Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fun With Numbers: Matt Wieters vs Bengie Molina

After comparing Bengie Molina to Pablo Sandoval, I wanted to see how some of Molina's AA stats matched up against Matt Wieters, the #1 prospect in baseball. I was really shocked by the comparison, and it really left me scratching my head. Is Matt Wieters really the next Bengie Molina?

Here are each catchers numbers from AA.

Weird, huh? Of course, the sample sizes are sub-optimal, especially for Molina. But then again, anything over 200 plate appearances is large enough that you can't just completely dismiss it.

As I noted in the Sandoval vs Molina post, Molina bounced around between levels quite a bit in the minors, so it's hard to get a good read on how much of his production was talent and how much was luck. At the age of 21 he posted an OPS of .735 at AA, then went on to post an OPS of .956 and 1.003 at AA ball as a 22 and 23 year old respectively. I used his stats as a 21 year old in the Sandoval comparison since Sandoval played at AA as a 21 year old, and because that was the age at AA that Molina had the largest sample size.

In both the Molina vs Sandoval match-up and the Molina vs Wieters match-up we aren't really considering the whole picture, but it's just enough information that it creates a few problems with various solutions.

I think the most obvious thing to note here is that Molina had a career year during his time at AA at the age of 22 and 23, and for whatever reason he wasn't able to recreate the same level of production later is his career. It's possible that Sandoval also just went through a career year in 2008, and might plummet back down to his previous production level (.788 OPS at A+ in 2007), and it's possible that Wieters experienced a career year in 2008 as well.

There's something unsettling about the whole situation. My gut tells me that Wieters and Sandoval are both very much the real deal, and that Molina is the outlier in this situation, so I'll take that route for now, but I'll definitely keep this match-up in mind.

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