Q. How can Jay-Z, or anybody, compare Jesus Montero to Albert Pujols, when Pujols' strikeout totals were so low in the minors?
A. SSI suspects that Jesus Montero's HIT tool may be similar to Pujols', yes.
True, Pujols struck out only 47 times in 133 games in his age-20 minor league season. But how old was Albert, really, when he defected to the U.S. and played high school baseball here? How old was he when he played junior-college baseball in Kansas City? All we know about Albert is that he showed up in the minors, saying he was 20 years old, and that he had a .320/.380/.550 year in the minors when they put him there.
Meanwhile, Jesus Montero fanned 47 times in 92 games at a real age 19, in A+/AA baseball ... how many times would Albert Pujols have struck out, if he were a catcher?
Picture Steve Nash, riding a bus (or jet), lost in thought as to how he would execute an offensive play against Gary Payton the next night. Does this allow Nash any less time to work on his jump shot? Perhaps Nash didn't emerge as a great scorer, until later in his career, because 75% of his practice time and meditation time were spent on things other than scoring?
Picture Jesus Montero, riding a bus, lost in thought as to how he would get his pop times down in that night's ballgame. Perhaps Montero's offensive stats are affected, because 75% of his practice time and meditation time were spent on things other than hitting?
Who said this?
It has been clearly observed that players hit worse when asked to catch than they do when they’re asked to play any other position on the field. The energy required to put on a suit or armor and squat behind the plate for three hours has a tangible effect on how well a player performs at the plate, and being freed from that burden increases offensive output.
The depressed offensive performances from catchers aren’t simply about a weaker talent pool, but are also directly related to the physical toll of the effort required to play the position. If the Mariners decide to keep Montero behind the plate, they should expect a lower level of offensive performance than if they move him to DH.
The amount of the surge differs for each player that is moved to another position (some players can handle the load better than others before wearing down), but it is generally estimated to be in the +5 to +10 run per season range.
And yet, when this author compares Montero's minor league stats to other players', there is no effort whatsoever to adjust for the effect that catching had on Montero's hitting.
You've got to adjust Montero's minor league numbers by 1, maybe by 2 years. Montero's age-20 season should be compared to the age-19, or even age-18, seasons for first basemen.
Conversely, Pujols' age 20-21 seasons might very well be compared to those aged 22-23. We don't know how old he is, and the fact that he was mashing in the bigs at 21 makes Dr. D verrrrrrrry suspicious. Ken Griffey Jr. wasn't mashing at 21. Manny Ramirez was not. Barry Bonds was not.
Q. Montero's age-21 season wasn't so hot. He repeated AAA and was lackluster.
A. Maybe that had a little something to do with the fact that he hung his head all year. Jayson Stark's article hit the nail on the head:
But we've written in Rumblings before that there are teams out there that have been wary of Montero despite his undeniable talents. And what turned them off was their perception that he showed signs of "big league-itis" before he ever reached the big leagues.
"I'm just not sure about his makeup," said one scout who covers the Yankees' system. "I don't like that he looked bored, at 21, playing professional baseball in Triple-A. Yeah, he'd had some success. But he acted like he'd won five batting titles in the big leagues. … I will say, though, that I saw signs of growth in the last year. I thought Jorge Posada had an effect on him last year in spring training. So hopefully, he got the message. And hopefully, it was just immaturity."
In other words, the Yankee scouts bitterly resented Jesus Montero for his lack of humility. But the spirit is clear: Montero did not want to be in the minor leagues, did not see the point of it, and he wasted a lot of at-bats pouting.
Does this bother Dr. D? It reminds you of Jay Buhner. Jim Lefebvre gave Buhner a rough time, when Bone thought he should be in the lineup 160 games.
That worked out okay for Seattle fans. Buhner knew that he should be in there, and he hated the fact that he was being kept out of the lineup. Bone was a competitor and he didn't like being jerked around.
So Jesus Montero believes he is one of the 20 best hitters in the game, right now, and he doesn't like being frozen out when he should be helping somebody win a pennant. Dr. D is supposed to take that as a negative?
Gimme 25 players, check dat, gimme 17 players, with the swagger of a Jesus Montero, a Mike Carp, and a Dustin Ackley. I'll take that over Justin Smoak's aw-shucks-I'll-do-my-best-sir.
True, with the Yankees, you can afford a wry smile. Montero picks this ballclub to swagger into? Yowch. :- ) That's okay. Hold onto yer confidence, kid. Yer gonna need it.