Left-Handed Tilt: Help is on the Way, and its Name is Deeeeeej

2496308570_c4245a2d4b_z== And (maybe) its name is also Mr. Zero Expectations himself ==

So here is the final installment of the the “left-handed tilt” series.  For now.

Thus far, we’ve found reason to be concerned — as Robinson Cano is — about the lack of above-average bats vs. left-handed pitching who aren’t coming off an entire missed season due to surgery on both knees (Corey Hart, of course).

At the same time, we’ve found nothing worth busting the bank or cashing in the Nick Franklin chip for.

But there are also reasons to keep the powder dry.  Especially the Nick Franklin powder.

===

D.J. Peterson

The broken jaw knocked Deeeej! off the fast track in 2013, but the kid was on a tear.

Final season at New Mexico: .408/.520/.807 (yeah, .807 was the SLG, not the OPS)

Initial minor-league season (Short-Season & Low-A): .303/.365/.553

Now, it happens that, in the pros, D.J. did most of his damage against RH pitching (couldn’t find college splits).  In fact, he had only one extra-base hit (a double) off a lefty in his initial minor-league season.

I don’t think that’s any reason for concern.  In fact, it’s a good thing that he can be so dominant against same-handed pitching and still have upside.  He ought to be well above-average against LH pitching once we have enough data to know, and that’s kind of scary-good to think about, given the kind of SLG he was putting up without mashing lefties.

Of course, the new issue with Deej is where he plays.  He played third in the minors, and has played third in the spring games he’s gotten into, but third is kinda taken at the moment.

And the frequently-speculated-about Seager-to-second/D.J.-at-third flip is also blocked as well.  At least for the next ten years.

So expect him to end up at 1b/DH (where a lot of folks thought he’d end up anyway).   Could he show up and bolster Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison at those spots (in a nifty RH-LH-SH three-corner hat) this season?

Well, I’ve compared D.J. to two other RH third basemen who came out of the draft as advanced college hitters: Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria.

  • Zimmerman was in the majors after just 269 minor-league PAs, mostly at AA
  • Longoria got a taste of AA his first year, but then spent all of the next year at AA and AAA before making the Show

Peterson probably would have made AA if not for the injury, and that’s where I expect he’ll start 2014.  So if he does show up in Seattle, it probably won’t be till later in the summer.  But if keeps hitting the way he did last year, there aren’t any RH sluggers in his way, right?

Except …

===

Jesus Montero

Yes, there are Zero Expectations.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero Degrees Kelvin.

But who’s been out there six of eight games?  Who had two hits and a walk Thursday, to show his first signs of life since … what? … 2011?

Yes, Montero.

And — keeping in mind that there are Zero Expectations — zeeeee-ro! — we’ll just sneak a look at what all the fuss was about (just don’t get any expectations).

Here we’ve combined his results from 2009-11 (age-19 to age-21) vs. LH pitching:

Year Age Lvl PA AB H 2b 3b HR BB K BA OBP SLG OPS
2009-2011 vs. LHP 19-21 A+ AA AAA 421 375 119 24 3 21 41 70 0.317 0.385 0.565 0.950

And here’s the Spectometer breakdown for the same data:

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2009-2011 vs. LHP 19-21 “-2” 4.99% 9.74% 21.14% 0.248 16.63% 118 123 141

Was some of that fueled by the A-Rod medicinal crew?  [Maybe]/[probably] but we’ll never know for sure.  Can Montero recapture that kind of production?

They may have zero expectations, but I think they’d like to find out.

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2 thoughts on “Left-Handed Tilt: Help is on the Way, and its Name is Deeeeeej

  1. Yeah Spec. Yeoman’s work here. Here’s a few additional thoughts to sow, Who knows, a strategy may be harvested.

    The issue with Montero making the ball club seem to be politically driven rather than baseball driven. How can you reward a guy with a bench spot who has a low work ethic, lies to the media, cheats, and who has shown no interest in improving himself? At least most steroid users are motivated and work hard. Montero is in a class by himself. It may be that Zduriencik called Montero out in respect for the other 500 Mariner’s prospects who are toiling along in the minor leagues with no light at the end of the tunnel. Most of them would donate a kidney to be in Montero’s position.

    On the other hand, if we need a platoon lefty smasher, who could be finer than Montero? He’s got that sweet swing, the sterling pedigree, the 2012 results, and he probably doesn’t feel like playing baseball every day anyway. There is no point in burning through other valuable prospects or spending millions of dollars to acquire what you already have.

    As you noted, if the Mariners were really going to make an example of Montero they would assign him to minor league camp, or trade him immediately for cash considerations and a player to be named later. Instead, he plays as much as anyone.

  2. Another thing about Montero, or maybe the same thing,

    A baseball player who is on the short end of a platoon usually resents it, and what it means for his career. The stigma of platoon bat pinch hitter is very hard to shake once a guy attains it. The stereotypical platoon bench player is an angry and disillusioned veteran who is trying to eke out a few more years in the limelight before they pull his ticket. Usually, it is unheard of to turn a 24 karat all world prospect into a bench player. Conventional wisdom is to let him play in the minors so his value is maximized.

    But, there is an exception that proves the rule: a guy with low ambition may thrive with low expectations. Not everybody is cut out for full time play. If all Montero has to do is hit left handers, then he may be a very happy man doing just that. He would only be doing what he does best, and he wouldn’t need to work on less desirable tasks, like catching or dieting.

    Also, how was Montero ever cast as a catcher? Isn’t the catcher supposed to be the most ambitious, studied and intelligent of all baseball players? Is there a burnout story here?

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