Friday, January 25, 2013

Ten Best Offensive Players of 2012

by John Vittas


 10. Zach Lutz, INF

In his second full season in AAA, the 5th rounder out of Alvernia proved he could handle any challenge the Minor Leagues might present. He finished the season one point shy of a .300 campaign, with a .410 OBP and a slugging percentage a shade under .500.

Lutz has some of the best plate discipline in the organization and has the power to boot, posting home run and walk rates that ranked top ten in the organization. However, he has two major problems. One: the injury bug. Lutz has yet to play a full season in his professional career and missed half the season in 2012. Two: the organization he belongs to.  Lutz plays corner infield, the two positions the Mets are most secure with at the Major League level.

His .321 average against lefties could land him a Major League platoon job at the very least. But unfortunately, that opportunity may have to come with another team.  

Zach Lutz

9. Cory Vaughn

It took him nearly two years to figure out the Florida State League, but Cory Vaughn had a productive, healthy season in 2012. His final totals rank top-10 in the organization in ten offensive categories, including home run rate, walks and stolen base rate.

Vaughn possesses Major League power and has tremendous plate discipline, which is why you can find him on several prospect lists. But his .243 batting average is why he’s rarely at the top of those lists.

If he can get more consistent with his swing and learn how to limit his slumps, Vaughn has all the tools to be a legit Major League corner outfielder.

Top 10 in org. in HR, RBI, BB, R, TB, SLG, SB, XBH%, SB rate, and HR%
Top 10 in Ks

8. Phillip Evans

It had been a full calendar year since Phillip Evans had played in a real game when he debuted in the New York-Penn League in 2012, but he showed no signs of rust, batting .280 in his first month and playing every day at shortstop for Class A Brooklyn.

Evans spent that year training in Port St. Lucie after being drafted in the 15th round out of La Costa Canyon High School in California.

He showed a great eye, drawing 31 walks and stroked five home runs, which is a good number for a 5-foot-10-inch 19-year-old in just 73 games. But the most impressive numbers in Evans’ first season, was that he struck out in only 10% of his at bats, which ranks third best in the entire Mets organization. Keep in mind Evans was only 19 and playing in a league where he should be outclassed by former college stars.

Phillip has bulked up since going pro and has shown an above-average glove at shortstop. He had more at bats than any other short-season player (294). With that amount of early exposure and a positive response at such a young age, Evans could be well ahead of schedule.

Led Short Season players in G, H and ABs
Top 10 in Short Season HR, RBIs, BBs, R and TB

Phillip Evans

7. Matt Den Dekker, CF

It was the tale of two seasons for the former Florida Gators centerfielder, but when you put it all together, 2012 was still a very productive year for Matt den Dekker.

He led the organization in triples and stroked 56 extra-base-hits. That’s a very strong number for any baseball player, and when you combine that with his jaw-dropping defense, den Dekker still has to be considered a prospect.

His Double-A numbers were spectacular: .340/.397/.563, with eight home runs in 58 games. But after the June promotion to Buffalo, den Dekker struggled mightily. He batted just .197 in his first two months in Triple-A.

The good news for Matt is that he’s shown steady offensive improvement at every stop along his career. He got that .197 clip up to .248 in August and finished comfortably over the Mendoza line.

If he keeps improving, he could be a factor in Flushing soon. But with a .220 average in Triple-A, you may be wondering how den Dekker finds his way onto this list.

The reason is that his overall output was very productive.

He was top ten in the organization in triples, homers, RBIs, doubles, runs, total bases, stolen base rate, stolen bases and slugging percentage.

Led organization in strikeouts and had low BB rate (6.0%)
Top ten in hits, HRs, RBIs, 2B, Runs, TB, SB rate, SBs, and SLG

6. Daniel Murphy

There’s not much to say about Daniel Murphy. They guy can hit, that’s all there is to it. Murphy’s .291 average is right on-par with his career average of .292.

I don’t know how he does it, his swing appears long and loopy and can fall victim to some pretty bad slumps, but for the most part, Murph finds ways to shoot singles and doubles all around the ballpark.

The big concern with Murphy in 2012 was his lack of power, only connecting on six home runs, and not getting his first until June. But in reality, he is a prototypical number two hitter and still managed to drive in 65 runs and stroked forty doubles. So the production is still there and I’m not complaining.

Daniel has been nothing short of a blessing through these tough years, and will man second base again this season. It seems the Jacksonville native has found a home there after seemingly not having a position for so many years.

Led organization in games played and was 2nd in doubles
Top 10 in organization in SO% (13.5%), H, ABs, AVG, RBIs and TB

Daniel Murphy

5. T.J. Rivera

TJ Rivera was never drafted, and he’s starting to prove to every Major League team that they made a mistake in passing him up.

Rivera came out of nowhere to have an outrageous season with the bat in 2012. The former Troy University star finished in the top 10 in the organization in hits, at bats, RBIs, doubles, triples, runs scored, total bases, OBP, OPS and SO%. That’s 10 categories.

His final line was .320/.369/.444, proving he can produce at a high level for a full season. Rivera wasn’t phased after his promotion to High-A St. Lucie either, hitting at a .306 clip in his FSL debut.

After 64 games and 255 at bats with St. Lucie, it’ll be interesting to see if the Mets think that was enough to start Rivera in Binghamton.

4. Brandon Nimmo

At first glance, Nimmo’s basic stats may seem like nothing special: .248 with 6 HRs and 40 RBIs. But if you look at his extended numbers, compare it to the rest of the league and consider that he’s 19-years-old facing pitchers that are two or three years older than him, Nimmo was much more productive than it seems.

The blue-chip prospect from Wyoming led all Mets short-season hitters in RBIs, walks, doubles runs and total bases. He also was top ten in the entire organization in OBP and walk rate.

If you extrapolate Nimmo’s numbers to a full MLB season, he would have hit about 15 HRs, 100 RBIs, 50 doubles, and drawn about 115 walks, which would have easily led the Majors.

Again, Nimmo is 19, projectable and has great athletic ability. Combine that to his numbers and positive, humble attitude, and the Mets possess a very promising outfield prospect.

Led SS affiliates in RBI, BB, 2B, Runs and TB
Top 5 in SS in G, H, AB, HR
Top 10 in org. in OBP and BB rate (14.7%)

Brandon Nimmo

3. Wilmer Flores

It was a great first year in the upper-levels for infield prospect Wilmer Flores. After his first lackluster season in 2011, Flores bounced back with a .300 average and 18 home runs in 2012.

More importantly, he proved he can hit AA pitching, posting a slash line of .289/.336/.463 in his first try in Binghamton.

He finished in the top-10 in the organization in almost every category, most importantly in home run rate, SO% and slugging. He rarely strikes out, draws many walks and can still hit for immense power. Very few players offer all three of those characteristics in one package.

Flores’ defense is still a work-in-progress as he transitions away from shortstop. However, he isn’t a terrible defender and could probably play another infield position adequately.

The upside to Flores is tremendous, as he is the only potential impact bat that could arrive in Flushing in the near future.

He has tremendous hands and terrific natural strength. At just 21-years-old, Flores continues to fill out and display the tools that makes him a pure and natural hitter.

Top 10 in organization in G, H, ABs, AVG, HR, RBI, 2B, TB, SLG (.479), OPS, SO% (11.3) and HR%

Wilmer Flores

2. Ike Davis

Despite Ike’s horrific .170 average through the first two months of the season, he somehow managed to become the second most productive hitter the Mets owned in 2012.

He finished his first full Major League season with 32 home runs and 90 RBIs. No other Met has hit 30 home runs since Carlos Delgado in 2008. You may not be surprised to find out that Davis also led the organization in both homers and home run rate.

As you also might expect, Ike did most of his damage away from Citi Field, with 21 of his 32 dingers coming on the road.

Excluding April and March, Davis hit over .250 with 27 homers and 69 RBI. That’s in four months. If Ike can figure out lefties (he batted .174 against them) and stay on that slugging pace, he can be one of the best perennial power hitters in the game.

Biggest power threat in organization (6.2% HR rate)
Also led org. in HRs with 32
Top 10 in XBH%, SLG, ABs, RBIs, BB, TB

Ike Davis

1. David Wright

I know what you’re thinking. Without any thought or analysis, I automatically just plugged Default David smack into the number one spot.

But I didn’t. After further review, he flat out deserves this spot, not just because he’s David Wright, but because his numbers back up the fact that he’s the most productive hitter in the system.

He led all Mets hitters in hits, walks, doubles, runs and total bases, and finished top-4 in home runs and top-10 in OBP, OPS and extra base hit percentage.

When the Mets were relevant through the first four months, David was batting .330 with 15 dingers and an RBI pace well over 100.

But when Wright slowed down, so did the team, which further exemplifies his value to the organization. And when you factor in everything else he provides, Wright belongs in the #1 slot in just about every subjective category.

Led organization in G, H, ABs, RBIs, BBs, 2Bs, R and TB
Top 10 in org. in AVG, HR, SLG, SB, OBP, OPS, XBH%

David Wright

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