I previously posed the question if a player can develop plate discipline at the minor league level to lay off bad pitches, does that translate into major league success? Let’s do a little rewind to see how a 12% walk rate translated over time, shall we?
Over the course of 502 plate appearances, a 12% walk rate (the minimum number of appearances needed to qualify for a MLB batting title) would yield 60 walks. 550 appearances – 66 walks. 600 plate appearances – 72 walks. 72 walks would place a batter into the top 25 of that particular category in the majors in 2013.
After hopping in my DeLorean, firing up the flux capacitor, and speeding up to 88 miles per hour, I found myself back in 2005. The faithful knew that this would be Mike Piazza’s last season in Queens. Pedro Martinez was throwing 200+ innings with an ERA under 3.00. Kris Benson would be traded in the offseason and along with him we were rid of the wild Anna. And there were 13 Mets prospects that walked at a 12% rate.
Why 2005? Because this upcoming season will be the 10th since that magical year. Surely that plate discipline produced many productive Major Leaguers, even if not outright superstars, right?
Survey says…. X
So who were these 12 percenters?
Jon Schemmel – 21.3% rate. Jon was a rookie in 2005 who signed as an undrafted free agent and spent that season in Rookie ball with Gulf Coast League Mets. He didn’t hit for power, but he hit for a high average that year to go along with his walks. While the sample size was small and he only appeared in 34 games, he hit .347 with 0 HR, 20 RBI, 5 doubles, 2 triples and 35 base hits to go with a sparkling .504 OBP. Jon played 4 seasons of professional ball in the Mets and Padres organization (2005-2008), reaching as high as AAA and played in 248 games, collecting 215 career hits, batting .272 with 3 HR and 83 RBI. His career OBP was .381 with a career walk rate of 12.1%.
Jon Malo – 19.0% rate. Jon was drafted twice by the Mets, first in the 40th round of the 2002 draft and again in the 48th round pick of the 2003 draft. He played for 7 years in the Mets (2005-2011) organization beginning in 2005 (yes, 2005), making it as high as AAA Buffalo. In 2005, Jon played with the Brooklyn Cyclones (A-) and the St. Lucie Mets (A+) batting .222 with 2 HR and 17 RBI in 51 games with 32 hits. With the Mets, he played in 639 games, hitting .233 with 26 HR and 195 RBI to go with 436 base hits. In his 7 seasons in the organization, he had a career walk rate of 7.3%. After 2011, Jon moved onto Indy ball where he played 2012-2013 with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League.
Ivan Naccarata – 17% rate. Ivan played two seasons in the Mets organization (2005-2006), reaching as high as the St. Lucie Mets. He briefly played in the Dodgers organization in 2007 before continuing his playing days in Indy ball with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League (2007, 2009-2012). Ivan played 2005 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, appearing in 55 games and batting .234 with 5 HR and 20 RBI. In 119 minor league games, Ivan hit .262 with 10 HR and 42 RBI. In an additional 259 games in the Indy Leagues, he hit .316 with 16 HR and 158 RBI.
Greg Cain – 16.4% rate. Greg was a 6th round pick of the Mets in 2005 and played two seasons in the organization, both with the Gulf Coast League Mets. In 58 career games, Greg hit .194 with 1 HR and 23 RBI. He had 35 professional hits to go with 36 professional walks and a 15.7% career walk rate.
Josh Thole – 15.4% rate. Ah… finally someone who made it to the Major Leagues. In 2005, Josh was in his rookie season with the Gulf Coast League Mets where he hit .269 with 1 HR and 12 RBI. Josh made it to the Mets in 2009 and has played 5 seasons in the majors (2009-2012 with the Mets, 2013 with the Blue Jays). In 353 career MLB games, Josh has hit .251 with 8 HR and 95 RBI with 260 hits. Josh’s walk rate in the majors has bee 9.0%.
Junior Contreras – 14.7%. Junior was an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic who spent 2005 with the Gulf Coast League Mets and played in 46 games, hitting .291 with 8 HR and 31 RBI. He spent 1 more year in professional ball and played 100 career games, batting .287 with 11 HR and 56 RBI to go with 100 professional hits.
Caleb Stewart – 14.0%. Caleb was picked by the Mets in the 22nd round of the 2004 MLB draft and played 8 professional seasons from 2004-2011 (6 seasons in the Mets organization, reaching as high as AAA, and two additional seasons in the Can-Am League with the Sussex Skyhawks and the Newark Bears. As a professional, he played in 644 games with a career batting average of .268 with 84 HR and 370 RBI.
Grant Psomas – 13.8% rate. Grant was a 15th round pick of the Mets in 2004 and spent the 2005 season with the Hagerstown Suns (A) and the St. Lucie Mets (A+). In 2005, he played in 133 games, batting .301 with 20 HR and 69 RBI with 141 hits, 77 walks and a .399 batting average. As a third baseman in the Mets organization that was stuck behind David Wright, he was expendable and after the 2005 season, he was traded to the Florida Marlins along with Yusmeiro Petit and Mike Jacobs in the trade that brought Carlos Delgado to Queens. He lasted in the Marlins system through 2008, reaching as high as AAA before playing one more season in the independent Frontier League with the Washington WildThings in 2009. In 6 professional seasons, Grant played in 592 games batting .258 with 79 HR, 306 RBI, 532 base hits, 137 doubles and 12 triples.
Yunir Garcia – 13.4% rate. Yunir was an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela that spent 5 seasons in the organization (2002-2006), reaching as high as AAA. The catcher spent 2005 with St. Lucie (A+) and Binghamton (AA). In 292 career games, he hit .200 with 20 HR and 91 RBI to go with 162 professional hits.
Jose Mateo – 13.1% rate. Jose was an undrafted free agent from the Dominican Republic that played two seasons in the organization (2005-2006) and never rose above Rookie ball. In 84 career games, he hit .262 with 8 HR and 36 RBI to go with 60 hits, 13 doubles, a career .372 OBP and a 13.4% career walk rate.
Matthew Spath – 12.9% rate. Matthew was a 12th round pick of the Mets that played two professional seasons in the Mets and Astros organizations, never rising above the Rookie level. In 71 career professional games, he hit .229 with 1 HR and 27 RBI and 50 professional hits.
Dante Brinkley – 12.6% rate. Dante was a 23rd round selection of the Mets in 2003 and spent 6 seasons in the Mets and Marlins organizations, reaching as high as AAA. After the 2005 season, Dante was traded to the Florida Marlins along with Gabriel Hernandez to complete the trade that brought Paul LoDuca to the Mets. In 579 career games, Dante hit .272 with 54 HR and 253 RBI to go with 529 professional hits.
Sean Henry – 12.3% rate. In 2005, Sean spent the season with the Kingsport Mets (Rookie) after being selected in the 20th round of the 2004 draft. Sean played 8 professional seasons in the Mets, Reds and Braves organizations before playing one more season in the Independent American Association, playing his last game in 2012. In 790 games over 9 seasons, he hit .283 with 62 HR and 378 RBI with 798 hits.
So there you have it. Unequivocal proof that a 12% walk rate isn’t an indicator that a player will have Major League success. The proof is in the pudding. Just ask Matthew Spath.