Earlier this afternoon, Dave Cameron examined third baseman Kyle Seager’s seven-year, $100 million extension with Seattle — with particular emphasis on the realities of Seager’s value as compared to the perceptions of it. The realities are evident merely by inspecting Seager’s player page, which reveals that he’s produced three consecutive three-win seasons or better.
As for the perceptions, they’re largely characterized by this passage from Baseball America’s draft coverage in 2009, which I’ve excerpted — with a view to isolating the most salient features — from a longer passage included in Cameron’s piece:
National evaluators have a [hard] time pegging him because he doesn’t fit a neat profile. His best tool is his bat… He has a patient approach but doesn’t project to hit for much home run power because of his modest bat speed and flat swing plane… [H]e’s an average defender at third, if not a tick above… His detractors see him as a safe pick with low upside and a future reserve or utility player.
On the one hand, it’s clear that Seager isn’t precisely this sort of player. As Cameron notes, for example, he’s averaged 19 home runs per 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons — an above-average figure, that. And as the record indicates, he’s produced nearly 13 wins over those same three seasons, 23rd among all major leaguers by that measure.
On the other hand, though, Seager isn’t a very different player than the one characterized here. He’s exhibited a sound offensive approach — and, even without the power, he’d still probably be an average or slightly above-average hitter. As for the defense, he’s been average (or a tick above) there, too, saving about three runs at third base per every full season he’s played — equal, that, to about +5 overall defensive runs (which includes the positional adjustment and is denoted as Def at the site) per season.
Curious, I inspected the Steamer projections to find which of baseball’s rookie-eligible players might fit that original Seager profile.
Specifically, I wanted to identify every rookie-eligible player who projected to produce the following (per 600 plate appearances) in 2015:
• 100 wRC+ or Better (Average-or-Better Bat)
• 15 Home Runs or Fewer (Below-Average Power)
• +2.0 Def or Better (Average-or-Better Third-Base Defense)
Because you’re a person who’s probably seen at least one suspense film ever, the results of the aforementioned search won’t shock you. But if you were expecting a long list, then be prepared for not a long list, instead.
Here are the results in full:
|Devon Travis||Blue Jays||600||11||.273||.320||.401||102||1.3||2.0||2.5|
Travis, who enters his age-24 season, was a 13th-round selection out of Florida State by the Tigers in 2012. He’s most famous, perhaps, for having been acquired earlier this month by Toronto in exchange for Anthony Gose. He’s produced just below a 12% strikeout rate in over 1100 minor-leaugue plate appearances. As for Refsnyder, he was a fifth-round pick by the Yankees out of Arizona in the 2012 draft. He both strikes out and also walks more than Travis. He also enters his age-24 season.
Because it’s always safest to guess that a player won’t develop into an above-average major leaguer, than it’s safest to say here, as well, that neither Refsnyder or Travis will do that. Among the players who most resemble the prospect version of Seager, however, Refsnyder and Travis are it.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.