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Luke-OH

2019 #19 Prospect Ryan McKenna - CF

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I think this is about right for the guy. He shocked us two springs ago and certainly replaces Joey Rickard in the organization at this point. Let's see if he can hit in St. Petersburg. 

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I keep wondering if he changed his swing on his own or if he was told by the coaches to try to hit for more power.  I think anyone reading OH or other baseball writings over the last few years would believe that the only way to be a starter in the majors is to hit for power.  That attitude finally began changing on OH within the last year, but most people still seem to be stuck on wanting a leadoff hitter who adds 20+ home runs.  Did McKenna think he had to change?

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Am I just way off about Pop? Other than the chance he doesn't come back strong from TJS (low) isn't he basically a major league ready setup man at worst? Isn't that better to have in your organization than a 4th outfielder or a swingman?

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39 minutes ago, Pheasants said:

I keep wondering if he changed his swing on his own or if he was told by the coaches to try to hit for more power.  I think anyone reading OH or other baseball writings over the last few years would believe that the only way to be a starter in the majors is to hit for power.  That attitude finally began changing on OH within the last year, but most people still seem to be stuck on wanting a leadoff hitter who adds 20+ home runs.  Did McKenna think he had to change?

It's based on truth. 71 of 86 position players worth 2+ WAR in 2019 hit 20+ home runs. The 15 who didn't had a median K% of 17.6. McKenna has a minor league career K% of 21.4. He gets a lot of his value from taking plenty of walks, having a 10.1% BB rate in his MiLB career. Without power, that very likely diminishes, perhaps significantly. So yeah, there is a high bar of bat control and defensive value you need to be an everyday player if you don't have game power. He checks the defensive box, but not the bat control. It's much much harder to be a productive major league position player if you don't put the ball over the fence. It's not the only way, but it's surely the most likely way. 

edit: cutting out the WAR part, just looking at hitting, of the 94 players (batting title qualified) with above average batting (by wRC+) 82 of them had 20+ HRs. 

As far as whether he changed the swing on his own, I'm not sure, but he's changed his swing on his own multiple times in the past. 

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19 minutes ago, ChosenOne21 said:

Am I just way off about Pop? Other than the chance he doesn't come back strong from TJS (low) isn't he basically a major league ready setup man at worst? Isn't that better to have in your organization than a 4th outfielder or a swingman?

There is a chance that Zimmermann stick in the rotation and a chance McKenna ends up a regular. They are ceiling or near ceiling outcomes, but they aren't outlandish and both have a high probability of MLB usefulness. I like Pop and yes, TJS has a good recovery rate, but it's something like 15-20% don't get velocity back and probably a bit more don't get command all the way back. I think that's enough risk to justify where he ended up in our process. 

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8 minutes ago, Luke-OH said:

There is a chance that Zimmermann stick in the rotation and a chance McKenna ends up a regular. They are ceiling or near ceiling outcomes, but they aren't outlandish and both have a high probability of MLB usefulness. I like Pop and yes, TJS has a good recovery rate, but it's something like 15-20% don't get velocity back and probably a bit more don't get command all the way back. I think that's enough risk to justify where he ended up in our process. 

And when you add in his unique delivery style, his risk factors go up in my opinion. 

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Just now, Tony-OH said:

And when you add in his unique delivery style, his risk factors go up in my opinion. 

Yeah, it one of the situations where the arm action helps the effectiveness of his pitches but might not be the best for his long term arm health. Lowther fits in the same category, but in a more subtle way. 

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53 minutes ago, Pheasants said:

I keep wondering if he changed his swing on his own or if he was told by the coaches to try to hit for more power.  I think anyone reading OH or other baseball writings over the last few years would believe that the only way to be a starter in the majors is to hit for power.  That attitude finally began changing on OH within the last year, but most people still seem to be stuck on wanting a leadoff hitter who adds 20+ home runs.  Did McKenna think he had to change?

Yes, this is correct. This is the game now. 

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54 minutes ago, Pheasants said:

 That attitude finally began changing on OH within the last year, but most people still seem to be stuck on wanting a leadoff hitter who adds 20+ home runs. 

What makes you say that? The folks here are enlightened and do realize the facts of being one of the 850 MLB players. 

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MLB Pipeline named him our best athlete.

I understand the ranking here, I would probably put him a little higher because I think a starting CF ceiling is more valuable than a 4th-5th starter ceiling, and I think his floor is probably Joey Rickard which is higher than some of the pitchers just ahead of him whose floor is middle-relief or being an up-down reliever/spot starter (or having an injury and not reaching the Majors at all).

Huge year coming up for him, one of the players I am most looking forward to following. He has now played 195 games at AA and is not yet old for the level, hopefully he comes out strong in the spring and is assigned to AAA. If they are going to have the MLB ball at AA I wouldn't mind him being held back, he definitely didn't force the promotion last year. Though I would rather see him than a Jace Peterson or Mason Williams type at AAA if he looks like he can potentially handle the level. 

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Regarding the requirement for power, isn’t on base percentage more important, especially for a leadoff guy? Markakis was never a big homer guy, nor was Nate Mclouth.(I remember a Camden depot article in 2013 or so, Where Jon Shepard said that once Mclouth abandoned his attempt to hit homers all the time, and instead was hitting doubles, he became more valuable.)  They were both outstanding leadoff guys, and Markakis is still plugging along eight years later.

What am I missing?

 

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28 minutes ago, Philip said:

Regarding the requirement for power, isn’t on base percentage more important, especially for a leadoff guy? Markakis was never a big homer guy, nor was Nate Mclouth.(I remember a Camden depot article in 2013 or so, Where Jon Shepard said that once Mclouth abandoned his attempt to hit homers all the time, and instead was hitting doubles, he became more valuable.)  They were both outstanding leadoff guys, and Markakis is still plugging along eight years later.

What am I missing?

On base percentage is very important, but there are two main ways to have a good on base percentage that are sustainable and one lesser, more volatile way. 

The main two ways are by 

1. Taking a lot of walks

2. Making a lot of contact 

The third way is maintaining a higher than average BABIP, which is a product to some degree of the type of contact one makes. Let's disregard this part for now since it's pretty wonky and there is plenty of debate over how much control a hitter has over their BABIP.

So here's the relationship between ISO (isolated slugging, a good indication of game power) and BB rate in the majors in 2019. As you can see as ISO increases (x axis) the trend is that BB rate (y axis) also increases. Why is this happening? Well it's because MLB pitchers are very good and throw more strikes to hitters that don't have power. That's why a guy like Joey Rickard walked 12.7% of the time in the minors, but only 6.1% of the time in the majors. 

image.png.55e2ac15940241120f630bfb56a3bf09.png

It's hard to have a high on base percentage without having average or better power. It's possible but tough.

The guys that can do it are the exception, not the rule. Even the guys you mentioned, both of their best years were their two seasons with 20+ HRs. And they made more contact than a guy like McKenna does. So like I said in the profile, he needs to figure out how to make the power stroke work or shift back to his line drive swing but shift his approach in order to decrease strikeouts, increase contact. Because if he doesn't have the power, the walks are going to go away, so the other way to increase on base percentage is to increase contact. He could do that by trying to shorten ABs, be more aggressive and not let himself get to 2 strike counts as often. 

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5 minutes ago, Luke-OH said:

On base percentage is very important, but there are two main ways to have a good on base percentage that are sustainable and one lesser, more volatile way. 

The main two ways are by 

1. Taking a lot of walks

2. Making a lot of contact 

The third way is maintaining a higher than average BABIP, which is a product to some degree of the type of contact one makes. Let's disregard this part for now since it's pretty wonky and there is plenty of debate over how much control a hitter has over their BABIP.

So here's the relationship between ISO (isolated slugging, a good indication of game power) and BB rate in the majors in 2019. As you can see as ISO increases (x axis) the trend is that BB rate also increases. Why is this happening? Well it's because MLB pitchers are very good and throw more strikes to hitters that don't have power. That's why a guy like Joey Rickard walked 12.7% of the time in the minors, but only 6.1% of the time in the majors. 

image.png.55e2ac15940241120f630bfb56a3bf09.png

It's hard to have a high on base percentage without having average or better power. It's possible but tough.

The guys that can do it are the exception, not the rule. Even the guys you mentioned, both of their best years were their two seasons with 20+ HRs. And they made more contact than a guy like McKenna does. So like I said in the profile, he needs to figure out how to make the power stroke work or shift back to his line drive swing but shift his approach in order to decrease strikeouts, increase contact. Because if he doesn't have the power, the walks are going to go away, so the other way to increase on base percentage is to increase contact. He could do that by trying to shorten ABs, be more aggressive and not let himself get to 2 strike counts as often. 

 Luke, thank you very much for that answer, it answers my query completely. In a nutshell, to have a high on base percentage means you have to have either a superlative eye, Or you have to have enough power to crush a mistake when the pitcher challenges you. If you don’t have any power, the pitcher won’t be afraid to throw strikes, because it’s unlikely that you will punish a mistake right?

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Just now, Philip said:

 Luke, thank you very much for that answer, it answers my query completely. In a nutshell, to have a high on base percentage means you have to have either a superlative eye, Or you have to have enough power to crush a mistake when the pitcher challenges you. If you don’t have any power, the pitcher won’t be afraid to throw strikes, because it’s unlikely that you will punish a mistake right?

You have to have enough power for pitchers to be afraid to miss in the middle of the plate. Or you have to have superlative bat control. That's how I'd phrase it. 

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