Thursday, February 19, 2009

A cautionary tale about Great Big Pasty White Hopes

We've probably been as guilty as anyone when it comes to heaping expectations on The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider. Not only do we expect him to be the future of the franchise...we expect him to be one of the few glimmers of hope in the 2009 season.

Which is why we were stuck by a recent discussion that we heard on a Baseball Prospectus podcast discussing the state of the Kansas City Royals' prospects for the coming season.

In the conversation with J.J. Picollo, the Royals' Director of Player Development, it was noted that KC likely made a tactical mistake in their hasty promotion of their own great hope for the future of the franchise, Alex Gordon. After an outstanding season in 2006 at Wichita (29 HRs, 101 RsBI, 1.015 OPS), Gordon was rushed to the majors, and never saw a pitch at the triple-A level. This, in spite of the fact that he was probably striking out too much (113 Ks in 486 ABs), and would have benefited from an extra half season in the minors to adjust to a higher calibre of pitching.

While Gordon has made strides over his first two seasons, his rookie year (at age 23) was scarcely the breakout season that most of the prospect punditocracy expected : 15 HRs, 60 RsBI, .725 OPS and 147 Ks in 543 ABs. Last season, Gordon cut down on his strikeouts and took a few more walks, but even with those improvements, his numbers over 134 games didn't live up to the hype and promise (15 HRs, 59 RsBI and a .783 OPS).

Considering that Snider's minor league totals are in the same general neighbourhood as Gordon's, we are reminded that our "conservative" notions of 20 homers and 70 RsBIs and an OPS over .800 might be a tad optimistic. As much hope as we hold out for Snider and the impact he can have on this year's offense, it's worth remembering that he whiffed 177 times between all four levels he played at last year.

Not to be a killjoy, but we might have to scale back our expectations a bit on our new favourite Jay.

21 comments:

dave said...

Stop being even handed!

Earlier today I read the SportingNews.com's preseason predictions for the Jays and their only positive was that Snider would hit 25-30 homers and almost high-fived my computer screen.

Now this.

You're right, though. Slow and steady is better than rushing him. Even if it means having him in AAA at the start of the season and having Millista with the Jays.

stonedog said...

Hasn't JP put some feelers out there towards the idea that Travis might not start the year with the big club? Maybe it would be better to give Travis the chance to rip it up in AAA for a month or two, but I suppose if he has a good to great Spring Training, it would be hard to make that call.

Kingok said...

Get off of my cloud TOS, Snidyman is a freeking wrecking ball. I foresee 2009 playing out thusly...Snidy puts up 35/125, takes the city...no the country by storm asks me to become his agent after which I relish in the hangerson of the B-list Canadian celebrities he starts banging. Seriously, I can't wait to nail Annie Wilson's hairdresser.

Kingok said...

Get off of my cloud TOS, Snidyman is a freeking wrecking ball. I foresee 2009 playing out thusly...Snidy puts up 35/125, takes the city...no the country by storm asks me to become his agent after which I relish in the hangerson of the B-list Canadian celebrities he starts banging. Seriously, I can't wait to nail Annie Wilson's hairdresser.

eyebleaf said...

Tao, you are a wise sage, and I respect you the utmost, but I refuse to scale back my expectations. No way!

The Ack said...

I'm a little torn up about this, but I think I've talked myself into believing that he should start in AAA, and get the call up after TEARING THE FUCKING COVER OFF THE BALL for a few months.

But really, if he hits during spring, how do you send him down now?

Lloyd the Barber said...

Alex Gordan is one thing, even more telling is KC's OTHER big pasty white hope that rushed through the minors Billy Butler. 11 home runs in 124 games? not terrible, but not fulfilling the GBPWH status

Tao of Stieb said...

@Ack

We have two words for anyone putting stock into spring training stats: Gabe Gross.

Darren Priest said...

I hope Gordon lives up to the hype soon, I am keeping him in our keeper league.

The Ack said...

Oh, I agree. Spring stats don't amount to jack.

Just sayin', he was anointed as The Chosen One by season's end last year, and even with JP backing off on handing him a major league job this season with the presence of Millista (I'm warming to the term), he's still saying "if he has a good spring....".

But, yeah, probably best to let him start in Vegas. Unless, of course, he has a raging gambling problem we don't know about. Because that wouldn't be cool.

Tao of Stieb said...

Also, there's the whole inexpensive buffet aspect of Vegas that gives us the heebie jeebies with Snider.

Anonymous said...

Fuck off Parkes

Anonymous said...

Five more words on spring training:

Simon Pond and Jerry Schunk

Tao of Stieb said...

Simon Pond...wow. We'd almost completely wiped him from our memory.

Anonymous said...

So is the point that Gordon's first two years in the Majors would have been better if they were in the minors? I'm always confused by this line of thinking. That, if given a season in AAA, he would have hit 30 homeruns as a rookie, this past season? I need more evidence. Like maybe the brewers were clearly following an incorrect course of action by only giving Ryan Braun 350AB above A-ball.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe an extra year at AAA isn't enough. I mean 600 ABs seems kind of arbitrary. Maybe 1000 AB's at AAA is required before we let stud prospects test their fragile demeanor on hallowed turf. 1000 is a nicer number than 600.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the idea of Snider spending April in the AAA. It seemed to work great for Evan Longoria. Although if Snides does stay with the big club let's not all get down on the kid when he goes through the eventual growing pains of being a rookie facing big league sliders and curves

Tao of Stieb said...

It's funny, Mr. Anonymous, how you throw out round and arbitrary numbers, then accuse us of being an absolutist. That wasn't what we were saying at all.

Our arguments are this:

1) Snider is a highly regarded prospect of whom we expect a lot in his first full year, as was Gordon.

2) Gordon didn't perform in at the major league level as one might have supposed given his minor league stats.

3) A more gradual promotion curve may have benefited Gordon, as he would have had the opportunity to see better pitchers who throw fewer mistake pitches and who can locate their breaking balls.

4) Given all this, maybe we should temper our expectations of the Great Big Pasty White Hope.

And really, if you want to throw Ryan Braun into the argument at random, it's worth mentioning that when he was 21, Braun wasn't in the majors...he was in Rookie ball and low A.

When Snider's 23, he's going to kick ass and not bother taking names. But he's not going to be 23 for two more years.

Do you get where we're coming from ass hole?

Anonymous said...

hey what's with the hostility tao.

i don't get where you're coming from. here's a starter: don't expect too much from him, just expect more than he'll give you if he's in the minors. He's going to have to learn to hit in the majors, and the timing couldn't be better, with the state of the division being what it is. if he struggles, send him down.

Anonymous said...

braun is in reference to gordon. you were the one who decided to compare snider to a collegian. why not compare snider to other hitters who debuted as 20 year olds in the majors.

by the way, tao....i'll be cheeky and rude and you can beat me up and abuse me on your blog. but your still an awesome blogger.

Tao of Stieb said...

Aww, shucks.