Langerhans' Upside

Shandler wrote, going into the season, "If he were 22 with that second-half power spike, we'd be interested.  At 29, what we see is his peak flying by."

Langerhans' game in the past, his "skill set," has been that of a do-everything-and-do-nothing-well outfielder, a swiss army knife, a la Jeremy Reed.  This is precisely the skill set that Dr. D, educated at the virtual feet of Earl Weaver, is so biased against.  Such players make life *convenient,* but give you little opportunity to leverage the game.  Specialized skills -- the stolen base, the gold glove, the platoon stick -- those guys give you opportunities to take the game to the opponent.

As we opined earlier, there's nothing about one more versatile, pretty-good-glove, questionable-bat 4th outfielder that suits the Mariners any better than it fits 29 other teams.  All 30 teams can choose to put a 29-year-old insurance policy ahead of their prospects if they care to.   The good thing going into this trade was Langerhans' lefthanded bat:  you simply can't have too much lefthand hitting in Safeco.

Hence my shrug and "ehhhhhhhh" with respect to the acquisition of a Jeremy Reed clone.


It is a completely different question as to whether Ryan Langerhans has upside left.

The Washington Nationals did not think so; they gave him away for Mike Morse.  Neither did the enthused local endorsement of the trade, so far as I saw, base its zeal on Langerhans' ability to suddenly become John Kruk; the local endorsement was that as a backup outfielder, he didn't cost anything to acquire.

But how about Capt Jack?  Did he see another Russ Branyan when the very people who owned the player did not?


In his first few games, Ryan Langerhans has looked like Johnny Damon, not Jeremy Reed.  He waits on the pitch, snaps the bat through the zone and covers it (gets just a tad on top of the ball) even when it's a fastball up.   And he does it from his back leg.

For 8 AB's or whatever, this yo-yo has looked like an ML star in the batter's box.  He's practically Raul Blinkin' Ibanez out there.  ;- )

What does the mainframe think of the proposal that Langerhans had a Eureka in the minor leagues?    Here are the things suggesting it is possible:

1) Used to be a fairly hot prospect

2) Is big, fast, more physically gifted than the "average" major leaguer

3) Took a major step forward last year, in limited AB's

4) That being at only age 28

5) Home park might have disguised developing power

6) Batting eye took alarming leap up (.35 to .83)

7) When your batting eye approaches 1.0 you have Dr. D's attention, period.  Baseball is about the strike zone


Is Dr. D intrigued by Langerhans' remaining upside?  After watching him in batter's box for two games?

I am, yes.

He's my starting left fielder for the next fifty games, or until he finds his level.  If it's roto, I'm picking the guy up.  How 'bout you, Taro?  Papa?


If you're a bird dog asked to go look at Langerhans for one series, your report back is, "Commanding the zone and getting on top of the ball.  Stinging the ball to all fields with authority.  May finally be realizing his potential.  Recommend closer look."

That's one series.  Langerhans probably HASN'T jumped a plateau; the odds are with the house.  But the neat thing is, he *may* have.   And nobody's complaining if he buys the young Rainiers prospects some time to figure a few more things out.


=== Enter San-Man ===

I always forget whether Sandy-Raleigh is a Braves' fan but am 95% sure (this time) that he is.  Sandy has warned that Langerhans DOES have upside left, that he has been labeled and kept on the bench and that you could be looking at a poor man's Branyan here.

He should know.  San-Man has got to be more familiar with Langerhans than any of us; it's like you were having a conversation with a Royals' fan about Gil Meche.  And this is the guy who's telling us heads-up.

I looooov eeeeet.

M's are fun to watch this year, aren't they?  Buy those new suits a sody pop.


Dr D



Geoff Baker was two steps ahead of me on Wlad Balentien.  Right out of the gate he prophesied that the Langerhans pickup was Wlad's death knell.
I didn't get this right away, did you?  Langerhans wasn't even 100% sure to be with the Mariners, and if so, he looked like a 4th OF.
But Geoff was right on the button here.  After only a couple good games from Langerhans, you're completely free to move Wlad Balentien.   Even if Langerhans were to disappoint from here, you're covered well enough, and it doesn't look at all likely that he's going to disappoint.
Kudos again to the boys at the Bak'ry :- )

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

Which this year isn't far removed from being an Ms fan -- great pitching, no offense.  I could do name replacements on half my Ms articles, and they'd read just as well for the Bravos.
That said - here's the thing about Langerhans.  He's *STREAKY*.  What my eye saw when watching him was the skid-row version of Andruw Jones.  For two weeks, he'll look like he's "got it", and make you happy to bask in the glow of a "real" major league hitter tearing up the league.  Then, for a month, he'll look like he's a kid getting his first look at major league pitching, and he's just as obviously in over his head beyond belief.  At 22-25, that's not unusual, and even to be expected.  At 28, it means you're relegated to the role of #4 OF for the worst team in baseball, (the Nats - not the Ms).
The tough part about a player like this is ACCEPTING the slumps.  Psychologically, if a kid knows that every time he slumps, he's heading to the bench, he just adds pressure, presses, and extends the slumps.  So, when slumping, you give some days off - you slip him down in the order, perhaps -- but you don't take his job away.  That just makes his worst problem worse. 
The reason I noted Langerhans could be a 2nd tier version of Branyan is because when he came up with the Braves, Atlanta had a LOT of young OF talent.  In 2005, the Braves had Francoeur, and Kelly Johnson (who played OF at the time), along with Andruw.  They also had guys like Prado and Matt Diaz coming up, too.  They didn't Langerhans a really good shot at full-time play, because they didn't have to -- (and they had other guys that were generally liked a bit more than him).  They were hoping for a lefty who could dominate righty pitching.  Instead, for his career, Ryan hits .704 against righties and .792 against lefties.  THIS is why I was saying he could be another Branyan.  He's carried a reverse split - but has so little time, (barely 1,000 PAs in 4 legitimate seasons), that nothing is certain.


The key to rehabbing a streaky hitter is to figure out why he goes through protracted slumps.  A good batting eye never slumps though.  Even if Langerhans is struggling, I gotta believe he'll continue to get on base, run well and play good defense.


If Langerhans is in a red-hot streak as he debuts with the M's.  He certainly looks it!
OTOH, his K/BB went from 81/29 in 2007 to 31/25 in 2008!  That certainly raises our antennae as to whether those streaks are going to jell towards 'hot' a lot more frequently...
When a player is very young, those 'streaks' may (at times) be visions of what is going to be consistent performance later.
Was very taken with Langerhans' walk in the 9th against lefty Okajima (sp?).  With two strikes, he took a LH fastball just off the plate and low, and he took it decisively.  Then he took the next one for ball four.
Right now he's either dialed in huge, or he's reading the pitches great.  I'll take either one :- )


In 2003, Langerhans first got promoted to AAA.  Between AA and AAA that year, his K/BB was 2 (114/57).  In 2004 he began to get more comfortable with AAA, walking 70 times against 113 Ks and swatting 20 dingers while batting .310.
So he got called up to ATL, where he showed decent line drive power but had that 2 K/BB return (75/37 to be exact).  Then he ditty-bopped in and out of the line-up, his K/BB getting worse the less he played, and he eventually wound up back in the minors.  Starting full time in AAA in 2008, his BB/K was right back to the level it was at in 2004.
This looks to me like a guy who takes time to adjust to a new level (he did the same thing going from AA to AAA, the difference being that they let him keep playing through it) and needs to play every day to stay focused on the strike zone.
IMHO, while he may be streaky, the fact that left field is wide open for him right now give shim some cushion and he should be able to keep his K/BB down and his P/PA up.  I see a guy who, under the right circumstances, could be a 20 HR hitting plus fielding walk-taking minor star if everything pans out.  If not, he's still likely to be a tough out and to work the count and to get on base at a better clip than Wlad Balentien.

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