Who is DJ?
If we're worried about trading him, is he worth the convo?
DJ is our most-tradable, top-shelf hitter. He has first round cache, a top-50 prospect ranking as of mid-season by a couple of places, and is now in the upper minors.  When asked about it on the radio, Zduriencik had this to say:
“I don’t have any interest in trading D.J. Peterson, I can tell you,” he said. “None at all.”
Zduriencik reiterated the point later in the interview, insisting he wasn’t interested in making deals before the July 31 trade deadline that might hurt the club in the future.
“In most cases, if someone’s asking you for D.J. Peterson, they’re gonna give you something short-term, but I just think he’s a very, very valuable asset for us right now,” Zduriencik said. “You never say never to anything, but I really don’t have any intentions or desire to trade him.”
But just how valuable is he likely to be if we keep him?  lr in the shouts keeps bringing up great points, so I figured we might as well have a con-fab about it.
lr states:
With Peterson's name being thrown around a lot in trade scenarios, it's got me thinking. Assuming he's a first baseman going forward, is everyone really in love with his skill-set? He's posting below average walk rates at the last 3 levels, though he hasn't had many at AA yet. His strikeout rate does seem to be dropping, though, again, only 60 PAs. I just wonder if his ceiling is going to be limited because of his low walk rates. As we all know, RHB in safeco get crushed, so I'm worried that mid OBP, high slugging RHB first baseman in our home park is a recipe for disappointment.
And as far as what that kind of package means in value, a 1B with a 280/330/460 bat is perfectly ok, but to me it's only that, OK. An 800 OPS would've been 14th out of 26 1B last year by fangraphs count (Smoak was 19th) and 16th out of 27 this year. Yeah it looks nice compared to what we've had for the last 6 years, but in terms of pure value, a right handed 1B in Safeco without .250+ ISO and below average walk rates doesn't make me think of him as highly as many others seem to think. 
Now THAT's comin' out swingin', with something to back it up. :-) Thanks lr.  So, let's talk about it.  
First: DJ IS a first baseman.  I don't like the idea of him in the OF, but he has good hands at 1st even if he's not the biggest dude around.  He can't stick at 3rd though, and I don't care how long we're playing him there.  Futures Game? He was a starter - at first.  Maybe we asked 'em to do that to help convince him it's a promotion with a faster track to the bigs. ;-)  Plus DJ isn't stupid - Kyle Seager is taking that field tonight as an All-Star. If Deej wants to be starting for the Ms sometime next year, or in 2016, it won't be at the hot corner.
So with that said... what kind of production does he have to have in order to be a must-keep instead of a trade chip, a cute-but-replaceable piece? Well, we'd have to know a) what we expect DJ to do in the bigs, b) what the position looks like currently, and c) what his positional peers in the minors look like (aka what the future of the position might be).
A) What do we expect from DJ?  As lr rightly points out, so far walking isn't a huge part Deej's skillset.  He has 27 on the year against 75 Ks, in 365 PAs.  A 7.4% walk rate isn't disastrous, but nobody's gonna confuse that with Ole or Gar, especially with that EYE ratio.  For a team in desperate need of OBP guys, DJ will have to provide that on the basis of a high-average approach.  He's not gonna Nick-Swisher his way to assisting the team with walks at this point.  When Peterson was drafted, I said I expected something like Billy Butler out of him.  Nice average, decent OBP on top of that but not extravagant, 60 extra base hits a year.  And DJ has the glove at 1B that Butler does not have.
Some people aren't gonna like getting Billy Butler-like production out of first base, though. Allen Craig would be another comp, and another converted-3B (though this year for him is pretty dodgy so far).   I think DJ is a hitter, and maybe he goes like A-Gone (.300/ .360/ .500 minor league career) and puts it all together a little later, finding those walks once he gets to the bigs. But if he doesn't... is Billy Butler-esque enough in the modern era of baseball?
B) What does the first base position look like now?
In the late-90s, pitchers were hitting .300.  Announcers had extra base hits.  It was crazy.  News flash: it's no longer crazy. Paul Goldschmidt led the NL with 36 home runs last year - the fewest to lead a league since 1992, aka the end of the pre-roid era. First baseman aren't required to hit 40 bombs any more - and likely won't.  
OPS and wRC+ at first base, 1999:
.900+ = 11 dudes (123-168 wRC+)
.860-.900 = 6 MORE guys (115-126 wRC+, ignoring Ole's 135 Safeco #)
OPS and wRC+ at first base, 2014:
.900+ = 5 dudes (144-168 wRC+)
.800-.860 = 8 guys (120-140 wRC+)
Like I said... the league has changed a LOT.  Lop 50+ OPS points off the numbers of even the average 1B you saw 15 years ago to get a more realistic explanation of what today's first baseman might look like.
So these days, almost half the league is above .800 but only a very select few climb over .900... and most aren't really close.  .800 to .850 is a good 1B. You would think if DJ can't do that, then he's not really all that irreplaceable.  Keep in mind that Moss and Belt had the two best wRC+ numbers of that second group (138 and 140) because of their park effects.  It's harder to post numbers for the Giants and As with their home park, and Safeco is in that area. We're basically hoping that DJ can manage a 130 or so, come in around #8-10. In 1999 that was the Sweeney / Karros level player, just a touch behind Ole and Delgado.  In 2013, that's Allen Craig / Napoli, a bit behind Moss and Belt. In this park, that's about the .810 OPS that Morse is putting up in SF this year (netting him a 132 wRC+).
Can DJ hit .280/.350/.460 here?  That's basically what we're asking.  And if he can't, can we trade him for someone who can?
C) What kinds of 1B talent are down in the minors or just reaching the bigs?
Basically, Freeman, Moss and Belt are the upper echelon of the new-wave of first basemen. Goldschmidt is the class of the new wave, but after him there's some good, and then a lot of average.  In the minors there's nobody who stands out head and shoulders over DJ.  Some guys have better walk rates, but Jon Singleton was rated the #1 first base prospect in all the land. He has a minor league career OPS of about .850 and is whifftastically approaching his season in Houston. Others are Cron (DJ-lite with even fewer walks and less power, .830 OPS), Vogelbach (.865), and Olson (.835). Peterson's riding a .950, which is admittedly helped by his half-season in High Desert.  Of course, Cron logged some time in the launch pad known as Salt Lake...
What I'm saying: there are no guaranteed first-base talents in the minors.  Nobody who looks like a world-beater.  We're in a lull when it comes to first-base talent, aided a bit by Abreu's arrival stateside.  But there don't appear to be a lot of Abreus in the minors. DJ looks like one of the better hitting prospects at first base that can be expected to arrive over the next few years. If the best 1B going forward look like Miggy, Abreu and Goldschmit, and the next few could be Moss, Adams, Rizzo and Freeman... there's no one after that.  It's wide open.  The middle of the pack is all 30+ year olds.  They're going to go away, and the next set of promotions isn't really wowing anybody. Which means the paucity of 1B options should drive Peterson's value up more, not less. His ability to BE a Belt-like contributor as a RH bat makes him worth more, not less.
DJ might not be a world-beater (or heck, maybe he will be) but he doesn't HAVE to be in order to be a top-10 1B in this league.  The era of half the league putting up a .900 OPS are over. With the way the shift is being implemented you want a hitter with pull power who can go the other way when required.  More than that is gravy, and the fact that DJ is a righty helps us at the plate since we simply CANNOT convince righties who have ANY other options to come here. Safeco is scary - it made a HOF hitter in Beltre assume the fetal position. 
So we need to keep good RH bats, especially at positions of need. And don't discount Deej's ability to grow. If he goes, he goes - but I'd prefer he stay.  We need him there... and our options are not vast around the league.  Of course, we do have Kivlehan and Choi who can play first, and either guy could come through as that 130ish wRC+ player we need there. Most everyone will say DJ is a better bet - hopefully we'll find out.
Matt's last shout: " Zobrist is 115-120 wRC+ right NOW when hitting at his normal level and we need it NOW...Peterson has very low upside to be a true #1 hitting prospect. I just don't see getting worked up over him."
*shrugs* we didnt get worked up over Choo either, but he was way better than what we got even if he's somehow NEVER been an All-Star. Those are the pieces that make a championship team work.  I want Zobrist, and if he costs us DJ then he does... but I think it's a mistake to toss good RH hitters away in deals because they aren't HOFers.  Getting hitting is only growing more difficult.
Let's try to keep the best ones with us, yeah?



Prime Zobrist is basically Peterson's upside (sans the position flexibility, plus more pop, minus lots of walks, but you know what I mean).
I wholeheartedly agree with your basic analysis that 1B isn't going to need to be Sexson or better to be good anymore. But Peterson is two years away from helping us and we have other guys who are also interesting...and I would like to stop waiting five years to win. THIS team...can WIN...the WS, even. Our pitching is WS caliber. We just need two pieces...an outfielder and a #10 man. Zobrist is one heck of a #10 man.


... I hadn't seen those Zduriencik quotes.  Very interesting, even if my own impression of Z as uber-scout has been modified lately :- )
Totally agree with the idea that a .280/.350/.460 1B is much more valuable than people think it is.  If DJ is a plus glove at all at 1B -- he should be, as a drafted 3B -- then you're talking 3-4 WAR.   Check the M's leaderboards on WAR.
People might not have noticed that none, and we mean NONE, of the good-hitting 1B's are plus first basemen according to UZR.
One thing we don't talk about enough at SSI, is the worth of a club-controls 3 WAR player making At SSI, I spend too much time countering Cameron's fixation on underpaying players, and as a result the entire community SSI swings the pendulum a bit too far away from that.  If D.J. Peterson is legimately hitting .280/.350/.460 in his second year, with a good 1B glove, then he is worth a LOT.  He's worth a net $15-20M per year.
As everybody knows, I think there is a very large % chance he does NOT do that, but then again I'm no expert on D.J.
We could add a lot more, but it would be repeating Gordon above :- )


One good way to gain a sense of proportion here is Bill James' Win Shares, which were co-opted by Baseball Prospectus' WARP, which was co-opted by Fangraphs' WAR.  The latter two refined Win Shares ever-so-slightly, and now most people give the credit to those who tweaked the invention of James.
D.J. upside = 3, maybe 4 WAR at 1B
Choo = 5 WAR, multiple times, due to the insane OBP
Zobrist = 8 WAR one year, 5-6 WAR routinely, 5 WAR this year
But of course you are talking about fewer years with Zobrist, and paying him more salary.  Still, let's not kid ourselves about Zobrist's worth.  "In a vacuum" he has been one whale of an impact player, and he is worth more to the Mariners (no OBP in front of their Stars) than he is to most teams.
Here, you guys, LOOK at Zobrist's WAR.  And bear in mind that he could do this for 5 more years.  He is badly underrated because there is no one stat column -- AVG, RBI, etc -- that overwhelms (James axiom).  That is totally different than Chone Figgins syndrome.  Zobrist's hitting skills are not soft.
I think we'd all agree that Zobrist, right now, is worth SOME premium, since he's the "last puzzle piece*" in a year he could make the difference.
I think we'd all agree, too, that a lot of prospects could be moved to 1B.


Billy Butler has always been one of my fave players, I'd always have given plenty for him EVEN JUST TO DH, and most talent experts
- expect - 
D.J. to be Billy Butler.
Billy Butler with a 3B's glove at first, that's a franchise pillar.  Let's hope all these guys know what they're talking about.
Somebody remind me again, why did Dr. D never analyze Peterson off the vids and stats?  :- )


I'm locked in on Rios.  He's my guy.  He slaps lefties upside the head and doesn't lose that much against RHP.  He's a rent-a-bat that we can get without giving up DJ.
That said, I could see giving up DJ if we brought in a young RH bat like Grichuk or Souza.  Grichuk is ths same age as DJ anyway and plays CF some (he's better in the COF).  If you got one of those, then losing DJ isn't as critical.  
Zobrist is a quality pro.  But if we're looking at giving up DJ to get 1.4 years of Zobrist or Smoak to get .4 years of Rios....then it's an easy pick for me.
Matt wrote:  "Prime Zobrist is basically Peterson's upside," which is true.  But Prime Zobrist went two years ago.  Zobrist projects to only 12 more doubles and 4-5 homers for the rest of this year. He had 72 X-BAse hits in '11, 66 in '12, 51 in '13 and is on track for 46-47 in '14.    15?  He would indeed give us 10 starts at 2B/SS/and 3B here on out....plus his LF starts.  Valuable stuff that.  But unless we get a replacement young-nearly ready-RH bat, then DJ is a bit too steep for me. 


Besides DJ, Choi, Kivlehan, there's Jody Lara racking in High Desert. Big deal, who doesn't you say? Not many OPS .955 at home, and .950(!!) on the road. The pretenders down there rarely, if ever, do that. Jackson exposes them quickly
He'd make a very nice sweetener in any trade - a package with Franklin, for example, to help deal with the questions regarding damaged goods.


As in, a #1 starter AND another pitcher having a great year.  You're talking about trading ours (or at least close to it, with Peterson and Franklin) for Zobrist.  Addison is better than DJ, but McKinney is not better than Franklin, IMO. I would view them as similar players.  
I don't care about Zobrist's positional versatility as much - we need a hitter. So while Doc compares his WAR to what DJ might provide, I'm not really seeing that.  Zobrist can at least give our infield some days off, but mostly he'd be in the OF (at least, as a solo add).  Is a 110 OPS+ OFer good enough?  If you think he's going back to his career peak, then yes I can be talked into it.  I don't see a lot of guys reversing the aging curve these days in non-suspicious ways. 
But Oakland threw down the gauntlet when they grabbed Samardzija and Hammel.  If Zobrist is our only return fire, I like it - it helps us as that #10 man who can step in and provide a quality bat and will get a starter's # of ABs - but is it enough?
And if it's NOT enough, can we add more now that DJ is gone, and the Big Three are all injured or recovering from injury?
I'm with you, Matt: let's NOT waste this year.  But if we're gonna pull the trigger then find a way to add Zobrist without using the big guns - then trade the big guns for that last piece. Don't use the piece you need to land the best player on the second-best one.
Most likely, the Ms have the... gumption... to add one guy.  It might even BE Zobrist - but that would likely be it.  We COULD win the WS with this team with the right adds... but I don't see them happening. On the plus side, a 2015 team with improvements from Zunino and Miller that has Zobrist on it (and finally gets that OFer) is still a contender. There are worse fates.


And if the Ms had a plan to add Zobrist AND get another bat (an OF, or say Morneau at 1B) then I would be thrilled to have Ben on my team.  I love that guy / hate it when he plays us.
We also have Kivlehan and Choi who both play first.  In fact, tell me which of these dudes is the Deej:
Player A: .300 /.366 /.491 /.857, .35 eye
Player B: .313/.370/.578/.948, .40 eye
The slugging gives it away as Player B, but Kivlehan isn't a slouch and he's still climbing.  Might only be Mitch Moreland, but stranger things have happened than a guy like that finding success.
And Choi is Choi - another shot at corner-Choo without a horrible LHP split. But his suspension makes him essentially worthless to other teams, "forcing" us to keep him.  If only Choo had gotten himself suspended all those years ago. ;-)
*shrugs* The Rangers had three 1B a couple years ago, one pedigreed and a couple other good ones.  They traded two of em, and then had to get another first bagger. As long as we get a couple good players this offseason I don't really care if DJ is here or not.  We need to compete while Felix can still pitch like this. Watching Verlander this year should give anyone pause when it comes to counting on a monster pitcher to stay that way.  Also, poor Santana. And CC.  And...and... and.
Strike while Felix is stil the undisputed King and Cano is in his prime. Just make sure you get back the right weapons, and aren't bringing a knife to a gunfight at the OK Corral with the Angels and As.

lr's picture

As I kind of do, then he's just not a super valuable commodity. My worry is his OBP skills are going to keep him from reaching that 4 WAR upside. It's just unrealistic to think he could slug .550 in Safeco as a RHB. I know, this isn't exactly a move the meter position to take, valuing OBP over SLUG, but I think it's important to note. If you walk 8%, you're going to have a roughly 60 point patience score. DJ hasn't hit the 8% mark in his last 3 levels, though again, we're not talking 1,000 PA's either. If you slot him at a 50 point patience guy, and around a 21% K guy, maybe his first year or three, you're looking at a 250-270 average, and thus a 300-320 OBP. Add to that a 430-460 SLUG, which is a reasonable mid projection in my opinion, and you've got 260/310/450. Does that have value? Sure, some.
For reference, Lucas Duda and Garrett Jones both have a K rate at 21%, and normal BABIP's, and their BA's are both in the 250's.
Here's a reasonable template: 6% BB rate, 21% k rate. .165 ISO. Guess who's producing that this year? Dayan Viciedo. He's got a 240/290/400 slash line. What if that were DJ's sort of low end mid projection? Based on the rate stats, he's in that general vicinity. Jan Gomes: 6% BB, 23% K, 175 ISO, for a 260/305/435 slash line.
Bottom line for me is this. If you're going to post below average walk rates, I don't really want you on the Mariners, unless you have something else you do really well. If DJ can ISO over 230, or get his K% under 15% or could play above average corner outfield defense, then I'd get more excited about him. As it looks now, to me, he's another guy that is going to live or die on his power, and I don't think he has enough of it to live.
I do understand that he's only 22, and has 1st round pedigree, and that he could jump a level or two and become an 850+ guy. There are legitimate reasons to have hope for him. But that's his upside, and his plate discipline, or lack there of, is going to make it that much harder to reach.


I was looking for information about minor league bb% as an indicator for MLB success. Ran across a study that showed burnouts as having only 3% less MiL BB's on average than the successful MLB Players in the pool. 18.5% higher strikeout rate if you want to talk about that. This puts into question whether making decisions of a minor leaguer's chances based even somewhat on his BB% is a good idea. Saying that's the reason they won't be [pick an adjective] doesn't seem reasonable in that light.
Sorry about the lazy link, but if you want to read that study: http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/4/22/2123847/the-significance-of-min...
Another interesting thing I noticed is that Peterson doesn't appear to be the RHB that many are claiming. In 2013 he had a .994 OPS vs RHP and he's put up .993 OPS vs RH so far this year. No, not LHP.
Vs LHP in 2013 he hit only .664 OPS, .868 so far this year. This is also where his walks are really lacking, not that he's been doing great against righties with free passes either. We're talking about few PA, but that may be a part of the problem. If he needs more exposure to LHP to figure them out, just how much can he improve with how much experience? Because .990's OPS vs RH as RH. I mean...shouldn't that change how we view him? Is he a reverse platoon split or an absolute monster once he figures out lefties?
Something else to consider always is that walks are essentially decided by an imperfect human and presumably more so in the case of lower minor league umps. With pitching this is starting to be talked about more but it applies to hitters as well. High K/ low BB isn't entirely up to the players eye, but also the pairs behind him.


I'm okay with GMZ's approach to Peterson and looking at the future as well as the present, they don't have to be mutually unavailable. I like Ruggiano, Souza, Mike O'Niell (best plate eye in the minors says Ben Badler and his 400+ OBP) and Grichuk. Would pass on Choo too, let him and Fielder keep the Rangers budget locked down, with an assist from Rios who stole 16 bases but was caught 8 times. As is this team can win without any serious bad breaks, which would be the case no matter who they might add.


...I am only willing to give up Franklin and Peterson if it's for Zobrist SUPERSUB...not Zobrist OFer...meaning I wouldn't do that unitl I've already acquired either Dunn or Rios or Byrd.


lr's holding down the "how much upside can we REALLY expect from DJ?" category beautifully, but there are so many variables in the minors when it comes to walks / batting eye, and power, and ability to hit quality breakers, et al.
You can guess many things from a minor league slash line, but the major one is this: who wants to swing, and who wants to work the count - and what they do with the pitch once they make contact.
DJ wants to swing.  He wants to hit hittable pitches, and with his batting average he's definitely making contact.  But his K rate is high for a dude who is JUST swinging at hittable pitches.  There's some fishing in his game.  He has a diving problem at the plate, and I dunno how much he's cleaned that up in High Desert.  Deej was a HR monster in college (and not just in Albuquerque) but whether he can be a crusher in the big leagues - in SAFECO - is undetermined.
You would think DJ would be in the Aramis Ramirez mold.  But Aramis had quite a bit more patience in the minors than in the bigs. Will DJ find the walks? Eric Chavez started his minor league career off a bit like this, but he was younger and didn't strike out quite as much.  Adrian Beltre is that kind of hitter in the bigs, but Safeco chewed him up. Of course, guys do learn how to take walks... A nice hitter like Paul O'Neill had a .5 eye in the minors, a .75 in the bigs, and had years in his peak where he had more walks than Ks (I know, steroid-era asterisks, but still).
Like I said, the big question: who IS DJ, and how much can he help us? I don't think we can say for sure yet. I'd like to see what happens to his walks and Ks now that he's in AA where the pitching and umpiring are both better.  As Plawsable says, he's demolishing righty pitching.  As lr says, if he can't pound the ball around (and out of) the park while catching enough grass to keep his average high, then his upside at first remains limited.  It's hard to be Roberto Clemente (.315/ .360/. 475, 6% walk rate, 130 OPS+), especially if you wanna strike out a bunch.
More likely that you become Joe Carter (.260 /.305/. 465, 6% walk rate, .4 EYE, 105 OPS+ with a nice little 110-130 OPS+ peak). Of course, Joe was a multiple time All-Star and MVP vote-getter with 400 homers and 1400+ RBIs in his career who was "only" worth 19 WAR... while he helped Toronto toward hoisting some kind of trophy or other.
Maybe that's an inkblot test.  Say DJ Peterson = Joe Carter. What's that worth to you?


Plawsable - that study does a great job of highlighting that there are multiple different TYPES of MLB successes and that K rate is the most important thing to notice. But I don't think it says that BB% isn't important to consider. It says that players with many different BB% can be successful. But What is DJ's hitter template? Does this study isolate the guys in his specific template and look at BB% *then*...no it does not.
We have isolated his template as "modest power - higher-than-normal K rate - good contact (for normal or slightly better BABIP)"...unless his skills actually change from here, his template cannot produce a very high OBP, which forces him to live by his pop...which we are all admitting is modest.
I don't think he's going to "burn out"...but I don't think he's going to be a star either. Just because he's our best hitting prospect...doesn't mean he's a GOOD hitting prospect. We don't really have any good hitting prospects right now (if by good, we mean having a good chance to be MLB minor stars or better) that are any higher than A ball.


We have isolated his template as "modest power - higher-than-normal K rate - good contact (for normal or slightly better BABIP)"...unless his skills actually change from here, his template cannot produce a very high OBP, which forces him to live by his pop...which we are all admitting is modest.
Many people have assumed that DJ's power is modest, that's true.  I have too.  It's not Gallo or Bryant homer power, to be sure.  He's not spiking 75-80 on that scale.
But to be fair to DJ: he has NEVER hit for "modest power" anywhere. Ever. 
We assume that his power numbers are gonna come down. But he smashed the ball for a bit in the MWL, he crushed for a .260 ISO on the road in the Cal League (still a hitter's league, admittedly), and he demolished college (in a power-hitter's park and a lesser league also).  We assume he can't keep it up, that he'll reign back in to modesty and stop flashing his power legs everywhere under that short skirt.  Demure DJ has to be arriving any time now...
DJ admits he's not a pure HR hitter.  From the Times:

“I think I tried to do a little too much the first month,” Peterson said. “Everyone hears about the Cal League and High Desert and how much the ball flies there,” Peterson said. “I think I tried to do too much. That short left field wall was yelling at me every game.”
With small parks and the wind blowing out, Peterson found himself trying to pull pitches into the air for homers. It worked against him.
“When I’m on, I’m using right center, left center and the right field line,” he said. “But that wasn’t part of my game that first month, I was dead pull. It wasn’t good. Once I settled down, got back into my approach, it all started clicking for me.”
He wants to be an all-fields hitter, but his pull power... the dude slugged .800 in college with the new worthless bats.  You could soak a rolled-up newspaper in a lake for a day and use it to hit the ball further than with those BBCOR bats. People blamed his excessive results on the park and altitude.  This year DJ is tied for 5th in all the minor leagues as far as extra-base hits go... but of course that is league and park discounted as well.  There's Bryant, Seager, 27 year old Kang, Gallo, and then DJ.
At SOME point, if he keeps hitting for power to keep up with Bryant, Seager and Gallo we're gonna HAVE to take the "modest power" label off of him, right? I don't think he can, necessarily, with his LD% as low as it is, but that's what I want to see in AA.  How does his game change against real pitchers in a real park?
If he's still pounding the ball everywhere by season's end and those line-drives are climbing, then let's remove the "modest power label" disclaimer for a bit, shall we?


When a college hitter mashes with the new composite bats, that really means something.  Mike Zunino conquered composite, and now we know he has truly plus power.  Back in the day, any feeb could hit for extra bases with his triple walled aluminum terminator bat.  The composite bat makes college baseball a lot easier to understand.


The study isn't specific enough for our purposes, and you covered using only OPS or K's or BB's (which was part of my point) to evaluate as being too limited.
365 PA this year with 27 2b and 21 HR. Not sure "modest" isn't downplaying his xbh potential. Maybe I just view modest as meaning close to average and you mean not elite? His pop is certainly not average anyway. I'm thinking maybe you mean HR distance? I can't find any statistical info on that myself so I went to video:
Miguel Cabrera first 673 pro PA saw 62 BB and 128 K with about .700 OPS.
DJ Peterson has 547 pro PA with 47 BB and 117k with a .948 OPS.
OK the 4 year age difference to that point is pretty big. Carlos Gonzales, José Bautista. Do those guys fit that template? Low BB high K high Contact "modest" power... Looks like a fit to me. Dj's ISO in the low minors are higher than any of them so I'm a bit confused by the talk that his are too low to have any chance of Stardom.

lr's picture

I think he may mean compared to his position. If you sort 1B this year by slug, there are 26 qualified guys. Numbers 12, 13, and 14 (middle of the pack) are Matt Adams, Freddie Freeman, and Chris Davis. Their ISO's are .203 .199 and .192 respectively. So a .200 ISO would put you middle of the pack at 1B. I think most of us in this thread would agree that at least for his first couple years, a .200 ISO would be closer to his upside than his mid projection. I think his ISO out of the gate a year and half from now or so will be in the 160-190 range. Does he have upside to get to .220 or beyond? I think so. But again, unless his walk rate jumps significantly, it HAS too for him to become a guy you want to have at 1B for 5 years, because he isn't going to provide value anywhere else. If he's giving you 270/320/450 as a pre arb guy, sure, that is valuable to an extent. In our park, that would put him in the 120 wRC+ neighborhood.
An obvious comparison that I hadn't thought of until now would be Kendrys Morales last year. He put up a 277/336/449 last year in Safeco, good for a 117 wRC+. To me that's DJ's higher end projection.
Another decent comparison would be Michael Saunders, who this year has a 275/330/430 line, which comes to a 112 wRC+. When you account for the RHB penalty Safeco imposes, would a mid projection be all that far off from that line for Peterson? That's about a .160 ISO, with an 8% BB rate and a 23% K rate. That seems a very reasonable mid projection to me. I should clarify that by MID projection, I mean he does still improve some from now until he reaches MLB. A low projection would imply that he doesn't improve much as at all, and what he is now is what you're going to get. If that's the case, he's definitely not worth having on a ML roster.
What would his upside be? I ask you because you've obviously followed him for some time, you seem to have a good grasp on what he could do if everything clicked. Is he a guy that could get his K% down around the 15% mark? Does he have enough natural power to be in the .220+ ISO club?


Well we know that would make DJ worth something like 20 million a year on the open market, right?  WAR/$ is going up with the new TV contracts, so by the time he gets up and is posting that kind of figure he's DEFINITELY worth that as a 4 WAR player. How would $20 million of production every year not be a super-valuable commodity? Like I said, that's basically an Aramis Ramirez peak with All-Star appearances and MVP votes.  I think you're saying that if that's his peak, then we're betting he doesn't hit it or that even if he does it's not a huge loss - is that correct? So if he maxes out at 3-4 WAR instead of Trout's extravagant totals, then he's not a huge loss because the super-upside isn't there.  Please let me know if I'm misinterpreting you.
(As an aside: modern analysis seems to have no room for the value of a hitter who can drive in runs. 9 Brendan Ryans can't bring each other home from their random singles, and while defense at some point overlaps and becomes less valuable, hitting does not - and plus hitters with power will continue to outperform their WAR figures as there becomes less power in the game.  But that's a different discussion.  I mean, quick: the Ms can only add one player in their prime to this team: Ozzie Smith or Jim Thome.  Who do you want?  Both guys are 75ish WAR players for their careers after all, and we could use upgrades at both positions, so there should be no difference, right?  A run saved is a run scored.  Anyway...).
Let's say DJ can't hit that 4 WAR total and is only a 2 WAR player - is that enough? Brandon Moss was a 2 WAR player last year.  Allen Craig got 2.5 in 2012.  Adam Lind and his .500 SLG earned 2-ish last season.  If we're saying it's not okay to be Moss, Craig or Lind, then what exactly is the definition of a decently-plus 1B?
Let's say he's Viciedo, who at .260 /.300 /.425 career has basically been replacement-level on a corner according to WAR. I assume we don't want him then, right?  A .725 OPS first baseman?  We've had that.  His name is Smoak, or thereabouts. Smoak's career OPS is .690, so it would be a BIT of an improvement, but probly not enough to impress too many people.
If the HIGH upside of being Aramis Ramirez, multiple-time All-Star is not worth keeping DJ around to try for, and the hoped-for-but-not-pie-in-the-sky landing spot of Craig, Lind and Moss is not good enough (especially since his current plate discipline may not allow him to get there), then yes we'd absolutely be better off trading him because there's no reason to risk a couple of more Smoak-like seasons just to get that sort of 2 WAR moderate-sweetspot upside.
But what 1B prospect IS worth keeping at that point?
I guess I feel like WAR at bat-positions is oddly perceived. Ichiro cannot provide his utmost value to the team that is trying to drive him in with Ryan or Ackley instead of Clark or A-Ram.  Take Seager off this team and where are we?  Add another Seager and what do we have? .280/.350/.490 from another hitter could win us a ring.
Is that a valuable commodity, or not?


Peterson looks superior or similar to me in every way to the same level except for age. Sexson may have more power off the bat but I'm thinking that DJ's is being downplayed by most people. He has big power and will hit some long HR. How'd Sexson do at the Safe? I'd take a 22 year old version right now, But unfortunately this one is a better contact hitter with more athleticism so that's not possible. Sexson surely had more distance, but I don't think it's as much more as others do after scouring for videos.
Edgar Martinez did just fine as a RHB at the Safe because he was a contact hitter that used the whole field. Those attributes are not out of reach for DJ in my opinion. He's shown some of those skills already. I'm not saying he's Edgar, obviously the BB's are a huge difference in that case and there are many steps between DJ at 22 and Edgar at 31.
What I'm saying is there's 2 RHB with success at the Safe (leaving Boone out of the conversation, or not) who have little in common. He has some of the attributes of each. Not proven to the same extent yet obviously but the possibility that a RHB can hit well here exists.
DJ's ISOs so far are all over .200. Mostly over .220. He can ISO over .220. He has. Will he in MLB? You never know regardless of what they've done in the minors. It seems more likely that he does that than raise his BBs to over 10%, but that is still a possibility too. Especially if pitchers start fearing him more, nibbling, and he adjusts to that.

lr's picture

My premise is that a guy with a 10-20% chance of reaching 4 WAR as his maximum reasonable upside just isn't all that valuable to have 5 years before he might reach said upside. We're talking about a guy who is probably a year and a half away just from getting his first shot at starting his ML career. Then you're talking about another few years of learning, adjusting, getting stronger, etc before you hit his peak. To me, he isn't all that valuable. I've already stated why, and you've agreed with me on some of it, so no need to rehash that all here.
If you told me I could plug him in starting April of 2016 and he was going to be a minimum 2 WAR kind of player, and hit his 4 WAR peak a few years after that, then sure, I'd value him differently. But where there exists upside, there also exists downside. He may never develop, and in four years may be in a different organization. It's just basic prospect projection. As it stands on July 16 2014, I don't hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade that makes sense for this team involving DJ, and I don't wait for a superstar return to make it.
I don't like the Moss, Craig and Lind examples because you're talking about guys who are in their age 28-29 seasons putting up wRC's in the 135-140 range. You're not expecting him to put those numbers up in his first two seasons are you? And even if we did give DJ a 2 WAR projection 3 years from now, that 2 WAR season from Moss last year put him 15th out of 25 1B. In 2012, that would have put him 13th out of 25. So middle of the pack, and that's what we seem to agree is his mid-high projection. And again, that's 2017, 2018.
I hope my position isn't misconstrued as, we should dump him for a relief pitcher, or he has very little value. I'm not saying that at all. I just jumped in to point out why I think there should be some serious consideration given to the idea that DJ isn't all that glamorous as a prospect, as we sit today. By next June, maybe he adds a 3 or 5 points to his walk rate, or cuts his K rate to 15%, or continues slugging in the upper echelon of MILB. If that's the case, you'd certainly have to valuate him differently.


Seriously, lr - thanks for coming by the thread. This has been a great convo (even if I'm not getting enough work done this afternoon - new job next week, so I might as well post here while I can during the day, right?).
Slugging expectations: twenty dudes posted a .220+ ISO last year.  I don't know how many guys have the natural power you're talking about to do that consistently any more.  It may only be the Gallos and Bryants, and everyone else will have to be park-assisted by doing it in Cincy or Fenway.  I don't think Peterson is in that slugging weight-class, not in the Safe.
I think of DJ as about an 18% K guy (so he's running a little hot for the season), and he was taking his bases in June.  10% walks would be fine even if he ran 20% Ks with his approach (which was basically his June).  He also took his walks on the road (9% for the year, 8.5 for his career).  It's at home that his approach has suffered, and that was a High Desert problem.  I'm glad they got him outta there.
I believe after whatever his adjustment period is, DJ is gonna hit .280-.300 in the Safe (which would be higher elsewhere, obviously, thanks to Safeco's BABIP depression), take 50-55 walks, strike out 110-120 times, and net himself 65-70 extra-base hits.
Basically, I expect him to have Seager's year so far, minus a few walks and plus a few singles. I think Peterson is an .800-.850 OPS bat, but in the Safe that's still pretty plus.  I would absolutely take a RH Seager at first base and be pretty thrilled. Maybe the Mariners have made me lower my expectations too much. ;-) 
Maybe you're right and he's gonna crash into a Beltre's line with the Mariners of .265/.315/.445 (which is close to that Montero line you posted earlier).  Beltre for Texas: .315/.360/.540.  It's entirely possible to be THAT crushed by a ballpark, and perhaps DJ's power isn't plus-enough for him to make it work.
But man, when he hits em it looks like Zunino, who tags em out as arcing fly balls that are in NO danger of being held by the park.  I expect DJ to be more like a 130 wRC+ and not that 115-ish figure, but I won't argue that he could fall in at that .270/.330/.440 line, certainly to begin with. I don't think that's an especially flawed mid-range projection. I just think he's faster than Kendrys and makes better contact than both Morales and Saunders, which leaves it up to how much he can drive the ball. If DJ's power goes up in Smoak, I'll be very disappointed. But I'm willing to risk it - unless the absolute right hitter comes along to put us over the top NOW.

topherdig's picture

i would trade DJ for Zobrist. I am no scout or expert, but if people in the know believe he has value for 5 more years, get him now. We need him more than Price. Pitching we have and still need to trade for #4 or 5 SP. But high OBP hitter we need desperately.

topherdig's picture

M's should get both Rios and Zobrist. Saunders is too often injured and certainly cannot be counted on. M's need 2 OF and Rios and Zobrist make that happen. Zobrist should be good for 5 years and don't know what DJ will be like. Or maybe even Byrd.


We tend to act like all prospect numbers are equal and ignore age differences, but we shouldn't.  D.J. is in AA by age-22, and thriving.  That's very important.  It means he can keep up with the age-arc that you usually see for guys who go on to be impact MLB hitters.
I agree with lr that his BB-rate is a bit lower than you'd like to see, and his K-rate is a bit higher, and he would need to maintain a high power rate in order to sustain that (which, so far, he's done).
But Gordon is right that you can't read too much into the High Desert stats, so seeing what kind of power he has at Jackson is key.
Insert High Desert cautionary tale:
Of the awesome 2012 High Desert offense, only Miller kept up the pace in Jackson -- and guess which one is the one in the big leagues? Romero got rushed up to AAA where he kind of stalled before getting promoted because they didn't really have anyone else who could play OF, and now is back at AAA.  Hicks, Proscia, Marder and Landry crashed big-time in AA, and Proscia even got released.  Morban got hurt, again, and Jones tread water (which was good enough for a center fielder).  Mike McGee didn't even get promoted to AA after 17 HR and near-200 ISO and retired.  Mickey Wiswall retired this year after injuries.  All of them had High Desert ISO of 200 or close to it, which turned out to be meaningless, except in the case of Miller.
Point being, we need to give D.J. a fair amount of time in Jackson before we conclude how "modest" his power is.  So far, it is not modest, and he is on track.

okdan's picture

I think I tend to fall just slightly onto Gordon's side, with respect to Deej. But you're making a lot of really good points, and making me think about it in another way. The Moss / Craig / Lind point is a good one, they are 28-29 years old. That would be ~6 years into DJ's future. It certainly impacts the evaluation.


Everybody learns differently.  The reason you keep DJ in the minors for another year and a half is to hopefully avoid an extended learning period as he tries to learn TOO much in the pros.
Look, I used Moss and Lind as examples of the kind of impact I expect him to have.  If I'd used 23-25 year olds you have guys still in their "early learning curve" - those guys get discounted too.  Matt Adams is the same kind of hitter, if you want a younger example:
DJ, minors: .314/ .371/ .578/ .948, 7.9% walks, 19.7% Ks
Adams, Minors:  .316/ .362/ .560/ .922, 6.8% walks, 17.1% Ks
How's Matt doing in his expected 2 year adjustment phase at ages 24 and 25? .299/ .333/ .501/ .834, posting a 130 OPS+ over his first 700-ish PAs, even as his batting eye falls off the cliffs of insanity (9 walks against 61Ks so far this year).
Can Matt keep up his high-wire act at the plate with a 5.1% walk rate as a big-leaguer against a 22.8% K rate?  HIGHLY unlikely... but nothing says those values are permanent either as he matures.  And in the meantime he's the biggest bat in the Cardinals playoff push.
Of course, Eric Hosmer is that kind of hitter too. 24 years old now, plenty of big-league experience,  .275/ .328/ .417/ .745 career with a 7.5% walk rate.  He doesn't strike out as much, but he also doesn't have the kind of power that either DJ or Adams have shown. He also walked a lot more in the minors, and his 15% K rate isn't helping him be especially productive in the bigs so far. *shrugs* Prospects are malleable. 
It's all best-guessing.  I know you wouldn't want to dump him for some 7th inning LOOGY :-) but he's not automatically 5 years away from helping us, either.  Seager went from AA to plus major-league hitter in 1 year (AA to the pros in 2011, 108 OPS+ in 2012, followed by 117 and then 138 so far this year).
Is DJ likely to land as a 130 OPS+ hitter out of the gate?  No.  Could he?  Adams did. The Mariners are abysmal at developing players once they're in their big-league careers, but it's possible for DJ to break that streak. I don't know yet how good DJ can be, which is why it's hard to get a good handle on his evaluation.  I MUCH prefer hitters with good batting eyes, but Deej has average and power, and always has. He's a bit of a conundrum, so I don't mind at all the lower evaluations of him. I think it's absolutely possible that he low-ends and disappoints us all.
But trading him is betting on that. I would hate to let our .200 ISO prospect (the first one that can actually HIT in what, 2 decades?) get away because we figured, "well, he can't keep this up..."
I would trade him for another .200 ISO kind of hitter who can help us for the next few years, basically moving up the timetable on Peterson. Short of that, I'm very reluctant, that's all.  Righty power is getting more scarce by the season. If you find some - and have a park that scares off righty FA like we had the heads of past right-handers stuck on pig poles all around the stadium - it's probably best to keep it, unless you're pretty sure the dude CAN'T translate to the big-leagues.  I would have traded Halman and Liddi early.  And Tui. And Clement.  DJ doesn't have those kinds of swings, so him I'd keep.
But in two years this is gonna be a really interesting thread to re-visit.  MAN, do I hope he's crushing it for us in his first full season - or failing somewhere else while we polish our World Series ring.

lr's picture

Throughout the course of this discussion, so I appreciate you helping me out.
A few notes:
I'd love to see a breakdown of the last 10-20 years of top 100 prospect 1B in their 22-25 seasons. How many flame out and don't make it to the majors by 25, how many make it by 24, which seems to be DJ's trajectory, and then what % do well/do poorly, how many hit like Adams his first two years, etc. This article touches on some of that: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/dj-peterson-the-wisdom-of-first-round-fir...
Adams at face value does seem to be a pretty legit comp thus far into DJ's career. He took more time in the lower minors, but he also was a 23rd pick. Once he hit AA though at his age 23 season, he took off. The ISO jumped to 260, he improved the BB's, the K's jumped only slightly, then the next year he started his descent into what he is today, a free swinging masher. Walks dropped, K's jumped, and the ISO approached 300.
I think Adams' 2013 rookie season is a pretty good baseline for mid projection DJ's first couple years, minus about 40 points of ISO. Safeco is just death on RHB. I still stick with the 260/310/450 ish line for his first full season or two. That's obviously subject to change if he leaps a level or two before he hits Safeco.
Seager was a guy posting 10-12% K rates in the high minors, with healthy BB rates to go with, and he hits left handed. And he's the ONE prospect in the last 5 years that has come up to Safeco and improved since arriving. Not sure he's a good example for prospecting DJ.
Gun to your head, what do you predict DJ's rookie slash will be in his first full (or 300+ AB) season, assuming it comes no later than 2016? You're right, it will be fun to revisit this 3 years from now and see how we did.
Mine is 260/310/450

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