Jumat, 11 November 2011

Mitch Moreland's Ceiling

In non-Papelbon related baseball news, Nolan Ryan went on record this morning saying something to the effect that he's happy with Mitch Moreland at first base when asked a question regarding the two big free agent first basemen, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. I respect Nolan Ryan's opinion, but respectfully think he's absolutely insane. If the issue is a payroll constraint, that's understandable, but Ryan implied he'd rather Mitch Moreland and seek pitching instead. Personally, I would rather a low-level signing, and Fielder. I think he'd be a monster in Arlington, and exploit the ballpark advantage players such as Michael Young and Adrian Beltre have experienced.

As NufCed said, Pujols should ideally earn 30.429 MM per year for 7 years, or 213 MM. Fielder's optimal contract for both sides is 6 years and 121.5 MM. Pujols should actually get a slightly higher total value, but possibly more years. Fielder, however, is looking for something like Teixeira, Cabrera, or Gonzalez (basically 150-180 MM total value) or possibly higher.

Now, to Mitch Moreland. Moreland had a .357 wOBA in 2010 over 173 PA, which projects to 2.5ish WAR over 600 PA. In 2011, Moreland posted a -3.5 UZR, a .317 wOBA, and a 0.4 WAR. Moreland, on the positive side, posted a .317 wOBA at home and on the road. Against right-handed hurlers, Mitch put up a .335 wOBA, which is actually above average in 2011- a 104 wRC+. He was putrid against left-handed pitchers, though, which resulted in a 92 wRC+ overall. A point in his favor is that he's only 25.

A few recent first basemen and their age-25 performance:

Prince Fielder: 719 PA, 160 wRC+, .299/.412/.602
Casey Kotchman: 573 PA, 97 wRC+, .272/.328/.410
Adam LaRoche: 502 PA, 97 wRC+, .259/.320/.455
Albert Pujols: 700 PA, 170 wRC+, .330/.430/.609
Mark Teixeira: 730 PA, 147 wRC+, .301/.379/.575
Mitch Moreland: 512 PA, 92 wRC+, .259/.320/.414

Here's how the ones not-named-Moreland fared at age 26.

Fielder: 714 PA, 137 wRC+, .261/.401/.471
Kotchman: 431 PA, 92 wRC+, .268/.339/.382
LaRoche: 557 PA, 127 wRC+, .285/.354/.561
Pujols: 634 PA, 175 wRC+, .331/.431/.671
Teixeira: 727 PA, 121 wRC+, .282/.371/.514

Pujols saw a 5 % jump in his offense but over less time- he basically was the same player. Teixeira and Fielder saw significant decreases. You're probably asking why I compared Moreland to these five recent first basemen and not Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, and Carlos Pena. Fielder and Pujols are the two tentative free agents in question, LaRoche and Kotchman are most similar to Moreland in my mind, and Teixeira also had the Arlington effect. Based on all this I wouldn't expect Moreland and his .317 wOBA to suddenly become a 3-win player. Only LaRoche went from below average to well above-average. I'd expect a ceiling of a .330 wOBA if Moreland can work out problems he has against lefties, but more of the same otherwise.

The following seven season projection for Moreland in WAR and wOBA wouldn't shock me at all:
2012: .330, 2
2013: .335, 2.5
2014: .345, 2.5
2015: .340, 3
2016: .340, 3
2017: .335 2.5
2018: .325, 1.5

Using 5 MM per win, that projects to 85 MM in value over seven seasons, or a bit above average (average is 70 MM over 7 seasons using 2012 dollars). This is optimisitic and assume a normal curve with no down seasons. This is Moreland entering and going through his prime, as well. It looks like a not smart move to assume Moreland will improve a ton. His power looks solid, but his struggles against lefties are real, and the 104 wRC+ against righties- his better side- is troublingly low. I honestly don't see much out of Moreland. - EdGenGar

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