What To Expect From Desmond Jennings in 2011 | The Process Report

What To Expect From Desmond Jennings in 2011

Player Name	Age	PA	BA	OBP	SLG
Cameron  Maybin	23	322	0.234	0.302	0.361
Jason  Heyward	20	623	0.277	0.393	0.456
Colby  Rasmus	22	520	0.251	0.307	0.407
Travis  Snider	21	276	0.241	0.328	0.419
L. Milledge	23	587	0.268	0.33	0.402
Jay  Bruce	21	452	0.254	0.314	0.453
Justin  Upton	20	417	0.25	0.353	0.463
Delmon  Young	21	681	0.288	0.316	0.408
Jeremy  Hermida	22	348	0.251	0.332	0.368
Grady  Sizemore	22	706	0.289	0.348	0.484
Alexis  Rios	23	460	0.286	0.338	0.383
Rocco  Baldelli	21	684	0.289	0.326	0.416
Corey  Patterson	22	628	0.253	0.284	0.392
Vernon  Wells	23	648	0.275	0.305	0.457
Ruben  Mateo	22	222	0.291	0.339	0.447
Pat  Burrell	23	474	0.26	0.359	0.463

The above data is a collection of each outfielder ranked inside Baseball America’s annual top 10 list from 2000 until 2009 as Desmond Jennings himself ranked sixth on the last edition of the list. The seasons noted represent the first season in which he tallied at least 250 plate appearances in the majors. Hideki Matsui and Josh Hamilton are absent for obvious reasons and Ruben Mateo’s first season with 200-plus plate appearances was used because he never had a season with at least 250 plate appearances, making him the only legitimate bust amongst the group in the sense that he never completed a full season.

Where does Jennings fit in? He turned 24 on Halloween eve, meaning he’ll record his first full season at the oldest age compared to his peers. Age is not a harbinger of success if Maybin and Rios’ seasons are taken at face value. Wells and Burrell played quite well, but three of the six best seasons came from players aged 21 or younger. That’s not because they debuted young, but because they were incredibly gifted players.

Paring the list down based on Jennings’ position. Only six of the sixteen can be called centerfielders, although Rios has played his fair share of center and could have from the start if not for Wells. Regardless, the results aren’t pretty. First year centerfielders recorded the four worst on-base percentages and five of the seven worst. Only Sizemore topped a league average on-base percentage, with Baldelli coming next closest. Slugging percentages were more of a mixed bag. Maybin and Patterson both finished under .400, but Wells and Sizemore both finish in the top five, with Sizemore leading the pack.

Using various filters with the data, a set of projections were former. The first being a standard average. This is about as crude a measurement as they come, but no consideration was given to playing time. The next weighed playing time as a percentage of the whole without considerations for removing the outliers. The third weighed playing time and removed the two outliers (Heyward and Maybin). Finally, only center fielders were weighed without outliers removed. Here are the results:

Average: .266/.330/.424
Weighted average: .269/.329/.426
Weighted average without outliers: .270/.325/.423
Centerfielders weighted average: .273/.315/.433

And here are the results from the real projection systems:

zMLE: .248/.321/.337
CHONE: .263/.331/.384

The advantage these two projections hold is that they actually take Jennings’ performances into account. Something the first set did not. It just played with players who share a certain similarity (or two) with Jennings. They both manage to paint a similar picture: decent batting average, modest on-base percentage, and then a discrepancy over slugging percentage.

Jennings is going to be more fun in 2011 than his statistics are likely to show. The teaser at the end of the 2010 season displayed his plate discipline that transcends his age along with speed that allows him to burn up the basepaths and play a kamikaze outfield, whether it be center or a corner. It also showed that Jennings had minimal experience playing underneath a roof which led to at least one blunder.

The key to enjoying Jennings’ season is to understand that he will not replace Carl Crawford’s production immediately. That statement is without disrespect or sinning towards Jennings’ future because it remains bright. Get excited about Jennings all day and night, just keep expectations in check. Not every prospect will debut by age 23 and dominate immediately like Evan Longoria.

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