MiLB Thoughts: Johermyn Chavez
There seems to be a lot of animosity going around here on the blog and nothing clears all the hard feelings like talking and disputing prospects, right? Cool so let’s talk about Johermyn Chavez.
Chavez is really having a tough year currently posting a wOBA of .298. Coming into the season it was wildly believed that Chavez was coming off a break out season in the ever confusing often foggy (statistically speaking) High Desert of Adelanto, California. Many players leave the California league with “suggested” breakout performances but due to it’s location and park factors it’s hard to take all such break out claims seriously.
But, Chavez was coming off a season in which he dropped his strike outs and improved his base on balls and posted a wRC+ of 143, tied for second overall in the league (a long with fellow team mate Rich Poythress).
We all now know of course as Keith recently talked about wRC+ is park adjusted however the amount of adjustments to the league and specifically the park can be disputed. That said it’s still one of the best stats to go with when comparing a players to the rest of the league and keeping everything within context.
It’s enough to say that regardless of the park effects Chavez had a good season and while making the jump into AA is always a challenge –it’s often said that single A to AA is the largest talent difference in all of baseball– you still had high hopes that Chavez would build upon his season in High Desert.
Obviously this isn’t the case and people are left wondering why, why has he struggled so much and what exactly does he need to do to get out of it? Well just speaking from my first hand experience with Chavez he has changed his batting stance on three different occasions this season his swings were also noticeably different and I have to think there are some still issues with his mechanics.
But, that said there are some interesting stats to take away.
Looking at the stats you can see a visible step back in just about every category, ranging from “luck” to consistency in contact as he is striking out by swinging and missing more. The one exception is how often he’s hitting hard line drives. As we mentioned his swings and misses seem to happen more often but when he does make contact he’s obviously doing a better job of driving the ball.
Whenever I see a solid line drive rate it always makes me skeptical of the BABIP. It’s when I like to turn to xBABIP and see what it should be. This is when an unusual occurrence caught my eye. xBABIP requires all batted ball data to include infield pop ups. In which Chavez has twice the league average.
That means out of all the balls that are hit into the air nearly 1/3 of them stay in the infield. That’s not normal.
His xBABIP is only .273 and would only marginally move his wRC+ slightly north of 80 which is still far a below average season. But let’s have some fun with the stats available. Regressing Chavez infield fly to league average you will see his xBABIP is now .299. Now if you want to put those attribute all those balls that were put in play to another category we could say they should be in the fly ball data which would bring the xBABIP to .297.
|Does Hit||Should Hit||BB%||K%||HR||PA||Present BABIP||Expected BABIP|
Using my new favorite stat ShH you will see that the utility sees him currently as an 82 wRC+ hitter. This is a rough value but you see by regressing his infield flies it sees him as nearly a league average hitter.
I know it’s not as simple as that he just needs not to hit infield flies. Obviously if it was most likely we wouldn’t be talking about it. What it does point out is a couple of things.
A) if he can correct this problem he most likely floats into the discussion of being a league average hitter. We don’t know that for certain but the number indicate that.
B) That there is some problems with his mechanics in which he is getting under a lot of pitches and not making enough solid contact with them.
I’m not writing off Chavez in any respect. He’s had a rough year adapting to a tough league. It happens. He still is an interesting defender with perhaps the best arm in all of the Mariners minor league system. So there are certainly some positives still with his game. He has plenty of power potential and while it’s not consistently apart of a game it’s game changing power.
At this point I would think that he repeats this level next year. He’s only 22 and hitting in a league in which the average pitcher age is 24.1. He has time and while we would all love to see him succeed now it doesn’t mean he won’t succeed later.