Monday, June 24, 2013

What can we reasonably expect from Zoilo Almonte?

Happy Monday, everyone! I've been away lately at work, car shopping and I had my graduation party this weekend, but glad to be back! I'm gonna make sure I post more often. Over the last week, we've had a new, popular player in the Bronx: Zoilo Almonte. He's gotten off to a terrific start in New York and the question is: what can he do the rest of the way? Can he be a solid OF, and considering the awful options, the AL Rookie of the Year? Let's take a look:

Almonte So Far

His stat line as it shows so far: .538/.643/1.000. That's not sustainable, clearly. But, let's look a little deeper. Of the seven hits Almonte has had so far, 3 of them have gone for multiple bases: 2 doubles and a home run. He's been driving the ball, not some cheap hits. He's brought in 4 runs, as well, and scored two of his own. His BB-K ratio is even at 2 a piece. Just based on his demeanor at the plate, Almonte looks very comfortable in his own skin: he's not trying too hard. That's a big problem with rookies, as we've seen with David Adams: trying too hard to keep up with the first 2 weeks of his call-up.

Almonte's Minor League Stats

Batting average-wise, we can see Almonte translates out roughly to a mid-.270's hitter. The last 2 years were .276 in 2011, .277 in 2012. His plate discipline has been a little up and down. Almonte has been susceptible to strikeouts in the past, with his last 3 years at 130, 105, and 103. But, there has been improvement in his K rate: 27.9% in 2010, 24.1% in 2011, 24.5% in 2012 and down to 18.1% this year. He's cut it down by almost 10% over 3 seasons: that's a remarkable improvement by any hitter. He was also drawing walks at the highest rate of his career with 30 in only 68 games in AAA. Over 162 games, that would be 71 walks, a nice rate. Consider this: Adam Jones is on pace for only 17 this year and he's one of the AL's best OF. He'll steal bases, around 15 a year. He also did not have a massive platoon split, as a switch hitter, that's good (.281 against lefties, .303 against righties).

Almonte's Competition

We know Brett Gardner will play everyday. He's improved his hitting, especially against lefties and has been the Yankees MVP so far, by far. As will Curtis Granderson upon his return in about a month. That's two. Almonte's gonna play if he hits, and Ichiro and the Vern-Dog will platoon. Unfortunately, and oddly enough, Ichiro and Wells have tattooed lefties. If Tex were healthy, I would have did an Overbay against RHP and Wells/Ichiro against lefties platoon. Someone on this team has to hit righties. Almonte tattoos them. Joe Girardi can't play Wells (at sub .200!!!!) and Ichiro (at under .230!) against righties. Please, just hit, Zoilo.

Almonte's projections

Let's give him 350 at-bats the rest of the way, a .297 average (his AAA batting average) and at 42% of hits going for extra bases, at 104 hits, 44 would be for extra bases. Realistically, he's probably a .270 hitter with mid-level power. If the rates he had in AAA (Higher BB's, lower K's) are legitimate, he can be closer to that .297 hitter. I would project .270/10 HR/40 RBI the rest of the way. If he improves the average, he's the Yankees starting LF next year, a hope most Yankees fans (youth, productivity) and the front office (CHEAP $$$$) have.

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