Alex Liddi: Proceed to Level 202 Scan (Dean Palmer comp)

 ... I knocked off the Liddi "POTD" in a cursory fashion, having watched him for one game and having spent about 10 minutes thinking about him.

Liddi fanboyz were quick to declare unto me the Cheney word more perfectly, notably Lonnie and Malcontent.  Lonnie assures me that the Wells-type scatter chart doth not apply, and Malcontent presses the differences with just as much gusto:

If you let go of Liddi's April and look at his season in progress, Liddi was much better than his overall season suggests, his post April OPS was .857 (compared to his overall .821), his strike out rate was 25.9% instead of 27%.  In fact, his strike out rate fell every month:

APR     35.9%
MAY    28.0%
JUN      27.0%
JUL       25.9%
A/S       23.4%

That's pretty dramatic progress, it doesn't exactly make him Dustin Ackley, but those last 2 months and change hold real promise if he can maintain and build on them.

And I have to disagree with the Adrian Beltre comparison, in his worst season, Beltre struck out 118 times, that's likely to be a career low over a full season for Liddi.  I like Matt Williams a bit better for comparison.  Still not enough strike outs, but he had percentages near 25% early (ages 21-23) and relied almost exclusively on his impressive power for production neither walking, hitting for average, or stealing bases, which also figures to be Liddi's most likely route to being a productive hitter.

All points cheerfully conceded.  With Beltre we were just tossing out the .260-25-90 idea, nothing more.


Williams also averaged only 118 K's per year over his career, so if we're seeking greater precision in our hitting comps, then Dean Palmer is probably the prototype.

Palmer batted .250/.325/.475 over his career, 60:160 EYE, providing 30 doubles, 30 homers and not much else.  He was a fine ballplayer.

Or, a bit more modest, within this template, is our original Jose Valentin statline -- 120 to 140 strikeouts, 30 homers and 25 doubles.


=== EYE Ain't Everything, Dept. ===

For those amigos riding minors K/BB a bit too hard, consider Dean Palmer's minor league EYE ratios.  He fanned 558 times vs only 160 walks in the minors, batting only .242 there.

Retreating to K% as such is too simplistic, because if Palmer had chosen to walk more, he'd also have fanned more.  The point is, the EYE is 0.30 -- in the minors -- with tons of whiffs and a .240 batting average.

Also in the majors, at Liddi's age exactly, the Rangers let Palmer flail away for a .181 AVG in 300+ at-bats.  The next year he was also a .229 hitter with an embarrassing EYE.

But it didn't mean that Palmer was hopeless:  the next year, at age 24, he slugged .503 with 33 homers in the AL.   He finished his career averaging 33 homers per 162 games.


Alex Liddi is the same type of hitter as Dean Palmer, and probably ahead of him on an age-arc basis.


=== Are We Not Men?  We Are DEVO, Dept. ===

Though Mr. Liddi is certainly not devolving as a ballplayer, that is.

The progression throughout the year is a point I hadn't noticed, and is a huge chip in his favor.  As we're sitting here talking about it, Liddi looks better and better to me.

As with Casper Wells, you're talking about a player whose physical attributes give him an unfair advantage.  IMHO that has the effect of increasing his chances of winning.

You can compare a 94 mph pitcher and an 88 mph pitcher.  The slop-baller simply has to execute everything perfectly to the Nth degree -- his footwork, his leveraging, his game plan, etc etc.  However, the Michael Pineda type can be sloppy and it can still work out for him.

Alex Liddi has a linebacker's lean body mass, and he moves extremely well at 3B, and that means he just doesn't have to put a perfect swing on the ball like Ichiro and Ackley and Seager do.  Liddi is a "horseshoes and hand grenades" athlete.


Suppose that Alex Liddi is Dean Palmer.  

Do you want that at 3B?  Thirty homers, a slick glove, and other than that --- > mostly a .240 hitter with a bunch of strikeouts?

I'll take him over Chone Figgins and a .188/.241/.243 pitcher's line.  As Earl once put it, sort of, "Once every fifteen at-bats, Dean Palmer did a whale of a lot to win me a ball game."


paracorto's picture

I was afraid that sooner or later it would have happened. Glad however it happened now like it happened once early this season in AAA. Deserved lesson I guess and now it's important to watch if he's able to leave it behind his back and rebound immediately as required.


For Liddi comps, Palmer came up, but my first instinct was "Palmer was too good" but looking at the stats, if Palmer was too good what was I thinking with Williams, I'll buy Palmer, really he's a perfect match since every season was a roll of the dice, with seasons ranging from a .736 OPS up to 1.086 without much consistency throughout his career, Liddi will live and die by his BABiP.


Liddi-like 3B guys:
Gary Gaetti, minus his outlier '88 season: Hit .250 or so, and had 16-30 homers (give or take), struck out 80-120 times as a full time player.
Gaetti might be a Liddi IF the kid doesn't fully pan out but still contributes.
Liddi's downside is totally not making it in the majors.  I don't see that happening.
If Gaetti is the low mid-range projection, that ain't bad.
Brandon Inge, except with more power isn't a bad comparison for Liddi's low-range MLB projection.  Well, Inge came up way late (at 22 he was playing A ball) and never hit homers in the minors.  Inge wasn't bad for a few years....and Liddi is 4 levels ahead of him at the same age and has power Inge never dreamed of.
Mariner Jim Presley came up in  '84 at the age of 22.  Played 70 games.
Over the next 3 seasons, as a fulltime 3B, he hit .262-.308-.460, struck out 429 times, walked 114 times and hit 79 homers.
Liddi like?  Maybe.
Pagliarulo in '86 and '87 hit .236, K'ed 231 times and hit 60 taters. Struck out 2.5 times more than he walked. He was a valuable Yankee, OPS+ing 110 and 105 in those seasons.
If Liddi can approach 30 homers and field 3B, then he can hit .240 and strike out 130 times AND still be a quite valuable player.
Dean Palmer, as a 23 and 24 year old, may be the best template but he isn't the only one.
Can a bonking, low-ish average, K'ing 3B be productive?  It's been done before and Liddi is in that mold.
And if Liddi can be a 30 homerun 100+OPS+ 3B guy, then you just love a 35 double 100OPS+ Seager at SS.
Good as gold bets?  Perhaps not, but it looks less unlikely all the time.

Lonnie of MC's picture

...but somebody has to :)
Here's a piece I did on Liddi back in March of 2010: Linkedy-doo-dah
Check out those hit location charts, it's absolutely eye-opening!

ghost's picture

I get that he has tools Doc, but I still see a TON of errors and general mistakes on his defensive resume. If you're right and he's better defensively than his reputation suggests...(and that's entirely possible), then these comparisons are encouraging, but Brandon Inge would have been a below-replacement-level player if he hadn't been a +15 rrun defensive infielder in his prime. Gary Gaetti would have been somewhat useful, but no more so than, say, Ron Coomer or Dave Magadan if he didn't play good D as well as hit for occasional power. A utility infielder and that's all. All of your comps were tgood players...all of them were good to great fielders. IBIWISI with Liddi.

Hack's picture

My only problem with using a Dean Palmer as a comp is that in the time Palmer played, and in Texas at the same time as a Canseco and Palmeiro, can you trust his spike in power was natural?
Now I don't think there is any proof Palmer used steroids, and I'm not sure it matters in the discussion of Alex Liddi, but if his minor league numbers show low walks, high K's and a mediocre batting average and he worked his way into some power and production.  Was it experience or medication that brought the power into his equation?
I think Gaetti is the comp unless Liddi really just needs time to develop into who he can really become. 


Which then moves the 6'1", 175-lb Palmer closer to Liddi's natural size and power, doesn't it?
From a physical standpoint, Liddi *is* Palmer *assuming* roids -- and then plenty...
Good stuff Hack ...


My $0.02 on Gaetti, one of my fave players, BTW ...
Definitely see the idea, an 0.4'ish EYE, a 100 type OPS with 25 homers and ... a really tough ribbie man in high-leverage situations ... a ballplayer who was better than his stats indicated...
Personally don't fancy Gaetti as a comp, because am not sure that you could learn much about Liddi's forward arc there...
What we need is huge, powerful, VERY high strikeout guys on the infield IMHO... we want guys who literally weigh 225-245 lbs because the natural, easy power is an indispensible part of the evolution...
Or not :- )
As much as I hate to say, Mike Schmidt is first in that line.  And he was a lousy player at 22-23.


That declining K% chart gives me more hope about Liddi than anything I've seen yet.  It's even monotonic!
But I'm still mostly with Ghost -- Liddi's not my first choice, but it's way better to have attractive options than none at all.
1. Vinnie C improves his 3b defense (not out of the question)
2. F.Martinez lives up to his scout loooove
3. Liddi minimizes enough of his faults to have a decent career
or, maybe we take everything we love about Kyle Seager except make him 2-3 inches taller and 10-20 lbs. beefier -- now that could be your third-sacker of the future.


Two screaming meemies --- > well off to his glove side.
Liddi effortlessly pounced over like a tiger on a monkey, snagged them with a calm look on his face...
Second one he hopped up and threw the runner out by a mile.  But the first one simply rolled out of his glove as he got up ... about 30 seconds until he found it ... then he fired over like Michael Pineda and still almost got the guy.
Seager would have touched neither ball; Liddi was scored one error and one putout.
I'll take the learning curve, if you give me the natural gifts.  :- )

paracorto's picture

Mine too. It's a very hazardous thought and I'm a little ashamed just to think it but if ever we've to dream then let's dream high !
Coming back to earth however is really bizarre how the 3B position for the future M's switched in a few months from below-0 to Seager, Liddi, Franklin, Triunfel, Martinez and Catricala - as pointed out by you


Ditto!  Schmidt is a great age/arc this point.  I didn't mention Schmidt because he's the greatest 3B ever and tossing his name out was likely to ruin my point.
I personally think Pags and Presley are nice comps.  I wasn't so interested in body size matches, but in likely Liddi growth.
I want to see lots of a Liddi/Seager left side of the IF in the next few days and in ST.  I am quite intrigued by that.  I suppose Franklin could have something to say about that in ST and I love Ryan's glove but I'm interested in the experiment.
I remember that  Bill Russell became the Dodgers' full-time SS in '72 then Cey and Lopes came aboard a year later.  Add Garvey, who became a starter at 3B in '72 then got bumped to first when Cey came up and you had a terrific infield for nearlly a decade.
I see some of that happening here, perhaps.  BTW, more and more,  I see Russell as the lowside template of Seager at SS.  Russell was an adequate glove, mediocre might be the word, and a 90-ish OPS+ stick (which was pretty good for SS's in the 70's).
Seager may be that adequate SS glove with a pretty good SS stick.  The key, of course, is his being the adequate glove.  Nothing has shown me yet that he isn't.  I'll keep watching, though.


I flat-out love the way you say what's on your mind, from dugout view, without regard to whether the editors will like it or not.
Keep the spikes high, bro'.


Lurkers will put us down for 500 homers out of Liddi :- )
Jimmy Presley was the very first name I thought of too Moe ... a bit before most of these kids' time, wasn't it?

Lonnie of MC's picture

Those hit location charts were created from back when it was a functioning website.  The guy who put it all together threw out the warning that the locations are subject to whoever reported them to begin with, so, buyer beware!
What is legitimate about those charts though is that they show just how much Liddi uses the entire field.

Lonnie of MC's picture

The "traffic jam" is one of the most beautiful things that I have seen in many years of tracking the Mariners minor leagues.  For the first time in we actually have viable options at multiple positions. 
The downside of having all those options is that someone is going to slip through the cracks because of disuse, or what not.  Don't be entirely surprised in the next year or two if Matt Mangini is killing it for another team, or Liddi, or, or, or, or...


So Doc, if Liddi is the next Pressley... the question is who is the next Edgar from your list


The MLB immediate need at midsummer was 3b (the Ms were still "in the race" but Figgy was killing them), and the org viewed Seager, not Liddi, as the best immediate hope in the minors to fill it capably (as in, at least David-Bell-ishly), so they brought him up to Tacoma to see what he had, and the only way to get him time at 3b was to move Liddi somewhere else.  So Liddi to SS.  That's exactly when it happened.
I do not think it was a recognition of Liddi's defensive skills.  It was a way to keep Liddi on the field while they groomed Seager for a 3b audition.
My sense is that the org now views Seager as having failed his everyday-3b audition, and is now grooming him for a super-utility role. 
Therefore, Liddi at 3b and Seager at SS in the current audition.


Liddi is kinda fascinating.  He's nowhere near done growing into his game. 26 year old Liddi could be a terror - I just don't know that we have 4 years to give him.
I comped him to Tony Batista as Doc did (.250/.300/.450 career, .270/.320/.520 up years), and I like the Gaetti comp quite a bit too, but that doesn't mean that's his limit.  He's never gonna have a high average; he's not Frank Thomas, and most large humans with huge strike zones wind up with low averages.  It's just the nature of the game, and his swing isn't built for pepper, it's built for mashing.  His skill-set as shown is somewhat limiting on the upper-end, though as a truly young player his skillset isn't carved in stone.
But once you determine who you think Liddi is going to be (and as a 30 2B / 30 HR man in AAA at 22, there's a lot to like production-wise), you need to determine if you're keeping him or selling him.
Our traffic jam currently looks like this:
3B - Seager, Liddi, Martinez, Catricala (doubtful), Tenbrink (more doubtful), Miller or Franklin (whichever can't make it at SS), Proscia (AA next year), Triunfel (he'll be gone soon) and growing.
Somebody out of that group is gonna work out.  The key is to choose the right one.
I think Seager is a utility man for a bit, re-emerging as a starter later in his career.  Catricala is moving to the OF, I believe, and Tenbrink when he comes back as well (think of him as a potential Casey Wells shortly). Like I said, I don't see Triunfel sticking around much longer - he'll be moved for somebody's moderate bullpen arm or something. 
I think Martinez has the inside track as he's a key piece that Jack traded for.  But 3B right now, long-term, looks to me like Liddi (one option left), F-Mart (several) and Miller (just getting started).
I don't expect to give Liddi the job.  That doesn't mean he can't take it - he's in prime position to show he can do what it takes.


As far as build is concerned.  Both are large men but Liddi's power is much more extreme. 
Did the M's ever consider Morse for 3rd base when he was here?


Morse played everywhere in Tacoma and in his first go around in Seattle he was evenprimarily a SS.  After that he played 3B, COF and 1B.
He wasn't very good anywhere, although I thought him decent in the OF and at 1B.
I also thought that with more 3B time he could have been adequate there. 
It seemed to me that the knocks on Morse were that he had no "natural" position and that he was tall and big but didn't seem to be a power guy.  His skill set, getting on base, didn't seem to match his body type. The poweer came, though, didn't it.
We moved him way too early, considering that he was up 4 seasons in a row and hit decently or better in the first three, all cups of tea. 
Consider that in '09 we opened with Morse in Tacoma and Bad Wlad patrolling LF in Safeco.  Egads, man. the horror, the horror!  Endy Chavez was our next LF'er.  And then we trade Morse (hitting .312-.370-.481 and beginning to show some AAA power for the first time) to Washington for Ryan Langerhans who had hit .167 and .234 in the two previous years.
This was disasterous GM'ing and talent evaluation.  Not only did we over project Wlad, Chavez AND Langerhans, but we hugely underpredicted Morse.  0 'fer 4!
I think you could make this an 0 'fer 5 if you include the M's front office confidence in Saunders as a factor in this move.
This was a Star Trek moment:  "Beam me up Scotty, no intelligent life here."


Can't a traffic jam be both beautiful and grotesque?  :- )
Grotesque that Brian Giles should have played as many AAA games as he did, behind the 1990's Indians... Beautiful of course for us writing POTD after POTD on 30 to 40 different legit M's prospects...


... Liddi wasn't moved to SS because of any possibility of his becoming a shortstop.
But guys like Troy Glaus and Adrian Beltre wind up filling in at SS, here and there, precisely because their remarkable 3B play makes a SS-bandaid something that is feasible.


*Morse was kind of a 60 HIT, 60 PWR guy in my opinion... Liddi more of a 50 HIT, 70 PWR type.
Always liked the shape of Morse's swing and the way he could cover the baseball.  Liddi is cut from a different cloth as far as the HIT tool; Liddi looks like a mistake hitter to me, and we don't mean that in a bad sense.
But yeah.  There are all kinds of similarities between the two players.  Good stuff Merks.

Taro's picture

I really like that Dean Palmer comp as an upside scenario. Thats pretty much perfect skills-wise and age-wise.
I'm not very high on Liddi personally, but Palmer is a great comp.

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