Wil Myers - looking to the future. Photo: Minda Haas

What Might Have Been

Wil Myers is everywhere these days. Minor League Player of the Year over at Baseball America. Nice interview at Fangraphs. He was the star of the PCL All Star game and appeared in the Futures Game, where he performed well. The awards keep piling up, as Myers made the All PCL Team and was named Omaha’s top hitter and top prospect by the media. Seems like Myers is everywhere you look these days, except in the Kansas City outfield.

I get it. Kind of. I understand where Dayton Moore is coming from with the 40 man roster issues, and how

Newly crowned Minor League Player of the Year - Wil Myers

Mandatory Credit: Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

we’d have to pull someone off to place Myers on. But seriously…come on…we get to watch guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper playing for their respective teams to varying degrees of success…but at least they are getting their shot (I don’t think there’s any arguing that Trout is more than ready).

Looking at those two as a jumping off point, I don’t think anyone would expect Myers to have hit the ground running like Trout. The Angels superstar is a freak like we haven’t seen since 1989, when Seattle fans were getting fat on Ken Griffey, Jr. candy bars. Although, looking back, Griffey’s first year was more in line with Harper’s 2012 campaign.

What could we possibly expect from Myers? Is he ready to hit at this level? Does he have things to work on that warrant keeping him in Omaha, or is this whole thing just a team afraid to make a roster move and take a chance…keeping Myers in AAA to stop his big league service clock from ticking?

One way to glimpse what might have been is to project what Myers’ numbers would translate to using Minor League Equivalency numbers. I know…you’re thinking, “I was told there would be no math.” I’ll keep it pretty simple. These MLE projections have been around a while now, with Bill James being the first person I remember coming up with the idea. In fact, I still have a couple of my old Bill James Baseball Abstracts laying around, and in the 1986 version, he calls it “Major League Equivalency” in the glossary.

The formula has been improved upon a great deal over the years, although once again, James was ahead of his time. But as we moved into the information age and more data was collected, as Baseball Think Factory explains in depth, we had more information at our disposal. Having more factors to throw into the mix enables us to come up with (theoretically) more accurate projections.

With the help of a MLE calculator, I’m going to plug in Myers’ AAA numbers from this season and see how they translate (not adding in his AA stats).

With the Storm Chasers, Myers has put up impressive numbers, as we all know. In his 388 at bats (through Sept. 4) he has 15 doubles, 5 triples, and 24 homers, adding up to a .554 slugging percent. In addition, he’s got a .304 AVG and .378 OBP, all amounting to an impressive .932 OPS. I don’t need to talk these numbers up…the guy won top honors from Baseball America. Enough said.

Let’s plug these numbers into the calculator and see what it spits out. What we find is that he projects, had he played that time in Kansas City, to have 399 at bats, 104 hits, 13 doubles, 4 triples, and 19 homers. That comes out to a batting average of .261 and a .318 OBP (a drop of 60 points). His power stroke translates pretty well, with a .453 projected SLG. It’s 100 points lower, but for a young player, very good. This means of course that his OPS will also be lower, coming down from a .932 to a less impressive .771 in the big leagues – still a solid number, especially for a 21 year old.

Judging solely by this idea of MLE it appears Myers would be more in line with a rookie season like that of Harper or Griffey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That .771 OPS he’s projected at would be fourth best on the team behind Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, and Alex Gordon. Not to mention about 130 points higher than the albatross he’d replace in right field.

Keep in mind, these MLE numbers don’t project what a player will do once they get the call from their parent team. It simply takes the numbers they actually DID put up, and translates them using park factors, etc. It doesn’t factor in a player’s confidence or hot streaks, nor does it figure in a prolonged slump. For all we know, Myers could have come up after the All Star break and hit .315 for the Royals. Then again, he could’ve hit .220, as we saw Trout do in 2011 through 40 games.

Which brings me to another point. Should Myers get the call now, get his feet wet, in case he does struggle like Trout? Maybe. Maybe not. There are plenty of guys who start a season with no prior experience and do just fine. We likely won’t find out. And while it’s nice to see guys like David Lough get a shot, he’s clearly not a player on the level of Wil Myers.

Trout and Harper: Rookie All Stars

Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE

It’s hard to say what would have happened had KC cleared some room for Myers. But he couldn’t have been much worse than Frenchy, and likely would have been better. In comparison to the rookies I mentioned before, Myers certainly wouldn’t have put up Trout-like numbers (I wouldn’t bet on it anyway), but I’m guessing could have been for KC what Harper was for the Nationals.

Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough…with headlines like “Wil Power” floating around it’s only making a hungry fan base more anxious to see Myers make a splash.

Congrats on a heck of a 2012, Wil. Hope to see you on Opening Day.

 

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