The WAR Room: The 2013 Carolina and Lake County hitters
Wendle's elite hitting leads the system in 2013
For one final time, The WAR Room will bring you the advanced statistics from the 2013 season. Starting next week, we will begin evaluating the 2014 stats, as at that point the number of games played will be enough to yield useful stats.
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).
But enough with the introduction. Below are the advanced statistics for the 2013 Carolina Mudcat and Lake County Captain hitters:
The best defense-neutral WAR in the whole system in 2013 belonged to second baseman Joe Wendle, who put up an elite 4.2 WAR in only 107 games. Wendle could have ended up even higher if he had not missed part of the season with an eye injury suffered on an errant grounder, though he still managed to finish first. Hitting in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League, Wendle posted a 143 wRC+ and 173 ISO+ while walking at an average rate and limiting strikeouts (100 BB%+, 86 K%+).
The question for Wendle following these sterling stats was how much of his success stemmed from playing most of the season in High-A at 23 years old. On one hand, Wendle could only face the batters the organization put him up against, and the second baseman certainly took care of business in High-A. On the other, bumping Wendle's prospect stock based on 2013 could look really bad if he really was just using his experience to take advantage of Carolina League pitchers. Wendle is struggling in 2014 -- as his power has regressed in Akron -- though a wildly-low BABIP should allow the second baseman to see his offense rebound throughout the season. How far he rebounds, however, remains to be seen.
Catchers, catchers everywhere
Wolters, who made the transition from middle infield to catching as spring training was ending, took to the position well by all scouting reports. But even taking defense out of the equation, Wolters managed to post a 1.5 defense-neutral WAR in only 80 games, an impressive mark considering he spent quite a bit of time at designated hitter (to keep his bat in the lineup while working on catching on the side) and had to learn an entire new position on the fly. Wolters' strong batting eye makes up for his lack of power in 2013 (130 BB%+, 88 K%+, 60 ISO+), though he could use a little more pop as he moves up to Akron in 2014.
Haase is still a little rough behind the plate, but even if we are harsh with the defensive rating, the catcher still posted an above-average 1.6 poor-defense WAR in 104 games. Considering Haase probably is not that bad defensively, it makes the catcher's performance in his age-20 season all the more impressive. Though the catcher had plenty of strikeouts (144 K%+), Haase's power (157 ISO+) and solid ability to draw walks (106 BB%+) set him up with a nicely above-average line. Cleveland's catching surplus Cleveland has Haase back in Lake County for now where he is hitting even better (just like you are supposed to when repeating a level).
Finally, Lucas did not play extensively behind the dish in 2014, but the catcher still made some waves after coming into the season unranked in IBI's top 100. Lucas posted a 1.9 poor-defense WAR in 75 games (again, like Haase, Lucas probably is not quite that bad defensively), a borderline All-Star-level performance that can help get you noticed. Of course, Lucas doing this in Low-A during his age-22 season is a little less impressive, but the catcher is still showing off his hitting ability in 2014 with Carolina. As long as Lucas keeps hitting as he moves up the ladder and faces more age-appropriate competition, he will see his profile continue to rise.
When it's going good, it's going great
As we start wrapping up this week's edition of The WAR Room, let's start riffing on Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie." Because why not.
Top prospect Francisco Lindor was profiled a little bit previously on The WAR Room, but he spent most of his 2013 season with the Mudcats. Lindor earned his callup to Akron with a 3.2 great-defense WAR in only 83 games, a preview to the All-Star-level performance he is projected to show in Cleveland before too long. Though Lindor only had an average 101 BB%+, his 54 K%+ really display Lindor's good batting eye. Following his great 2013 season in High-A in his age-19 season, Lindor is up to the same tricks in Double-A so far in 2014.
Cleveland's first round pick after Lindor, outfielder Tyler Naquin, had a strong showing in his first full professional season. With a 3.3 great-defense WAR in 108 High-A games, Naquin started his professional career by performing despite some issues with plate discipline. Naquin's 115 K%+ and 88 BB%+ are both not quite as good as you would like to see, especially from an advanced college bat. However, the outfielder actually showed surprising power in the Carolina League (117 ISO+) and benefited from his line-drive stroke (115 BABIP+). The overall package came together well, though he needs to improve his approach as he moves up in the system; otherwise, pitchers will eat him up.
Infielder Erik Gonzalez played extensively at second base, shortstop, and third base in 2013, posting a 1.8 defense-neutral WAR in 93 Low-A games. Gonzalez's callup to Carolina was not as strong (0.0 defense-neutral WAR in 39 games), but the performance was enough to get the infielder onto the 40-man roster in the offseason. With plenty of versatility and a good defensive profile (he is likely a little better than average with the glove), Gonzalez is off to a hot start in Carolina this season. He needs to work on his plate discipline, but it is so far, so good for Gonzalez in 2014.
Another great performer in 2013 was outfielder Logan Vick, another older player who took advantage of the Midwest League. With a 3.5 defense-neutral WAR in 108 games, Vick showed off a mature approach. Vick posted a 205 BB%+, which made up for only being slightly above-average with his strikeouts and power (94 K%+, 105 ISO+). The outfielder saw his performance dip to around average after a late-season callup to Carolina (0.3 defense-neutral WAR in 20 games), which is where Vick is looking to find success in 2014. He is still walking a ton, though Vick is still waiting for his power to come through this season.
Outfielder Jordan Smith did his best Michael Brantley impression in 2013, posting a 2.6 defense-neutral WAR in 134 High-A games. Smith has a frame that suggests power, though the outfielder has yet to show it in games (86 ISO+). But even without the power, Smith found success with his low strikeout-high walk combination (63 K%+, 114 BB%+). Typically a corner outfielder is also a power hitter, but to date, Smith is doing well without it. Smith's fellow 2013 Carolina outfielder, Bryson Myles, did hit for power, though he did not have Smith's plate discipline (113 ISO+, 110 K%+, 88 BB%+). The end result was the same, however, as Myles' 1.7 defense-neutral WAR in 92 games is the same rate as Smith's performance. As Smith and Myles show, there is more than one way to find success.
But when it's bad, it's awful
Continuing the "Love the Way You Lie" riff, a few players had notable seasons in 2013 for all the wrong reasons.
Given shortstop Dorssys Paulino's 39 errors in 2013, it feels safe to use Paulino's poor-defense WAR on the season. That mark of 0.3 WAR in 120 Low-A games is far from inspiring, especially for a player who entered 2013 with such upside and fanfare. Interestingly, Paulino did show a strong ability to control his strikeouts (90 K%+), though combining a 64 BB%+ with an 86 ISO+ led to Paulino's below-average 83 wRC+. Those strikeouts are up so far in 2014, a particularly bad development considering the walks and power have not improved during Paulino's second go-round with Lake County. It helps that Paulino will play all of 2014 at 19 years old -- a very young age to be playing Low-A -- but players need to get better while repeating a level. So far, we have not seen that from Paulino.
Another young player debuting in Lake County last season was outfielder Anthony Santander, who got off to a hot start before fading. With a 0.2 defense-neutral WAR in 61 games, Santander was a little above replacement level during his age-18 season. That is not a great showing, but given Santander's age, it could have been much worse. Sure, Santander could use some more walks (61 BB%+), but there are other positive signs for the outfielder. Santander's low BABIP (91 BABIP+) should improve going forward and his low strikeout rate (93 K%+) is encouraging for the outfielder's future. He is currently not playing in the field as he recovers from shoulder surgery, an issue that could mitigate his power offensive showing to date in 2014.
First baseman's Nellie Rodriguez's start at Lake County in 2013 was so bad, the organization sent him back to Arizona to reset his season. Rodriguez posted a -0.5 defense-neutral WAR in just 47 games, the result of playing first base and not hitting well. First basemen really have to hit to have value and Rodriguez's 67 wRC+ really left him behind. The good news is, though Rodriguez was not getting power and striking out a ton, the first baseman showed good ability to get walks (154 BB%+). The better news is that Rodriguez hit a bunch with Mahoning Valley after his time in Arizona and is off to a better start in Lake County in 2014.
Arguably the worst performance during the 2013 season came from outfielder Jorge Martinez, who never found his form and posted a -1.3 defense-neutral WAR in 112 Low-A games. Needless to say, 2013 was simply a season to forget for Martinez. He has struggled in limited time back in Lake County in 2014, though it helps that time is still on Martinez's side, for now. Entering his age-21 season, provided Martinez can turn his offense around, he can begin to rebuild his stock following 2013.
Bumps and bruises
Outfielder LeVon Washington continues to headline such injury report sections, only playing in 61 games last season (51 games in Lake County). Playing in his age-21 season, Washington tore up the Midwest League, posting a 2.1 defense-neutral WAR in those 51 games and showing the All-Star talent that makes him so special. Of course, the issue for Washington remains staying on the field, something the outfielder is dealing with again in 2014. Washington played eight games in Carolina before ending up on the Carolina disabled list with an oblique injury.
Another talented outfielder, Luigi Rodriguez, also missed a lot of 2013 with injury. Rodriguez played 56 games between Lake County and Carolina with a 0.7 defense-neutral WAR. The good news is that Rodriguez was roughly average when he was on the field, but missing so much time with a shoulder injury is problematic, both with the missed development time and the potential issues the shoulder could hold down the line. Rodriguez got a bit of a late start to 2014, but since being activated, the outfielder has looked good in Carolina.
|Name||Team||Age||G||PA||Poor D WAR||WAR||Great D WAR|
|Joe Wendle||Indians (A+)||23||107||474||3.6||4.2||4.9|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A)||22||108||443||2.8||3.5||4.1|
|Francisco Lindor||Indians (A+)||19||83||373||2.2||2.7||3.2|
|Tyler Naquin||Indians (A+)||22||108||498||1.9||2.6||3.3|
|Jordan Smith||Indians (A+)||22||134||586||1.8||2.6||3.4|
|LeVon Washington||Indians (A)||21||51||229||2.1||2.4||2.8|
|Jeremy Lucas||Indians (A)||22||75||312||1.9||2.4||2.8|
|Paddy Matera||Indians (A+)||25||73||302||1.9||2.4||2.8|
|Eric Haase||Indians (A)||20||104||420||1.6||2.2||2.9|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A)||21||93||383||1.3||1.8||2.4|
|Bryson Myles||Indians (A+)||23||92||390||1.2||1.7||2.3|
|Tony Wolters||Indians (A+)||21||80||340||1.0||1.5||2.0|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A)||23||67||256||0.9||1.3||1.7|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A)||22||101||427||0.6||1.2||1.8|
|Dorssys Paulino||Indians (A)||18||120||523||0.3||1.1||1.8|
|Richard Stock||Indians (A)||22||55||205||0.3||0.6||1.0|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A+)||20||34||134||0.3||0.5||0.7|
|Charlie Valerio||Indians (A+)||22||53||210||0.1||0.4||0.7|
|Bo Greenwell||Indians (A+)||24||65||273||0.0||0.4||0.8|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A+)||22||21||82||0.2||0.3||0.5|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A+)||22||20||87||0.2||0.3||0.4|
|Jerrud Sabourin||Indians (A+)||23||121||502||-0.5||0.3||1.0|
|Anthony Santander||Indians (A)||18||61||238||-0.1||0.2||0.6|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A)||20||22||88||0.1||0.2||0.4|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A+)||22||37||129||0.0||0.2||0.5|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A)||22||37||159||0.0||0.2||0.4|
|Jake Lowery||Indians (A+)||22||12||50||0.1||0.2||0.3|
|Alex Lavisky||Indians (A+)||22||39||161||-0.1||0.2||0.4|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A+)||23||60||218||-0.2||0.2||0.5|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A)||23||38||154||-0.1||0.1||0.3|
|Robel Garcia||Indians (A)||20||16||56||0.0||0.1||0.2|
|Ryan Battaglia||Indians (A+)||21||20||62||-0.1||0.0||0.2|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A+)||21||39||163||-0.2||0.0||0.2|
|Cody Ferrell||Indians (A)||23||17||64||-0.2||-0.1||0.0|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A)||20||23||78||-0.2||-0.1||0.0|
|Nick Hamilton||Indians (A)||23||26||87||-0.3||-0.2||0.0|
|Martin Cervenka||Indians (A)||20||15||58||-0.3||-0.2||-0.1|
|Anthony Gallas||Indians (A+)||25||14||56||-0.3||-0.3||-0.2|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A+)||20||10||39||-0.4||-0.3||-0.2|
|Leo Castillo||Indians (A)||20||69||253||-0.7||-0.3||0.1|
|Claudio Bautista||Indians (A)||19||16||55||-0.4||-0.3||-0.2|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A+)||23||23||87||-0.5||-0.4||-0.2|
|Nellie Rodriguez||Indians (A)||19||47||188||-0.8||-0.5||-0.2|
|Justin Toole||Indians (A+)||26||43||162||-1.0||-0.7||-0.5|
|Jorge Martinez||Indians (A)||20||112||405||-2.0||-1.3||-0.6|
|Joe Wendle||Indians (A+)||23||107||474||116||112||135||124|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A)||22||108||443||110||126||109||117|
|Francisco Lindor||Indians (A+)||19||83||373||120||112||108||110|
|Tyler Naquin||Indians (A+)||22||108||498||109||104||112||108|
|Jordan Smith||Indians (A+)||22||134||586||115||111||105||108|
|LeVon Washington||Indians (A)||21||51||229||126||129||127||128|
|Jeremy Lucas||Indians (A)||22||75||312||108||117||116||116|
|Paddy Matera||Indians (A+)||25||73||302||111||125||110||117|
|Eric Haase||Indians (A)||20||104||420||98||98||117||108|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A)||21||93||383||102||94||117||106|
|Bryson Myles||Indians (A+)||23||92||390||112||107||112||110|
|Tony Wolters||Indians (A+)||21||80||340||109||111||93||101|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A)||23||67||256||109||114||99||106|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A)||22||101||427||107||101||107||105|
|Dorssys Paulino||Indians (A)||18||120||523||97||90||93||92|
|Richard Stock||Indians (A)||22||55||205||110||97||122||110|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A+)||20||34||134||111||115||105||110|
|Charlie Valerio||Indians (A+)||22||53||210||94||92||91||91|
|Bo Greenwell||Indians (A+)||24||65||273||97||96||100||98|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A+)||22||21||82||124||110||97||103|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A+)||22||20||87||89||108||100||104|
|Jerrud Sabourin||Indians (A+)||23||121||502||102||104||89||96|
|Anthony Santander||Indians (A)||18||61||238||95||92||99||96|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A)||20||22||88||103||105||88||96|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A+)||22||37||129||80||97||68||82|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A)||22||37||159||86||93||91||92|
|Jake Lowery||Indians (A+)||22||12||50||77||102||96||99|
|Alex Lavisky||Indians (A+)||22||39||161||88||85||90||88|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A+)||23||60||218||86||98||81||89|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A)||23||38||154||82||100||66||82|
|Robel Garcia||Indians (A)||20||16||56||68||98||76||86|
|Ryan Battaglia||Indians (A+)||21||20||62||89||102||84||93|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A+)||21||39||163||95||78||96||88|
|Cody Ferrell||Indians (A)||23||17||64||97||97||70||83|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A)||20||23||78||84||84||80||82|
|Nick Hamilton||Indians (A)||23||26||87||95||94||74||84|
|Martin Cervenka||Indians (A)||20||15||58||69||84||47||64|
|Anthony Gallas||Indians (A+)||25||14||56||83||81||71||75|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A+)||20||10||39||56||64||53||58|
|Leo Castillo||Indians (A)||20||69||253||83||82||92||87|
|Claudio Bautista||Indians (A)||19||16||55||62||62||68||65|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A+)||23||23||87||91||80||67||74|
|Nellie Rodriguez||Indians (A)||19||47||188||76||93||68||80|
|Justin Toole||Indians (A+)||26||43||162||83||73||63||67|
|Jorge Martinez||Indians (A)||20||112||405||75||74||86||81|
|Joe Wendle||Indians (A+)||23||107||474||173||86||100||107||143|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A)||22||108||443||105||94||205||112||136|
|Francisco Lindor||Indians (A+)||19||83||373||83||54||101||111||121|
|Tyler Naquin||Indians (A+)||22||108||498||117||115||88||115||115|
|Jordan Smith||Indians (A+)||22||134||586||86||63||114||108||117|
|LeVon Washington||Indians (A)||21||51||229||129||103||157||136||157|
|Jeremy Lucas||Indians (A)||22||75||312||133||82||158||103||134|
|Paddy Matera||Indians (A+)||25||73||302||109||92||138||112||140|
|Eric Haase||Indians (A)||20||104||420||157||144||106||105||113|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A)||21||93||383||150||95||70||98||108|
|Bryson Myles||Indians (A+)||23||92||390||113||110||88||113||119|
|Tony Wolters||Indians (A+)||21||80||340||60||88||130||109||108|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A)||23||67||256||77||66||131||104||116|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A)||22||101||427||108||96||84||106||108|
|Dorssys Paulino||Indians (A)||18||120||523||86||90||64||96||83|
|Richard Stock||Indians (A)||22||55||205||146||131||44||112||112|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A+)||20||34||134||91||138||144||134||123|
|Charlie Valerio||Indians (A+)||22||53||210||86||118||102||98||81|
|Bo Greenwell||Indians (A+)||24||65||273||107||66||94||89||96|
|Joe Sever||Indians (A+)||22||21||82||42||63||65||119||109|
|Logan Vick||Indians (A+)||22||20||87||123||112||173||91||113|
|Jerrud Sabourin||Indians (A+)||23||121||502||62||65||120||96||94|
|Anthony Santander||Indians (A)||18||61||238||106||93||61||91||91|
|Luigi Rodriguez||Indians (A)||20||22||88||55||146||127||121||96|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A+)||22||37||129||45||127||133||94||73|
|Todd Hankins||Indians (A)||22||37||159||101||116||105||87||86|
|Jake Lowery||Indians (A+)||22||12||50||136||123||193||82||102|
|Alex Lavisky||Indians (A+)||22||39||161||95||108||67||87||73|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A+)||23||60||218||69||87||148||85||83|
|Zach Macphee||Indians (A)||23||38||154||32||80||138||83||74|
|Robel Garcia||Indians (A)||20||16||56||91||101||180||75||81|
|Ryan Battaglia||Indians (A+)||21||20||62||75||207||121||140||92|
|Erik Gonzalez||Indians (A+)||21||39||163||99||120||33||102||66|
|Cody Ferrell||Indians (A)||23||17||64||15||113||53||106||72|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A)||20||23||78||71||119||72||89||65|
|Nick Hamilton||Indians (A)||23||26||87||32||142||103||108||72|
|Martin Cervenka||Indians (A)||20||15||58||0||151||135||86||39|
|Anthony Gallas||Indians (A+)||25||14||56||46||83||58||84||52|
|Aaron Siliga||Indians (A+)||20||10||39||45||92||83||58||15|
|Leo Castillo||Indians (A)||20||69||253||113||98||75||77||71|
|Claudio Bautista||Indians (A)||19||16||55||81||131||61||63||27|
|Yhoxian Medina||Indians (A+)||23||23||87||19||106||25||97||47|
|Nellie Rodriguez||Indians (A)||19||47||188||52||145||154||91||67|
|Justin Toole||Indians (A+)||26||43||162||21||54||46||76||32|
|Jorge Martinez||Indians (A)||20||112||405||110||152||69||84||58|
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While I am sure there is information to gleam from that, but I still need to know the un-adjusted stats first. Without these league normalized stats are kind of pointless.
Also since there are some basic things that impact BABIP: speed of the batter, line drive rate and such. Those are some pretty specific skills that impact. Trying to normalize BABIP seems to be fairly useless.
Also while if you say he has a BABIP of .400 I know that's extraordinarily high I am not sure how that would work with BABIP+. Also, I am not sure if you can use something like that to compare levels Baseball.
I would like to see how you calculated those.
tl;dr Please also give the unadjusted stats.
But I like the idea behind this. Every time fans can take a closer look and take steps to demystify sabermetrics it's a useful endeavor.