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  #1  
Old 09-26-2018, 11:28 AM
Frater Perdurabo Frater Perdurabo is online now
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Default Zack Collins and Implications of Minor League HR Park Factors

I've been thinking about Zack Collins mildly disappointing performance at Birmingham.


But then I recalled that Birmingham is said to be a stadium where it's more difficult to hit home runs. Sure enough, its 2016 (most recent that I could find) HR park factor was .877. By comparison, Charlotte's 2016 HR park factor was 1.388. While Charlotte is not the most HR friendly AAA ballpark, and Birmingham is not the most HR unfriendly ballpark, the difference of .511 is huge.



Without the benefit of advanced statistical modeling regression analysis or spray charts superimposed over scale stadium layouts, I simply started with Collins' 2018 statistics, specifically:


531 PA: 418 ABs, 101 walks, 3 HBP, 2 SH, 7 SF

98 hits: 58 singles, 24 doubles, 1 triple, 15 HR = .234 AVG.

.404 SLG, .382 OBP = .786 OPS



Here's my question: What if simply moving from Birmingham to Charlotte caused five of Collins' deep flyouts to become home runs, and three of his doubles to become home runs, with no change in his walk or strikeout rates?


Here's the results:


531 PA: 418 ABs, 101 walks, 3 HBP, 2 SH, 7 SF (same as before)

103 hits: 58 singles, 21 doubles, 1 triple, 23 HR = .246 AVG.
.466 SLG, .390 OBP = .856 OPS

Now, this is just a thought experiment. Clearly factors for which we cannot control - wind, injuries, pitches and pitchers, opposing fielder quality and positioning, lineup construction, Collins' own adjustments, etc. - make this nothing more than a hypothetical.


But it does raise another interesting question. How would we feel about Collins if his walk, strikeout, and flyball/groundball/line drive rates were exactly the same as they are now, but he was producing a .856 OPS?

And it raises yet another interesting question: When evaluating Sox power hitting prospects matriculating through the system, is it appropriate to be a bit more forgiving/patient toward the power hitter who doesn't hit as many HRs as we'd like in Birmingham?
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:09 PM
Mohoney Mohoney is offline
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First off, this is an excellent thread, Frater. I hope available minor league stats get better in future years so we can better explore ideas like this.

Think about it this way: Would we feel better about Collins if some major publication like Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus spun that hypothetical .856 OPS by pointing out that such a mark would have led the Southern League? Even if we mentioned that Collins's actual .786 OPS was good for eighth in the league, would it make the situation sound much better?
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Old 09-26-2018, 03:40 PM
guillensdisciple guillensdisciple is offline
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I think Collins will still be an above average catcher mostly because he seems to be developing defensively and it's a position where any production offensively is a bonus.
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Old 09-26-2018, 09:49 PM
mzh mzh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guillensdisciple View Post
I think Collins will still be an above average catcher mostly because he seems to be developing defensively and it's a position where any production offensively is a bonus.
This. I don't think people realize how low the offensive bar really is for catchers. By almost all offensive numbers, Omar Narvaez has been one of the best 5 or 6 catchers in all of baseball this season. Not in the league, in the entirety of MLB. Not to diss Omar or anything, but that tells you a lot more about MLB catchers than it does about him.

Even if Collins only hits in the big leagues like he did in AA this year--which we considered to be pretty disappointing--he'd still probably be one of the top 10-12 catchers in baseball as long as he's not a total disaster on the defensive end.

Personally, I think he'll be okay. On the surface it's nothing special but catchers who can draw 100 walks and hit 20 homers aren't exactly dime a dozen, even if he never hits about .240.

Last edited by mzh; 09-26-2018 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:28 AM
blurry blurry is offline
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I just want a catcher who calls a good game, can frame effectively, has the ability to block the plate, and can throw runners out, all the while not being a black hole on offense.
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:04 PM
Hitmen77 Hitmen77 is offline
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Interesting discussion and good analysis. Personally, I don't know what to think of Collins's outlook and what to make of his numbers this year. His average, outside of one hot month has been lousy. But, he's got good power numbers and draws a lot of walks. Ultimately it'll come down to whether his catching skills are acceptable at the major league level.....


Quote:
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I just want a catcher who calls a good game, can frame effectively, has the ability to block the plate, and can throw runners out, all the while not being a black hole on offense.
Yep, if (and that's a big IF) he can become a decent catcher defensively then hitting ~.235 with a high OBP and high slugging pct should be good enough to have him as a starting catcher on a playoff-contending MLB team.

But, his defense has always been suspect. There's still a lot of doubt whether he can stick as a catcher despite vague comments from Sox coaches that he's making progress. If he can't stick at C, then he's not very valuable to this organization.

Last edited by Hitmen77; 09-27-2018 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:49 PM
Frater Perdurabo Frater Perdurabo is online now
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I'd keep Collins at Birmingham to start 2019, and keep him there so that he can continue to work on his defensive skills.


I would base any decisions to promote Collins strictly on the extent to which he improves his defense, understanding that an eventual promotion out of Birmingham's HR-suppressing park should result in an increase in home runs at Charlotte (with attendant SLG and OPS increases).


I'd like to see Collins get the majority of the starts at catcher in Birmingham, with Adolfo as the primary DH. (Rutherford, Basabe and Gonzalez also can get occasional DH starts as Adolfo transitions back into fielding after his Tommy John surgery, and Call and Booker move to the Charlotte outfield.) When Collins is not catching, he should be out in the bullpen, catching Barons relievers during the warmups and side days to continue to improve his defense and pitch calling skills.
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