Nationals Baseball: 17 vs 1821

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

17 vs 1821

Not to harp on the subject but after the last rounds of cuts (which included Rendon! Shocking as it may be that the guy with the most perfect swing in the world, who makes baseballs rocket off his bat in defiance of all laws of physics, is not ready for the major leagues.)  The Nats in general, and Johnson specifically, were effusive in their praise for Corey Brown. 

You might remember Corey as the other guy in the deal for Josh Willingham. The guy fans were less enthused about.  He had hit .320 / .415 / .502 in AA in 2010 but it was only 90 games, he was admittedly old (24) for the league, and in AAA (though only 40 games) he immediately struggled with a .193 / .253 / .378 line.  Last year was supposed to tell us what kind of player he really was and he put up a .235 / .326 / .402 line.  So there you go.  But wait!  That's only because he sprained his ankle! and then put to much pressure on himself! And then had a staph infection a mere (1,2,3,4) 5 months later! And the locusts! Don't forget about the locusts! 

Corey's time in camp impressed the staff but all it was was a good week and a half of baseball. Only 17 at bats to look at.  Of course if he keeps hitting .400 the Nats won't have to look for a CF, but history tells us he won't.  Corey Brown has had a handful of seasons in the minors. 1821 at bats to be precise.  He has proven himself to be a middling average, good but not great power hitter, with ok patience. He fields well but strikes out too much. That latter is a problem because guys that strike out too much in the minors tend to strike out WAY too much in the majors. If he can control his strikeouts he might be a decent bench player or 4th OF for a couple years. But he needs to make the improvements now because over the next couple of years the adjustments will become harder and harder to make as his body starts to feel the effects of age.

There's a reason Justin Maxwell isn't anchoring the Nats outfield. It's the same reason you may not see Corey Brown back in a Nats uniform this year. They just aren't good enough.


Anonymous said...

So I got to thinking after reading this, "what ever happened to Maxwell?"

Inevitably I ended up on his wiki page where I learned that all he does is hit grand slams and get hurt. Ha.

Harper said...

Not that I really care about a minor leaguer deal but the Yankees still got the best of that deal. Adam Olbrychowski could be out of baseball in a year.

pdowdy83 said...

There is one big difference between Maxwell and Brown. Brown is left handed and can hit RHed pitching which would make him more valuable as a reserve. I also think you completely left off the point that Brown got hot at the end of the year once his ankle was healed.

From 7/15 until 9/1 he hit .302/.375/.465 with 5 HRs. Now to me that would seem to coincide with him getting healthy. I don't expect him to hit at that rate in the majors but if you knock it down a peg that could be a guy who hits .270/.345/.430 and since he is regaurded as an above average defender with an above average arm from what I've read I think you may be selling him a bit short in your assessment. I'm not saying I'm drinking the koolaid on him but I definitely think it is worth keeping an eye on him this year.

Ollie said...

@pdowdy83 hits .270/.345/.430 in the majors or minors? Either way I think Harper's point is that a hot streak usually does not supersede career numbers. Your example doesn't really disprove what he's saying here.

As a fan (of the Nats) I am hopeful that he's somehow turned the corner; maybe Harper's wrong and it's evidence of that. But I kind of doubt it.

David said...

the difference is that Brown has proven he can CRUSH AA pitching. looking at Maxwell's stats, and you can see he never did that. Maxwell never deserved that promotion to AAA. a projected 270/.345/.430 line in the majors would give Brown the starting job. easily. but he has to produce at a higher level than that at AAA to get the callup. i'm hoping Brown can be the answer. ive been excited about him ever since the trade. his 2010 AA season was amazing. i think his career stats show it takes him about a year to adjust at each level. his first year in AA did not look good either. GO NATS

Anonymous said...

There you go, throwing cold water on my enthusiasm again, Harper. Of course you're right about the one week. To me, the more interesting thing is his numbers at AA and below are pretty impressive. If he starts to approximate his lower-minor norms with Syracuse this year, he might be a bit of found money. Not enough to declare the search for the CF over, but enough to consider going with him as a leadoff guy in 2013 while waiting to see what we have in Eury and Goodwin.

But yeah, cutting him was the right move - maybe he is a lefty JMax, but maybe he's also reverting back to the talent he showed in AA and below. Let's give him 300-400 ABs in Syracuse and find out.

Anonymous said...

Ollie - you're right. A hot streak doesn't supercede career numbers (for reference, see Desmond, Ian, 2009), but Brown's career numbers are .264/.352/.476. Admittedly, much of that is piled up in the lower minors, but that's even including his disastrous 2011. If he bounces back to something even close to that as a sustainable number with league-average defense - .255/.340/.430, he's clearly the starting CF in Washington and lets them comfortable move Morse back to LF. Like I said, though, let's see him do it for more than 17 ABs.

Harper said...

pdowdy - can he? I've looked at hims minor league splits and outside of 2010 he was a marginally better hitter vs RH than LH.

Like Ollie said picking any short time frame can be problematic. Like for example he did crush in August last year, but really it breaks down (and forgive me because it's a bunch of back of the envelope stuff here)

August 1-7 : .526 ave 4 homers
August 8-26 : .240 ave 1 homers
August 27-31 : .500 ave 0 homers

(I didn't piece in July 15th-31st but given the stats you present that time frame would have no homers and probably an average around .200 I think...right? .350 in August, .300 from 7/15 through 9/1, 7/15-8/31 would be about half the at bats from August on so to drop it .50 points, it would need be .100 points lower than the final average... this is getting away from me)

The point is cut that one week to start the month and he looks pedestrian. Of course you can do the same with a terrible week to and make him look better. All in all though I don't see a "healthy time" here I see one fantastic week. That fantastic week should be part of his review but that's what looking at the whole year is for.

Ollie - I do think that line is reasonable for AAA, in fact I think it undersells his power, but that translates probably into a Bernadina type average maybe. I think that's what he is at best a low-200s hitter with some pop that can field. That might be better than Bernie on the bench. Might not.

David - again - quick calc shows a .419 BABIP during AA that time, meaning probably some inflation to his stats for those 90 games. I'm not saying Maxwell is better, I don't think he is, but there are plenty of guys that put things together for one year in the minors when they are older than most of the other players in their league. Bernadina did it. Desmond did it. The good players usually do it consistently

Harper said...

Anon - beat me to the Desmond punch. I think CB in the majors would be more like .225 / .310 / .415. Still would be more useful than Bernie maybe.

Harper said...

Anon #1 - Brown's overall minor numbers below AA weren't great but the power is intriguing. I think that's the key for this year - not can he hit .280 because he almost certainly can't. but can he slug near .500...

Anonymous said...

Can he slug near .500? My money is on no. Brown wont be the CF solution. He is too old and not good enough and he is certainly not the lead off type Rizzo lusts after. If we get that CF it will be from a trade, otherwise we got the 126 million dollar man out there...

Ollie said...

Having had the opportunity to look at his stats more closely, he does seem more promising than I initially thought. Still he's old for a prospect (26) so that may explain a decent amount of his success. He's probably 2-3 years older than a lot of the guys he's playing against; he's played five professional seasons and spent three or four seasons in college, so he was likely considered a 'polished' prospect to begin with yet has three major league plate appearances to his name. His power has also regressed fairly steadily every year, regardless of sample size. That's a weird pattern.

Still, I like his OBP and what I've read about his defense. That's what we need in centerfield. This offense's strength is power (though admittedly it's still not that great). They don't have people on base when they hit for power which negates a lot of it.

I'd love for Brown to be a late-bloomer a la Morse but a high OBP guy instead of power (or perhaps with it). I just don't think he's someone to pin starting hopes on in the future, but I'd like to be wrong.

Donald said...

For all the talk about the Nats trying to trade Lannan, I'm just not sure it makes sense. I know that there's no room to start the season, but we may only be talking about a month or two. With Strasburg being shut-down at some point, all it will take is a single injury and we'll be short-handed. It would be a shame to be in the playoff hunt in August or September and be stuck starting Maya or Gorzelanny.

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