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The WAR Room: Naquin, Wendle stack up well despite injuries

Both injured RubberDucks still in good shape after getting hurt

The WAR Room: Naquin, Wendle stack up well despite injuries
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
July 6, 2014
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The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. After looking at the pitchers last week, today we focus on the hitters.

Of course, it is always important to keep context in mind, just like with scouting. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also, the lack of good defensive metrics for the minor leagues means we have to adjust for a range of defensive abilities. To account for this, I will give you each player's WAR with a qualifier: either poor-defense WAR for a poor defender (-10 runs below-average per 162 games), average-defense WAR for an average defender (0 runs per 162 games), or great-defense WAR for a great defender (10 runs above-average per 162 games).

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

Today we look at the hitters throughout the system. Next week we will do the pitchers. For the full stats, go ahead and click here. Stats are updated through Friday, July 4.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 51 166 2.3 2.7 3.0
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 36 136 1.5 1.7 1.9
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 68 245 1.2 1.6 2.0
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 62 197 1.1 1.5 1.9
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 56 222 1.0 1.3 1.7
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 46 190 1.0 1.3 1.6
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 41 132 0.8 1.1 1.3
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 67 232 0.5 0.9 1.3
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 48 178 0.4 0.7 1.0
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 81 292 0.2 0.7 1.2
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 27 76 0.3 0.5 0.6
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 68 226 0.0 0.4 0.8
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 67 236 0.0 0.4 0.8
Adam Abraham Indians (AAA) 27 18 55 0.0 0.1 0.2
Todd Hankins Indians (AAA) 23 2 7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jason Kipnis Indians (AAA) 27 3 9 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 2 7 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 4 12 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Nyjer Morgan Indians (AAA) 33 15 60 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
George Kottaras Indians (AAA) 31 14 42 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
David Cooper Indians (AAA) 27 40 143 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2
Bryan LaHair Indians (AAA) 31 10 35 -0.5 -0.5 -0.4

Roberto Perez (Photo: MiLB)Catcher Roberto Perez is still leading the way for the Clippers with a 3.0 great-defense WAR in 51 games this season. But the real question now is how much of Perez's success -- namely on the offense side -- is sustainable now and in the future. Perez's .413 BABIP (133 BABIP+) is absolutely unsustainable and will regress, which will bring the catcher's offense down a notch. Plus, Perez never hit for this type of power before, indicating his .223 isolated power (171 ISO+) will probably also regress. It is possible that Perez simply developed as a hitter -- possibly aided by no longer suffering from Bell's palsy -- but the more likely result is this is more a hot streak than a full-blown breakout. But Perez is still a good player without hitting out of his mind; keeping even a little of this offensive growth will make a big difference for the 25-year-old.

Thanks to a superb June, outfielder Carlos Moncrief's season statistics on offense are up to average, giving the outfielder 1.2 great-defense WAR in 81 games. The bad news with Moncrief, though, is how his season is built on poor plate discipline. After improving his strikeout rate by leaps and bounds in 2013, Moncrief regressed back this season while he simultaneously stopped drawing walks. Though hitters can make a 25.4 percent strikeout rate (129 K%+) and 5.6 percent walk rate (62 BB%+) work, this is not the ideal combination for Moncrief. Until Moncrief fixes his strikeout and walk rates, his ceiling is more limited than it looked following his breakout 2013.

Though outfielder Tyler Holt has only played in 36 games with the Clippers (and was called up to Cleveland today to take the injured Michael Bourn's spot), the 25-year-old is second only to Perez with a 1.9 great-defense WAR. Some of Holt's performance is unsustainable, though his .367 BABIP (119 BABIP+) is not wildly outrageous. Holt's offense is based more on his low 14.9 percent strikeout rate (76 K%+) and 17.3 percent walk rate (191 BB%+), things that opposing pitchers will likely adjust to his second and third times around the league. The 25-year-old has shown a willingness to take a walk when it is given to him, meaning pitchers need to start challenging him; what Holt does with those challenges will be critical in determining how good he will be the rest of the season.

Utility infielder Audy Ciriaco played all over the diamond for the Clippers in 2014, putting in 15 games at first base, 15 at second base, 13 at third base, 14 at shortstop, and even one in center field. But even with bouncing around all season the 27-year-old put up results, posting 1.5 average-defense WAR in 62 games for the Clippers. Ciriaco may not be a prospect for the organization, but players like him are the glue that hold minor league rosters together. The top prospects may be impressive to follow, but what the Audy Ciriacos of the minors do is impressive as well.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Tyler Naquin Indians (AA) 23 76 304 1.7 2.2 2.7
Francisco Lindor Indians (AA) 20 75 290 1.4 1.9 2.3
Joey Wendle Indians (AA) 24 76 297 0.8 1.2 1.7
Anthony Gallas Indians (AA) 26 21 85 1.0 1.1 1.2
Tyler Holt Indians (AA) 25 39 124 0.6 0.8 1.1
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AA) 22 24 90 0.7 0.8 1.0
Bryson Myles Indians (AA) 24 54 195 0.5 0.8 1.2
Tony Wolters Indians (AA) 22 73 267 0.2 0.7 1.1
Bryan LaHair Indians (AA) 31 56 207 0.3 0.7 1.0
Alex Lavisky Indians (AA) 23 37 130 0.3 0.5 0.7
Justin Toole Indians (AA) 27 33 80 0.2 0.4 0.6
Ollie Linton Indians (AA) 28 21 58 0.1 0.3 0.4
Adam Abraham Indians (AA) 27 7 30 0.2 0.2 0.3
Erik Gonzalez Indians (AA) 22 6 27 0.1 0.2 0.2
Jake Lowery Indians (AA) 23 34 109 0.0 0.2 0.4
Nick Swisher Indians (AA) 33 2 6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Ronny Rodriguez Indians (AA) 22 71 261 -0.5 0.0 0.4
Michael Bourn Indians (AA) 31 3 13 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Charlie Valerio Indians (AA) 23 9 27 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Jason Giambi Indians (AA) 43 3 8 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (AA) 24 12 33 -0.5 -0.4 -0.4
Jordan Smith Indians (AA) 23 77 277 -1.7 -1.3 -0.8

Tyler Naquin (Photo: MiLB)A pair of injuries decimated the top prospect appeal in Akron, with center fielder Tyler Naquin (broken hand) and second baseman Joey Wendle (broken hamate) out for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of the season. As it is, Naquin exits while leading the RubberDucks with a 2.7 great-defense WAR in 76 games. Some of that offensive value is coming from his .389 BABIP (126 BABIP+), but the center fielder also got his strikeout issues under control. After starting the season striking out too frequently, Naquin had his strikeout all the way down to 20.8 percent (111 K%+) at the time of his injury. When combined with his solid 8.5 percent walk rate (101 BB%+) and great defense in center field, Naquin really answered a lot of the questions surrounding his future; now he just needs to continue it when he is healthy again.

Wendle, on the other hand, was only on pace for a roughly average season with his 1.2 average-defense WAR in 76 games, but the second baseman was trending in the right direction. The 24-year-old is still hurt by a .286 BABIP (92 BABIP+), a number that should rise given Wendle's quality of contact. With Wendle's low walk and strikeout rates (6.7 percent walk rate, 79 BB%+; 15.6 strikeout rate, 83 K%+), the second baseman's results are very dependent on whether the balls are falling for hits or not. Given Wendle's impressive power -- both last year and in 2014 (.172 isolated power, 130 ISO+) -- it is quite likely his result would have continued trending up if he had not been injured.

Outfielder Anthony Gallas has done nothing but hit since being called up to Akron, putting up a 190 wRC+ and 1.1 average-defense WAR in only 21 games. Much attention has been called to Gallas' issues with strikeouts and walks, but in the early going, the outfielder actually has a league-average 19.1 percent strikeout rate (102 K%+). Of course, that league-average strikeout rate does not work as well when combined with a 1.1 percent walk rate (13 BB%+), but it does offer some hope since Gallas is not striking out at an abnormal pace. Gallas' .448 BABIP (145 BABIP+) and .294 isolated power (222 ISO+) will not last, but with a few more walks, the coming regression will not devastate his value.

Since the May 25 edition of The WAR Room -- also known as the last time right fielder Jordan Smith got a write up -- the 23-year-old has seen his great-defense WAR drop from -0.6 to -0.8 in 77 games. But the good news is despite still playing a little below replacement level, Smith is starting to trend upward. Smith has begun to regain his great approach at the plate, dropping his strikeout rate from 23.1 percent (123 K%+) to 17.9 percent (95 K%+) in just six weeks. The overall results have not quite followed after Smith's BABIP fell from .275 (90 BABIP+) to .271 BABIP (88 BABIP+) in that time, but the fact he is not striking out anymore is really helping him.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 72 267 1.3 1.8 2.2
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 59 228 1.1 1.5 1.9
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.8 1.2 1.6
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 58 241 0.8 1.1 1.5
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 38 139 0.9 1.1 1.3
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 55 191 0.7 1.1 1.4
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 73 245 0.3 0.8 1.2
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 25 100 0.6 0.8 0.9
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 50 189 0.4 0.7 1.0
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 25 91 0.5 0.7 0.9
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 23 75 0.4 0.6 0.7
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 53 195 0.2 0.5 0.9
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 58 218 0.0 0.4 0.8
Charlie Valerio Indians (A+) 23 17 53 0.1 0.2 0.3
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 47 158 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Cody Ferrell Indians (A+) 24 4 6 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Torsten Boss Indians (A+)/O 23 28 99 -0.3 -0.1 0.1
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 17 50 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1

Yandy Diaz (Photo: MiLB)Unlike Naquin and Wendle -- who just got injured -- third baseman Yandy Diaz and first baseman Joe Sever are just now getting back on the field after being injured on opening day. Diaz has made a good adjustment to stateside ball, posting an easily above-average 0.7 average-defense WAR in 25 games. Diaz walked more than he has struck out in the early going, with a 14.8 percent strikeout rate (75 K%+) and 15.7 percent walk rate (181 BB%+), results that are supporting the third baseman's below-average .077 isolated power (61 ISO+). The long-term picture for Diaz looks best with some more power, but having a great approach at the plate cures a lot of ills.

Sever is also hitting for very little power (.070 isolated power, 55 BB%+), but unlike Diaz, his 0.8 average-defense WAR in 25 games is being supported more by a high BABIP than a high walk rate. The first baseman is doing a good job at the plate -- walking at an average 8.8 percent rate (102 BB%+) while rarely striking out (11.4 percent strikeout rate, 58 K%+) -- but Sever's .391 BABIP (126 BABIP+) is the big thing supporting his offense to date. There is no reason Sever cannot find some power going forward to replace his BABIP as it regresses, but without that, it will be hard for the first baseman to live up to the high offensive standards of the position.

After missing a lot of time last year, outfielder Luigi Rodriguez is putting up an above-average 1.1 WAR in 55 games. At only 21 years old in the Carolina League, Rodriguez is pairing an average 20.4 percent strikeout rate (104 K%+) with a 13.7 percent walk rate (158 BB%+), leading to a strong 118 wRC+. Rodriguez always had the talent to be a top prospect and seemed to fall off due to inconsistencies brought on by injuries; assuming the 21-year-old is all the way back and healthy, there is a good chance Rodriguez is back on his way up the ladder.

The interesting thing about WAR is the positional adjustment: someone playing designated hitter needs to hit more to have value than a catcher. Given that Alex Monsalve has split his time almost equally between catcher and designated hitter, his 93 wRC+ does not look nearly as good as it would if he were only catching. The end result is a 0.4 average-defense WAR in 58 games, a mark that would more than double to 1.0 if he were a full-time catcher. Now, Monsalve's offense could suffer if he had to squat behind the plate in each game as opposed to sitting on the bench, but the point is Monsalve projects much better as a catcher and splitting time at catcher with Jeremy Lucas is really hurting his value based on WAR.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Paul Hendrix Indians (A) 22 67 239 1.8 2.2 2.6
Eric Haase Indians (A) 21 55 208 1.7 2.1 2.4
Grant Fink Indians (A) 23 77 271 0.9 1.3 1.8
Clint Frazier Indians (A) 19 68 276 0.6 1.1 1.5
Claudio Bautista Indians (A) 20 74 286 0.6 1.0 1.5
Nellie Rodriguez Indians (A) 20 78 283 0.3 0.8 1.3
Richard Stock Indians (A) 23 31 108 0.4 0.6 0.7
Logan Vick Indians (A) 23 16 59 0.0 0.1 0.2
Dorssys Paulino Indians (A) 19 66 252 -0.4 0.1 0.5
Shane Rowland Indians (A) 22 3 10 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 48 151 -0.4 -0.1 0.2
Torsten Boss Indians (A) 23 21 70 -0.2 -0.1 0.1
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A) 22 1 3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ivan Castillo Indians (A) 19 38 123 -0.5 -0.2 0.0
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 47 160 -0.6 -0.3 0.0
Jorge Martinez Indians (A) 21 15 48 -0.5 -0.4 -0.3
Josh McAdams Indians (A) 20 28 101 -0.8 -0.6 -0.4
Anthony Santander Indians (A) 19 43 163 -1.1 -0.8 -0.6

Paul Hendrix (Photo: MiLB)Also featured in the May 25 edition of The WAR Room was Lake County infielder Paul Hendrix, who had a 1.8 average-defense WAR at the time. Since then, Hendrix has only performed at an average level as he has started to regress back to a more normal level. Hendrix's 2.2 average-defense WAR in 67 games remains impressive, but he is going to continue to regress as his .396 BABIP (127 BABIP+) falls. The infielder could use the challenge of a promotion to Carolina to see if he can keep hitting like this, though a promotion could potentially make his 30.1 percent strikeout rate (149 K%+) go even higher. Hendrix is showing some impressive things this season, though there is still work to do in the months and years ahead for the 22-year-old.

Since these stats are only updated through Friday, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez's two home runs and double from Saturday are not included. Even without them, however, Rodriguez owns a .184 isolated power (154 ISO+) as the 20-year-old has shown the power that makes him special as a prospect. The problem is the rest of Rodriguez's game is not up to the same level as his power yet, as the first baseman owns a slightly below-average 0.8 average-defense WAR through 78 games this season. Rodriguez frequently hit the ball hard this season, but combining a high 26.5 percent strikeout rate (131 K%+) and 11.4 percent walk rate (132 BB%+) leaves the first baseman more reliant on BABIP to support his on-base percentage than is ideal. Given that Rodriguez is not the fastest player, his .291 BABIP (93 BABIP+) is pretty normal, leaving the 20-year-old with an average .323 on-base percentage (99 OBP+) that his power does not quite cancel out.

Catcher Eric Haase is still destroying Midwest League pitching -- posting a .264 isolated power (221 ISO+) so far in 2014 -- leading to an All-Star level 1.7 poor-defense WAR in 55 games. With Haase's .298 BABIP (95 BABIP+) finally around a normal level, we are clearly seeing how his power-heavy offense and 9.4 percent walk rate (109 BB%+) make up for an elevated 27.9 percent strikeout rate (138 K%+). Haase's performance seems to merit a promotion to Carolina -- especially since this is the catcher's second full season in Low-A -- but the 21-year-old is still toiling away in Lake County. Part of it could be there is no spot in Carolina, though the fact Haase still needs to work on defense also likely plays a part. Either way, Haase is doing well in 2014 and looks like an interesting guy to follow going forward.

The beneficiary of most of Lake County's time at shortstop recently has been Ivan Castillo, who struggled in that time with a 0.0 great-defense WAR in 38 games. Castillo's major strength is his defense, though his ability with the glove cannot make up for a 50 wRC+. The silver lining for Castillo is his .245 BABIP (78 BABIP+) should go up in time, something that will help given the number of balls the 19-year-old puts in play. Castillo's 15.9 percent strikeout rate (79 K%+) and 4.3 percent walk rate (50 BB%+) are both lower than the Midwest League average, leaving Castillo's .256 on-base percentage (78 OBP+) at the mercy of his BABIP. The shortstop is not likely to ever become a power hitter -- which you can see in his .073 isolated power (61 ISO+) -- but seeing more hits fall in will really help carry Castillo's offense in the future.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

yourtribe
July 6, 2014 - 4:21 PM EDT
Naquin needs to be in col as soon as he's ready. And in clev next year if we can dump bourn.

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