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 Post subject: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:33 am 
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Wow...DK dropped a bombshell in the newest Q & A and it makes complete sense...

Q: Dejan, remember Chad Hermansen? It seems Neil Walker fits the same mold, with loads of potential not being fulfilled. Too bad he's not major-league ready. Third base seems to be opening up sooner than expected.

What's the team's brass thinking?

Len Metzler of Pittsfield, PA

KOVACEVIC: Actually -- and this is going to sound kind of mean -- but it is unfair to Hermansen to make such a comparison. Hermansen at least had his breakout year in the minors before fizzling badly in the majors. Where is Walker's breakout year?

I wrote a piece about Walker back in spring training that some readers and others took as being too negative, but 60 percent of what most did not like about it came right from the mouths of the Pirates' new management, and the other 40 percent were cold, hard numbers.

And here we are again with Walker batting .213 six weeks into the season -- albeit with decent power in six home runs, including a grand slam last night, and a good RBI total of 25 -- along with a .258 on-base percentage, thanks to just nine walks in roughly 170 plate appearances. That is nowhere near enough, most would agree, to validate this elite-prospect label he has carried from the moment he was drafted. Especially when that label was earned almost entirely on his offensive potential. Especially when that breakout year has yet to materialize.

That said, Walker is 22, which is young for Class AAA, and plenty of folks inside and outside the organization continue to believe not only that he will hit for average but also for power from both sides.


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08142/883422-126.stm

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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:53 am 
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Hmmm. Accurate points all around. But it is hard to be too critical of Walker. If he were in college, he would be finishing his senior season and would start at high A ball later this year. Instead, he is in AAA, despite missing 50 games last year.

So, wait to see what he does the rest of this year and even next season, when he will be all of 23 years old. And I disagree with DK regarding Hermansen. Chad fanned about 25% of his plate appearances in the low minors and that stat did not improve as he advanced. All together, he fanned 988 times in 4120 plate appearances - i.e., 24% of the time.

For comparison, Adam Dunn fanned 270 times in 1430 minor league plate appearances, or less than 19% of the time.

Hitters who whiff on 25% of minor league plate appearances usually have significant trouble hitting in the majors. Ryan Howard is a rare exception. Brad Eldred and Chad Hermansen are the norm.

Neil Walker does not fan nearly as much as Hermansen. So far, Walker has K'ed 275 times in about 1800 plate appearances, or approximately 15% of the time. He makes contact far more often that did Hermansen, so he is not going to suffer the same hitting problems that Hermansen had.

At least I hope so . . .


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:03 am 
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Ryan Howard WAS an exception, but I think we're seeing that anything slightly off with him and pitchers can get him out.

I still think Walker will turn into a decent major leaguer, though he is not the savior the club needs. He's athletic and has a decent batting eye. .280 with 20 HR a season isn't awful, but I'm beginning to lose my hope in him as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 11:46 am 
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chetthespian wrote:
Ryan Howard WAS an exception, but I think we're seeing that anything slightly off with him and pitchers can get him out.


True, and I get your point. I agree to a large extent, but Howard has already put up some monster seasons. Guys who fan at that rate in the minors almost never turn out to be that productive in the majors.

chetthespian wrote:
I still think Walker will turn into a decent major leaguer . . . but I'm beginning to lose my hope in him as well.


Wow . . . Bucfan as a voice of patience. What is this board coming to?


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 12:43 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
chetthespian wrote:
Ryan Howard WAS an exception, but I think we're seeing that anything slightly off with him and pitchers can get him out.


True, and I get your point. I agree to a large extent, but Howard has already put up some monster seasons. Guys who fan at that rate in the minors almost never turn out to be that productive in the majors.

chetthespian wrote:
I still think Walker will turn into a decent major leaguer . . . but I'm beginning to lose my hope in him as well.


Wow . . . Bucfan as a voice of patience. What is this board coming to?


Everything Dejan said is true.

Maybe his struggles are due to his youth, or maybe he is a bust.

I certainly hope he develops into everything we hope he can be but, as Pirates fans, we have to understand that both are possibilities.


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 6:04 pm 
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Mayor Mystery wrote:
Everything Dejan said is true.

Maybe his struggles are due to his youth, or maybe he is a bust.

I certainly hope he develops into everything we hope he can be but, as Pirates fans, we have to understand that both are possibilities.


I think that we are effected by guys like Upton, or H. Ramirez, or Pujols, etc.

The simple fact is that very, very, very rarely does a 22-year old make the major league team and start, let alone play exceedingly well and hit a ton.

Walker is 22. Not 25, 22. He is the same age as a bunch of college seniors who are being pimped as great talents. The difference is, Walker has been hitting with a wood bat for four seasons.

He is hitting well the past couple of weeks. For example, in his last 35 AB's, he has 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR's and 7 RBI's, with a slugging percentage of .543. That works out to something like 30 doubles, 15 triples, 30 HR's and 100 RBI's over a full season.

I am as impatient as the next guy. But could we at least give Walker another 2 years before we start hitting the panic button????


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 6:07 pm 
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So you are saying he is the minor league equivalent to LaRoche (sloooow starter...numbers will follow)?


;)

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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 6:31 pm 
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IA Pirate wrote:
So you are saying he is the minor league equivalent to LaRoche (sloooow starter...numbers will follow)?


;)


If Laroche was 22 and hitting like this, and had not shat the bed in the same manner the prior year, then I definitely would not be so tough on him.

But he is a veteran player, 28 years old, with nearly 2000 at bats, playing a premium offensive position, for a team which cannot afford to watch him swat flies for 2 months.

Walker's slow start has to do with the fact that he is 22 and is playing AAA, a level higher than the year before. To my knowledge, Laroche did not move up one level . . .


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:01 pm 
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I am in no way hitting the panic button. Like you said, the kid is 22. He's still developing so he could end up big-time star.

I'm just asking people be realistic. It's just as possible he ends up flopping. It happens with prospects all the time. Just keep in mind that this is a possibility so you don't have unrealistic expectations for him or any minor league prospect simply because of where he was drafted.


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:50 pm 
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This kid was drafted as a catcher and his numbers would project there much better than at third base. My biggest problem with the drafting of Walker is that I feel like the Pirates put too big of a premium on him being a local kid. It made for a great story. I personally have thought since day one that he has been over valued. As DK said he hasn't had one break out year yet in the minors. His numbers have been solid, but certainly not spectacular.

Bucfan, I hear what you are saying about patience and I agree. However something tells me that he is going to turn in to a more athletic version of Bautista, with less glove. For that reason I am leaning towards hoping the Pirates draft Alvarez, although it sounds like they may be "bending" towards Beckham(yea, that's a bad joke I know). Alvarez would be ready sooner and take the sting away if Walker doesn't cut it. And if he does, Alvarez can move to first and replace Mr. Middle of May. Although nobody could argue that we could use a big time SS prospect in the organization.


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 Post subject: Re: Hermansen vs Walker
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 8:05 pm 
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Just think, if we'd have not dealt Benson to New York and a deal with Philly would have gone down, like some of our prior posts said...

We'd have Howard at 1st and Keppinger would be at 3rd or maybe 2nd with Freddy staying at 3rd...

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