705 hits but only 2,199 runs scored and hits. Evans as a rookie projected for just 94 career Win Shares, but actually had 347.
Isn't that a great little light bulb, that last about Runs and RBI? You could watch an entire baseball season through that lens. You could, if you were cynical, view the high-hit, low-walk low-power guys as being paid way too much and the other kind of player as scoreboard-changers you can't collect enough of.
So: Dr. D is a HUGE believer in the idea that it matters more how young a rookie is than how good he is, and that's been his one worry about Mitch Haniger. The tidbit about Evans' late development is gigantically comforting to him on that score.
Mitch had 183 runs and RBI last year -- 90 runs and 93 RBI. He had 170 hits. He had 202 secondary bases. Some guys look fancy; other guys Change The Blinkin' Scoreboard. ... One thing the Jerry Dipoto Mariners do not lack for, right now, are core pieces around which to build.