After plenty of speculation, Wil Myers has officially been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of the package in exchange for James Shields. Unanimously considered one of the best prospects in the game, the Royals have been criticized by many for their willingness to include him (along with three other prospects, like Jake Odorizzi) in the trade.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with the team’s bold decision (especially given the depth of their young hitting and the winability of the AL Central), that’s not really relevant here. The truth is that, while people want to considers Myers a can’t miss prospect he is far from it.
There is no arguing how impressive his numbers were last season, splitting time between Double and Triple-A:
.314, 37 HR, 109 RBI, 98 R, 6 SB over 522 AB
There are a few numbers that need to be take into account, however. Let’s look at his strikeouts and BABIP he posted at each level:
- Double-A (134 AB) – 27.6% // .425
- Triple-A (388 AB) – 22.3% // .349
In fact, his minor league career average of .303 is buoyed by a .356 BABIP. Is that an impossible number to maintain? No, but it also isn’t a certainty. Throw in an issue making contact against pitchers at the upper levels and there should suddenly be concern about hs average.
While others have had more hype based on greater BABIP numbers (like Alex Gordon, who hit .321 based on a .375 BABIP, and Matt Wieters, who hit .343 based on a .370 BABIP), they offer a similar warning. Both Gordon and Wieters were considered can’t miss prospects and, while they have developed into productive players, early in their careers they certainly fell short of the hype.
Can the increased strikeouts be corrected? Baseball America explains the problem this way, after ranking him as the Royals’ top prospect:
“What makes him stand out is that he pairs his pop with an advanced approach at the plate and excellent hand-eye coordination. When he uses the opposite field and doesn’t worry about hitting homers, he can post high batting averages and on-base percentages. His decision to try to hit for more power in 2012 meant that Myers took more aggressive swings in two-strike counts, resulting in a career-high 140 strikeouts. After struggling with chasing balls that were too far in on his hands to hit fair in 2011, he made adjustments to lay off those pitches while showing he could pull fastballs on the inner half for extra bases.”
It is apparent in the numbers, as he had hit just 27 HR prior to the power surge in 2012. So, the question that has to be asked, is he going to continue swinging for the fences? From the metrics, unless something changes, he likely won’t be able to hit for a high average while also posting extreme power.
You also have to keep in mind that a lot of the power came while playing in the Pacific Coast League, well known for elevating player’s power numbers. That has to be taken into account. While that’s not to say that he doesn’t have the power potential, 37 HR potential may be pushing it.
Could he hit 30 HR with a .260ish average? It’s not impossible. Could he hit .290ish with 20+ HR totals? That’s another clear possibility. The question is if he can make the adjustment and bring both to the table, hitting .290+ with 30 HR?
The fact is, we really don’t know if (or when) it will happen. While he could be a can’t miss player, he also may not reach his full potential for four or five years, especially given the underlying numbers.
From a fantasy perspective, you also have to take into account the possibility that the Rays keep him in the minor leagues early in the season to delay his arbitration clock. We’ve seen it many times before, and chances are we are going to see it again here. The Rays know their budgetary constraints, and they need to do what is necessary for them to keep their players for as long as possible.
Will Myers be a fantasy option this season? Absolutely, but do not go into the year expecting him to carry your team. There’s more of a chance that he goes down the road of a Wieters or Gordon as opposed to a Mike Trout.
What are your thoughts of Myers? How good do you think he will be in 2013? Would you have traded him as part of the package to land James Shields?
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Make sure to check out all of our extremely early 2013 rankings: