2010-12-02

Overvaluing Arencibia



Alright. This may be a blanket statement but I'm just gonna go ahead and say that if you are a fan of any particular MLB organization, then you overvalue their prospects. It's just what we do.

Let's take a look at a Blue Jay specific example: J.P. Arencibia

He was selected in the 1st round, 21st overall, in the 2007 Amateur Draft. Entering the 2010 season, really smart people were writing shit like this about Arencibia. His supporters will quickly point out that he had 2 surgeries - one on his eyes and another on his kidney - which were clearly necessary and allowed him to regain his form.

He will be 25 years old when the 2011 season begins and it now appears like he will get a legit shot at cracking the active roster.

Here are his stats as a pro courtesy of Baseball Reference (notice the dip in 2009, then the resurgence in 2010)

Year Age Tm Lg Lev
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS





2007 21 Auburn NYPL A-
63 249 228 31 58 17 1 3 25 0 0 14 56 .254 .309 .377 .686





2008 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+
126 537 510 70 152 36 0 27 105 0 0 18 101 .298 .322 .527 .850





2008 22 Dunedin FLOR A+
59 262 248 38 78 22 0 13 62 0 0 11 46 .315 .344 .560 .904





2008 22 New Hampshire EL AA
67 275 262 32 74 14 0 14 43 0 0 7 55 .282 .302 .496 .798





2009 23 Las Vegas PCL AAA
116 500 466 67 110 32 1 21 75 0 1 26 114 .236 .284 .444 .728





2010 24 Las Vegas PCL AAA
104 459 412 76 124 36 1 32 85 0 0 38 85 .301 .359 .626 .986





4 Seasons 409 1745 1616 244 444 121 3 83 290 0 1 96 356 .275 .319 .507 .827






I went ahead and plugged those stellar 2010 numbers into the Minor League Equivalency calculator and this is what it spit out:

422 AB 53 R 101 H 29 2B 1 3B 23 HR 59 RBI 28 BB 92 SO .240 BA .291 OBP .474 SLG .765 OPS

This tool takes a body of work from a specific level in the Minors and converts it as though that body of work happened in the Majors. How accurate is it? Who knows.

Now, I'm not going to base an entire argument on this conversion but I think it helps to put things into perspective. A monster MVP type year in Las Vegas is not really worth getting all that worked up about.

Don't get me wrong, Arencibia clearly has power. And it looks like his power will play in the big leagues. Anyone who was lucky enough to watch his totally unreal MLB debut will tell you, he is ready.

What those same people won't tell you is he had just 1 hit for the rest of the year. Obviously he wasn't playing regularly and if I remember correctly when he did start, it always seemed to be against pretty good pitchers.

Matsuzaka
Buchholtz
Haren
Gonzalez
Price
Lester
King Felix
CC
Blackburn

So what is it that I'm trying to say? Here goes:

J.P. Arencibia may end up being a serviceable Major League catcher someday. But it will be how he plays behind the dish that will ultimately determine that. And it's probably gonna take a while till we figure that out.

By the time we do a couple of our other prospects, most notably Travis d'Arnaud and Carlos Perez, will likely be ready to take their respective shots. I would put A.J. Jimenez in that conversation as well.

Let's throw those 3 players numbers at their respective levels into the mighty Minor League Equivalency Calculator and see what comes out.

Why the hell not?

Travis d'Arnaud, again courtesy of BR:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS





2007 18 Phillies GULF Rk
41 151 141 18 34 3 0 4 20 4 2 4 23 .241 .278 .348 .626





2008 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A--A
64 267 239 33 73 18 1 6 30 1 2 23 39 .305 .367 .464 .831





2008 19 Williamsport NYPL A-
48 197 175 21 54 13 1 4 25 1 2 18 29 .309 .371 .463 .833





2008 19 Lakewood SALL A
16 70 64 12 19 5 0 2 5 0 0 5 10 .297 .357 .469 .826





2009 20 Lakewood SALL A
126 540 482 71 123 38 1 13 71 8 4 41 75 .255 .319 .419 .738





2010 21 Dunedin FLOR A+
71 292 263 36 68 20 1 6 38 3 1 20 63 .259 .315 .411 .726





4 Seasons 302 1250 1125 158 298 79 3 29 159 16 9 88 200 .265 .323 .418 .741






His injury shortened / 2 time All Star 2010 season in the pitcher friendly Florida State League had it happened in the big leagues, would have looked like this:

271 AB 23 R 52 H 15 2B 1 3B 4 HR 24 RBI 2 SB 1 CS 13 BB 70 SO .194 BA .239 OBP .296 SLG .535 OPS

A.J. Jimenez, BR:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS





2008 18 Blue Jays GULF Rk
19 52 47 5 9 2 0 0 5 5 2 3 16 .191 .255 .234 .489





2009 19 Lansing MIDW A
80 294 278 30 73 15 1 3 31 5 2 7 72 .263 .280 .356 .636





2010 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+
72 301 271 36 81 22 0 5 55 17 4 18 61 .299 .340 .435 .775





2010 20 Lansing MIDW A
70 292 262 35 80 22 0 4 54 17 4 18 56 .305 .347 .435 .782





2010 20 Dunedin FLOR A+
2 9 9 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 5 .111 .111 .444 .556





3 Seasons 171 647 596 71 163 39 1 8 91 27 8 28 149 .273 .306 .383 .689






Midwest League to MLB conversation, which ends up being remarkably similar to d'Arnaud:

272 AB 19 R 58 H 14 2B 0 3B 2 HR 29 RBI 11 SB 5 CS 10 BB 66 SO .214 BA .246 OBP .290 SLG .536 OPS.

Unfortunately Carlos Perez only made it as far as the New York Penn League and the Minor League Equivalency calculator doesn't do short seasons.

These 3 young guys are all known as solid defensive catchers. But they all are at least 2 or 3 full seasons away from being seriously considered for the big leagues. Look for d'Arnaud to start in New Hampshire, Jimenez to stay in Dunedin and Perez to get the bulk of the reps in Lansing.

Point being catcher is clearly a position of strength for the organization.

Is J.P. Arencibia the most ready? For sure.

Is he the best we have? Maybe.

Will he bring back the greatest return in a trade? Most likely.

Will his value ever be higher? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

That's the real question I want to address. Let's just say that J.P. gets his well deserved shot in the big leagues and he puts up numbers that are similar to what he is projected to do. 

A .250 batting average with a .300 OBP and 20 homers with about 60 RBI. That would be if he got the lion's share of work behind the plate.

My question to you is this: Would his trade value increase or decrease after a season like that?

The floor is yours.....

9 comments:

  1. JPA - I really hope he's not at his peak value now - but - who knows?

    My gut tells me JPA will be a Jay for at least several years - the guy HAS TO get a shot at catcher - when/if that fails he gets a shot at DH and or 1st. Basically the guy can hit for power - and that will continue - he'll get the chance to fail three times before he's let go - UNLESS - someone overpays now - a big piece of an Upton Pie perhaps.

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  2. I would say that if JPA can put up those #'s or better after a full season that his value would be much higher than the unknown he is now. But at that point you probably keep him. I would say give him a full season and then evaluate his future. It's no more a gamble than trading him now and he goes on to become something. That's my .02...

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  3. If JPA hits 20 home runs as a rookie and isn't a disasters behind the plate, his value goes up. People tend to look at rookie numbers as a starting point and expect things only to improve, some might think this guy will hit 40 down the road if he hit 20 as a rookie. Given his age, I'm not sure that he will ever improve much over those numbers though.

    As for whether to trade him now, I think it all comes down to what you can get for him. If he can be the centre piece for a deal that returns a player like Rasmus, Grienke, Upton, etc. Then I think you make the deal, however, if the return isn't as good, say Mark Reynolds, then I'm not sure I do it.

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  4. Hmm. Those ML equivalents look like numbers that resemble Barajas / Buck have put up for the Jays over the past two years.

    ...but from a 25 year old, making the ML minimum.

    Where the Jays are right now, fans should take that and be happy in 2010. If he keeps putting up numbers like, he gets cut loose in a manner similar to Barajas / Buck.

    ReplyDelete
  5. well pierzynski got something like 2 years and 8M$ for that kind production as a 34 year old.

    john buck got 3 years and 21M$ with a career OPS of 722.

    so if you can get 3 or 4 years of 750+ OPS for very little money that is quite valuable.

    The only question is whether he can play the position defensively.

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  6. I watched him play in Las Vegas. If he's got enough offensive power to stay afloat, we might be able to over look all of the passed balls!

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  7. I like him at 3rd, 1st, or DH in the future. Not behind the plate.

    I think it might be best to move him to a corner infield now, and bring in Russell Martin to catcher with Molina to help this young staff. Or even keep JP at catcher, and bring in Martin to play 3B and catcher (he can do both).

    Martin may not have the best stick, but he is great at calling games and defensively.

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  8. Mr. Golden Arm, I'm totally with you on this one. I hate to sound like a Debbie Downer, but we still don't know if JPA is a bona fide stud yet.

    I'm airing on the caution that what transpired between the day after his big league debut and the end of the season isn't what's in store for 2011 though.

    But one way to find out very quickly if JPA has what it takes is throw him into the fire and have him catch almost every day. If they split the duties between Molina and Arencibia, then it will just drag out even longer.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Some very good stuff guys. Lots of great view points. As always, I really appreciate the comments.

    Nemesis Enforcer emailed me a list while we were discussing this topic and it never made it's way into the post.

    Carlos Delgado
    Kevin Brown
    Carlos Diaz
    Josh Phelps
    Kevin Cash
    Guillermo Quiroz
    Curtis Thigpen
    Robinson Diaz

    All former catchers of the future. Check this out and tell me if it looks familiar:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=phelps001jos

    I'll add this: if J.P. fails in the big leagues after we give him his opportunities, then I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes when you are dealing with a prospect. But there is no real way to know, or to find out, unless you give them a chance.

    Maybe we should ask a psychic.

    It would really suck if that happened though. But it would double suck if we traded him away and he goes off for somebody else.

    I just wanted to point something out that may or may not be a coincidence, you tell me. This post got linked on MLBTR around noon on Dec. 3rd. In the next 3 hours 600 different IP addresses showed up to this site. Almost all of the outclicks were to the link in this sentence:

    "Entering the 2010 season, really smart people were writing shit like this about Arencibia."

    At about 3PM, FanGraphs posted this:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/when-we-learn-something-about-a-prospect/

    ReplyDelete

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