On Sunday, in the top of the second inning of a Spring Training game against the Houston Astros, Jamie Hoffmann hit a solo home run to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Hoffmann, who was starting the game in left field, is one of the handful of “throw up against a wall and hope it sticks” outfielders that the Mets have brought in to compete for a spot in the team’s outfield this season.
Terry Collins mentioned him in his first press conference of the year as someone who he was interested to get a look at. But who exactly is Jamie Hoffmann? More importantly, is he one of the guys who might actually stick to the wall?
Hoffman is a former Dodgers prospect who has been toiling in the Minor Leagues since 2006. He had a brief cup of coffee with Los Angeles in 2009 and 2011, but spent last season in the Baltimore Orioles system, playing for the Norfolk Tides (AAA). While his Minor League stats won’t “wow” anybody, Hoffmann did manage to hit 11 home runs in 110 games last year. Though he hit only .254, his on-base percentage was a respectable .347. Also, Hoffmann posted a .341 wOBA (Weighted On Base Average) and 111 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created per plate appearance), according to Fangraphs.
In 2011, while playing for AAA Albuquerque (Dodgers), Hoffmann slugged 22 home runs in 133 games, while batting .295 with an .850 OPS, .367 wOBA, and 107 wRC+ (also according to Fangraphs). These numbers were posted in the Pacific Coast League and are most likely inflated, but there are signs there that he can be a productive bottom of the order power bat.
At 28, he’s too old to be considered a prospect anymore, but that’s not to say he can’t make it as a big leaguer. The Dodgers had another player in their farm system who just got his first last year: 31-year-old A.J. Ellis. All Ellis did was post a .373 OBP, .341 wOBA and 118 wRC+ in 130 games, good for a 4.1 WAR (Again, from Fangraphs).
While he may not be the answer everybody is expecting. He should have a good chance to open some eyes this spring. Not only do the Mets need outfielders, they need right-handed hitting power hitters, which is what Hoffmann is. One thing is for sure, he is going to get an opportunity.