Keith Law, Sal Fasano, FanGraphs On Travis d’Arnaud, Park Factors, Defense

An article by posted on December 22, 2012

FS Travis Darnaud

Keith Law of ESPN answered a couple of questions about the Mets new catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud during his weekly chat this week.

Q – Do you see Travis d’Arnaud continuing at catcher longterm, or do the Mets need to think of him in the outfield or first base (possibly trading or moving Ike Davis). If he can stay healthy and at catcher, the Dickey trade was a no-brainer for the Mets, but if not…

A – D’Arnaud is a catcher. He’s not Posey where the bat might play elsewhere and still make him a star.

Q – Do you agree that d’Arnaud is a “scouting” prospect, as some have recently suggested? I’ve seen his numbers from the hitter-friendly PCL, compared unfavorably to Gomes and Jeff Mathis.

A – You largely have to discard hitters’ park numbers (it’s not the PCL specifically, but certain parks, like Vegas and Albuquerque) for top position players and focus instead on performance at other levels and the scouting reports. The main problem is that non-prospects can rake there, but top prospects still face a ceiling on their overall stats. A natural .250 hitter might hit .320 in Albuquerque, but a natural .330 hitter won’t hit .400. I’ve seen d’Arnaud, and I believe he can hit and he’s coming into some power. He needs to play more than 88 games a year.

FanGraphs took the subject of park factors and d’Arnaud head on and wrote:

Self-proclaimed wet-blanket Mets fans are really worried about d’Arnaud’s statistics from his time in Las Vegas. You know how everyone dismisses statistics from the California League(CALL)? Well, the league OPS in the PCL was higher than the that of the CALL in 2012 and d’Arnaud’s home park, Cashman Field located in Las Vegas, favors right handed hitters by nearly 20%… If you were to use Greg Rybarczyk’s “Home Run Tracker” in Las Vegas you would assume that there would be a lot of “lucky” and “just enough” home runs hit that would not go out in other parks. Those home runs are going to inflate the offensive environment in Las Vegas. However, they should not detract from those hitting “No Doubt” home runs.

Of course, the follow up question is, “Is d’Arnaud hitting ‘No Doubt’ home runs?” And the retort is, “that’s why professional teams employ scouts.” Newman placed d’Arnaud’s home run total in the 18-25 range, my colleague Al Skorupa called it above average in our Mets Top 15 Prospect list which he later clarified to mean 15-20 home runs annually. When I watch d’Arnaud the first thing that stands out is his strange batting stance… If you’re hoping for Mike Piazza you’re going to be disappointed, but Al and Newman both present reasonable above average outcomes.

Sal Fasano, who managed d’Arnaud in 2011, believes he could be a 20-25 home run guy and eventually a good defender behind the plate.

“He’s really got a knack of blocking the plate. Just like any young kid, he just needs more time to hone those skills so he can become the good defender that I think he can be. Because we all know he can hit. Everybody with Toronto was always worried about his defense.”

How will d’Arnaud ultimately handle New York?

“I don’t think he’s a very boisterous guy,” Fasano said. “And I don’t think he’s a David Wright. That’s really tough to compare anybody to, because David is such a friendly face and he always looks so good in the media. Travis is a California kid, and sometimes he looks like he might not …” Fasano paused, then addressed d’Arnaud’s seemingly laid-back approach.

That was a problem Carlos Beltran often dealt with in New York. A player can sometimes make the most difficult plays so effortlessly that fans think they might be too soft and sometimes dogging it when in fact they’re not. The silent types are also frequently labeled as not being leaders.

As long as a player delivers and gives his best effort game in and game out, I couldn’t care less how boisterous or how quiet they are in the clubhouse.

Anyway, this post is really about that kick-ass GFX I designed last night… :-)

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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