Monday, 7 November 2011

2011 Positional Review: 1B

Just going to give you an up-front warning: the best of these guys don't ever come up in scouts' discussions of the premium talent in the Jays organization. the position is in better shape for prospects than 2B and 3B, but the best guys are usually regarded as guys who project to a relatively low ceiling.

1. David Cooper (24) - Everything the scouts tell you about Cooper screams "don't get your hopes up" but he did everything you could ask him to do at AAA this year except pile up home runs. the book is that he's a guy with an offensive ceiling something like Lyle Overbay at his best (and a "most likely" that looks like Overbay in decline) but his case is not aided by defense. Overbay carries a sterling defensive reputation, Cooper's is "barely adequate.

That's an unfortunate combination for him. You have to tip your hat to what he did in Vegas though. A .439 OPS and 51 doubles is nothing to sneeze at. And while it's true his HR power was absent, he hit 20 dingers in AA the year before in a much tougher environment for power - and that having had an awful first half in 2010. So there's some power there. It's hard to say how much of that he gave up for the contact. I expect Cooper to be traded as part of some package because i don't see a place for him in Toronto. He'll have an "okay" career, i imagine, but not one that will make you wish the deal hadn't been made.

2. Mike McDade (22) - A sixth round pick in 2007, McDade is the definition of a "bad body" player. He stands 6'1" and is listed at 260 pounds. Most observers have thus spent his career waiting for that fact to catch up with him and his development to stall. Thus far, it hasn't. McDade has been a consistent "very good but not great" hitter the last three years. In the first half of 2011 he seemed to be having a breakout year, but around mid-season he suffered a knee injury. He eventually came back and tried to play through it (it's unclear to me if he hid it from the trainers or the team thought he could keep playing) and his stats crashed through the floor. Look at the comparison of his first and second half stat line:


It's reasonable to assume the second half numbers are not representative of, well, anything, and that the first half stats are project-able as a reasonable representation of where he's at now. Still, it's worth noting that he's missed ~20 games or more each of the last three years so there may be some health issues related to his size after all.

One thing NOT related to his size is his defense, which surprisingly, is considered to be excellent. He should move up to AAA this season, even if Cooper is still in the organization. He should look like a monster in Vegas, but we see how much good that did Cooper.

3. Sean Ochinko (24) - Future utility guy, so long as he maintains his positional versitility. Still listed as a catcher, he can also play 3B and 1B and where his defense holds up will make a big difference in his major league value. If he can be a competent catcher he'll be worth watching as a reserve guy in the majors, but good defensive catchers usually don't get shuffled around this much. I could see him maybe having a major league role not unlike that which Eric Hinske has settled into.
The two-time Webster Award winner fell on some hard times in 2011 in comparison to his previous work. His HR total did go up quite a bit, but at the expense of so much contact that the net offensive result was actually down. He had a miserable April before picking it up the rest of the season but his OPS varied widely from month to month and he never seemed to be "in the zone." You can write this year off, of course, as an off-year, but it doesn't need to become a habit.

4. KC Hobson (20) - By every measure Hobson had a completely unimpressive season in 2011. He was projected to hit for power, and hasn't yet - not really even impressive doubles power. He was very streaky, didn't make enough contact, and even posted an alarming (for a 1B) 25 errors defensively. He's still young, and the Jays will take their time, but he needs to step up his game.

5. Kevin Patterson (22) - Patterson had a good year, but the big caveat is age. Being 22 in short-season ball and having a good year really doesn't impress most people. A 30th round pick in 2011, my guess would be that for a real challenge he might move ahead of Hobson- eventually if not initially - in 2012 because at his age he really ought to be trying his skills in Dunedin. lack of pro-experience aside.

6. Art Charles (20) - Charles is a big (6'6") guy with power potential who played for the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2011 after being a 20th round draft pick in 2010. He stepped up his offensive game this year, increasing both his OBP and his slugging. But he's probably not ever going to be called a great prospect if his average doesn't get out of the .240's - that kind of thing might be overlooked in a catcher or a SS, but not a 1B.

I'm going to try to get to the catchers this week before tackling the massive pitcher list.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with this assessment. Not an interesting crop to say the least. I think McDade has some promise if we could only get him to take his conditioning more seriously. Knee injuries often are related to weight issues.
I would think that Jacob Anderson may well be listed in this area in coming years. Especially given our lack of a real prospect at any level (including the Majors).
The optimist in me says, if Thames & Snider both hit well to start 2012, could you see one of them (Thames) at 1B next year. Especially in a platoon with EE? Given AA's propensity to do the unexpected and the relatively weaker emphasis on defense at the position. Could other minor league outfielders be a solution here? After all, as you recap suggested, we may have a bit of a backlog in a couple years. With snider, thames, gose, Sierra, then the 3 M's. After all one of our best 1B was a catcher coming up......Interesting times.

The Southpaw said...

You are right that Anderson has been refereed to as a potential 1B.

Others I think might have some potential there would be Chris Hawkins, Santiago Nessy (he's awfully big for a catcher), Eric Arce (he DHed a lot, but he's also short for a 1B), and Jon Talley (who I personally don't think is good enough to make the majors)

And, of course, Adam Loewen if he returns.

Anonymous said...

You seemed to have a real problem with mr. Talley. Do you know him? Have you seen him in person? You have to remember the blue jays were bound and determined to keep him behind the plate and hence wanted to keep him thin for better agility. But with all depth at catcher, and his body frame it makes more sense to let him get big get out from behind the plate and hit for power. This was his first full time year at one position and the power numbers were there. Granted the avg. needs to come up but if you look at his lines he was actually getting stronger at the end of the season. I've been to a few games with him playing and even got his autograph and I tell you what he's a big man prolly closer to 6'5" 240lbs. Idk but I like him plus he seemed real nice with quite the presence. Maybe just maybe now that the jays have decided what to do with him and if he sticks around, maybe he might blossom into an Adam Dunn type player.

The Southpaw said...

All i know is what's on the stat sheets and what the professional observers say about a player (if anything)

I've never heard anyone who gets paid to evaluate players even mention his name, and the states are "meh"*

The Dunedin team didn't have an obvious candidate to go to NH and play 1B after McDade moves up, so the door is open for him to step up. If he's going to make his move 2012 is the year to do it.

Yes, he had similar results to Ochinko, but Ochinko came DOWN to that level from better work - and he's apparently more versatile (a guy Talley's size can't reasonably be considered catcher material). I will grant you the strong finish though. Might be something worth noting there.