Wednesday, February 02, 2005


By popular concensus, here's your 2005 RoY front runner:

Dallas McPherson 2004
AA .321/.404/.660 (.347 GPA), 51.2 XBH%, 1:2.2 BB:K
AAA 313/.370/.680 (.337 GPA), 58.0 XBH%, 1:4.1 BB:K
MLB .225/.279/.475 (.244 GPA), 44.4 XBH%, 1:5.6 BB:K

Dallas McPherson 2005
PETCO .272/.351/.496 (.282 GPA), 42.0 XBH%, 1:2.7 BB:K
ZiPS .275/.341/.513 (.282 GPA), 42.3 XBH%, 1:3.3 BB:K

Better or worse than you expected? Bare in mind that McPherson's seemingly monster performances in AA-AAA only translate into a .265MjEqA, and it's easy to believe those projections are even a tad optimistic. But compare that to another highly touted rookie's debut performance:

.239/.319/.426 (.250 GPA), 43.8 XBH%, 1:2.4 BB:K

Any guesses? No, it's not Rob Deer's rookie season. It's the 2004 AL RoY, Bobby Crosby. By the way, here's what PETCO projected for the Pacific Coast League MVP in '04 (I can't find ZiPS):

.254/.323/.421 (.250), 37.8 XHB%, 1:2.3 BB:K

Yowza, that's eerie. Score one more for PETCO.

But here's where it gets really interesting. Granted this is completely unscientific, but if you adjust Crosby's PETCO projection so that it more closely matches with his actual results (more raw power, more patience, less average) and apply that to McPherson, you get something awfully close to this:

.232/.336/.494 (.275 GPA), 49.1 XBH%, 1:2.5 BB:K

That's Rob Deer's first full season in 1986. Deer was two years older than Crosby in '04, and a year older than McPherson will be in '05, and he also already had a half-season of MLB experience under his belt. But frankly those numbers conform more closely to what my gut instincts tell me about what the shape of McPherson's 2005 season will look like.

I know there's a lot of hype out there that McPherson will somehow take his game to the next level and follow in the footsteps of the other three-true-outcomes giant, Adam Dunn. I have one word for that: ridiculous. Dunn is only a year older than McPherson, and already has 115 more home runs. Besides, Dunn's final stint in the minors (at the age of 21), is exponentially better than anything McPherson has ever done:

Adam Dunn 2001
AA .343/.449/.664 (.368 GPA), 43.8 XBH%, 1:1.3 BB:K
AAA .329/.443/.676 (.368 GPA), 47.8 XBH%, 1:1.3 BB:K

And after some struggles, Dunn is finally putting it together in the majors:

Adam Dunn 2004
.266/.388 /.569 (.317 GPA), 53.0 XBH%, 1:1.8 BB:K

Look at McPherson's PETCO, look at Dunn's season last year, and ask yourself: do you really think McPherson's age 24 season will be anywhere near as good as Dunn's?

Adam Dunn may have set the new strikeout record, but it's clear he's not overly exerting himself to sustain that .300 IsoPwr. His patience has remained intact. And at 24 years old he's still got plenty of time to keep making adjustments.

McPherson, on the other hand, seems to have compromised his patience as he's advanced through the levels in order to achieve this Dunnian power-spike. He looks like a different hitter than last year:

Dallas McPherson 2003
A .308/.404/.606 (.333 GPA), 32.6 XBH%, 1:1.9 BB:K
AA .314/.426/.569 (.333 GPA), 46.9 XBH%, 1:1.3 BB:K

Take those numbers in AA with a grain of salt, because they came in just 102 AB. But I think it suggests that if he can integrate the power with the patience McPherson's upside might be along the lines of Travis Hafner, who at 27 is only now becoming a formidable MLB hitter:

Travis Hafner 2004
.311/.410/.583 (.330 GPA), 48.0 XBH%, 1:1.6 BB:K

Given where he's headed, however, it's going to take a lot of adjustments for McPherson to reach that plateau.

I don't expect McPherson's RoY chances to be pinned onto whether he can maintain a batting average north of .250. (It certainly didn't hurt Crosby.) I'm not even sure being "the next Rob Deer" (or even the next Travis Hafner) makes McPherson one of the top ten prospects going into the 2005 season. But he'll be an asset to the Angels, and a better value than Glaus. And clearly we should be thankful in terms of how much baseball perception has changed in the past twenty years that the kind of season that once made you a laughing stock can now win you the RoY.

Oh, and John Sickels' final ever Down on the Farm is up and he lists his Top 20 Prospects, divided into 10 hitters and 10 pitchers. Given McPherson's the #8 hitter, and the top three pitchers are Hernandez, Miller, and Francis, it seems likely McPherson also falls just shy of Sickels' top ten.

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