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The WAR Room: 2014 Carolina Mudcats hitters season in review

Lucas' solid season leads the way for Mudcats hitters

The WAR Room: 2014 Carolina Mudcats hitters season in review
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
September 14, 2014
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The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. With the minor league seasons coming to an end, today we start bringing you seasons in review, starting with the 2014 Carolina Mudcats. This week we will focus on the Mudcats' hitters before moving to the Lake County Captains next week.

Of course, it is always important to keep context in mind, just like with scouting. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also, the lack of good defensive metrics for the minor leagues means we have to adjust for a range of defensive abilities. To account for this, I will give you each player's WAR with a qualifier: either poor-defense WAR for a poor defender (-10 runs below-average per 162 games), average-defense WAR for an average defender (0 runs per 162 games), or great-defense WAR for a great defender (10 runs above-average per 162 games).

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

Today we look at the 2014 Carolina Mudcats hitters. Next week we will move to the Lake County Captains. For the full stats, go ahead and click here.

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jeremy Lucas Indians (A+) 23 101 378 2.3 3.0 3.6
Yhoxian Medina Indians (A+) 24 99 385 1.5 2.1 2.7
Yandy Diaz Indians (A+) 22 76 283 1.6 2.0 2.5
Erik Gonzalez Indians (A+) 22 74 308 1.4 1.8 2.3
Todd Hankins Indians (A+) 23 88 349 1.3 1.8 2.3
LeVon Washington Indians (A+) 22 70 252 1.3 1.7 2.1
Jerrud Sabourin Indians (A+) 24 89 322 1.0 1.5 2.1
Anthony Gallas Indians (A+) 26 58 221 0.9 1.2 1.6
Luigi Rodriguez Indians (A+) 21 99 336 0.5 1.1 1.7
Alex Monsalve Indians (A+) 22 93 359 0.5 1.1 1.7
James Roberts Indians (A+) 22 117 407 0.3 1.0 1.7
Logan Vick Indians (A+) 23 82 263 0.1 0.6 1.1
Ollie Linton Indians (A+) 28 23 75 0.4 0.6 0.7
Joe Sever Indians (A+) 23 72 270 0.0 0.5 0.9
Torsten Boss Indians (A+)/O 23 43 147 0.1 0.4 0.6
Charlie Valerio Indians (A+) 23 17 53 0.1 0.2 0.3
Cody Ferrell Indians (A+) 24 6 8 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Eric Haase Indians (A+) 21 16 65 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2
Ryan Battaglia Indians (A+) 22 31 89 -0.7 -0.5 -0.3

Notable Catcher

Jeremy Lucas (Photo: MiLB)Though injury cut catcher Jeremy Lucas’ season a little short, he still managed to lead Mudcats position players in average-defense WAR with 3.0. In addition to getting a bump from spending so much behind the plate, Lucas also added value with his power (.175 isolated power, 142 ISO+) and plate discipline (15.7 percent strikeout rate, 80 K%+; 11.8 percent walk rate, 137 BB%+). Nothing about Lucas’ 2014 season sticks out as wildly unsustainable, yielding hope the 23-year-old will be able to replicate it in 2015. Lucas still needs work on being better defensively behind the plate and is a little old to have not yet logged significant time in Double-A, but this season is encouraging nonetheless.

Notable Infielders

Erik Gonzalez (Photo: MiLB)The 2014 season saw shortstop Erik Gonzalez establish himself as a real prospect for Cleveland, though his performance in Carolina does raise a few red flags the 23-year-old will need to answer going forward. Gonzalez’s 1.8 average-defense WAR in 74 games was pretty good, though it was benefited by a .355 BABIP (115 BABIP+). The rest of Gonzalez’s game was fairly average (.120 isolated power, 98 ISO+; 19.3 percent strikeout rate, 98 K%+; 6.8 percent walk rate, 79 BB%+), which adds up to decent value from a shortstop. But given Gonzalez is already 23 years old, he will need to continue to perform like this at each step up the ladder without any significant interruptions.

Third baseman Yandy Diaz may have only played in 76 games in his stateside debut due to an opening day injury, but he impressed nonetheless. Diaz’s 2.0 average-defense WAR was easily above-average, but the 23-year-old actually could be even better going forward. The third baseman is notable for how hard he hits the ball, yet that power has yet to show up in games (.081 isolated power, 66 ISO+). But if it does, the combination of it plus Diaz’s insane plate discipline (10.4 strikeout rate, 53 K%+; 14.5 walk rate, 169 BB%+) could help him make an even bigger impression next season.

After struggling in a late-season callup in to Carolina in 2013, second baseman/shortstop Yhoxian Medina came through in a big way this season. With 2.1 average-defense WAR in 99 games, Medina took over a starting spot after Gonzalez’s callup and did well with it. Medina does not hit for much power or draw a ton of walks (.068 isolated power, 55 ISO+; 8.9 percent walk rate, 103 BB%+), but he is able to limit his strikeouts (14.0 percent strikeout rate, 71 K%+) and move around the diamond. He may not be a high-level prospect, but the 24-year-old seized his opportunity and ran with it.

Notable Outfielders

Anthony Gallas (Photo: MiLB)Outfielder Anthony Gallas does not add any real value on defense, but the 26-year-old impressed with his bat in 2014. Gallas posted an above-average 1.2 average-defense WAR in 58 games in Carolina before getting the call to Akron. Despite a slightly elevated 21.8 percent strikeout rate (111 K%+) and below-average 7.1 percent walk rate (83 BB%+), Gallas was still valuable with his bat thanks to his .204 isolated power (166 ISO+). The reality of minor league baseball is that an undrafted, older player like Gallas has to perform at a high level in order to keep getting chances; in Gallas’ case, he has done exactly that and should continue getting chances in the future.

It was another normal year for outfielder LeVon Washington, in that the 23-year-old put up an above-average 1.7 average-defense WAR in 70 games but also missed a significant chunk of the season due to injury. Some of Washington’s offense came from his .374 BABIP (121 BABIP+), but his 14.5 percent walk rate (169 BB%+) also played a big role. But after falling under 80 games played for the fourth-straight season (which doubles as all four of his full professional seasons), Washington’s development remains stalled despite his success when he is on the field.

Outfielder Luigi Rodriguez, on the other hand, did bounce back from an injury-riddled 2013 season to play 99 games and post 1.1 average-defense WAR. That WAR total leaves Rodriguez as an average player results-wise in 2014, though the 21-year-old did post a solid .116 isolated power (94 ISO+), 22.4 percent strikeout rate (114 K%+), and impressive 12.7 walk rate (148 BB%+), there is hope for the outfielder going forward. Though his WAR is hurt by playing the majority of his time in right field (where his bat does not profile well), there are positive signs in his 2014 performance that could point toward another step forward next year.

Todd Hankins could really go in both the infielders and outfielders category, as he logged 46 games in center field, 34 games at second base, and eight in left field for the Mudcats. No matter where he was playing, Hankins put up a strong 2014 season, posting 1.8 average-defense WAR in 88 games. Hankins hit for some decent power despite his listed 5’11”, 180 pound frame, posting a .132 isolated power (107 ISO+) in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. The 23-year-old’s flexibility will help him going forward, and while he is not a standout prospect, Hankins has some intriguing characteristics he will bring to Akron in 2015.

Quick Hits

Alex Monsalve (Photo: MiLB)Catcher Alex Monsalve’s 1.1 average-defense WAR in 93 games is decent, but it is likely not good enough to keep him from falling further down the prospect ranks. The 22-year-old is still fairly young, however, though his league-average bat (100 wRC+) fits much better as a catcher. If Monsalve continues to be bumped from behind the plate -- as he was in 2014 -- his value will keep falling.

Following a rough start to the season in Akron, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin made his way back to Carolina, where he turned in a strong 2.1 great-defense WAR in 89 games. Sabourin showed better pop than before (.112 isolated power, 91 ISO+), but given he will be 25 years old next season, he will need to show it quickly in Double-A to keep getting chances.

Despite a below-average 0.6 average-defense WAR in 82 games, outfielder Logan Vick has reason to expect better results in 2015. Vick’s .247 BABIP (80 BABIP+) is unsustainable and will bounce back, and when that positive regression is paired with his 17.6 percent walk rate (205 BB%+), good things should follow.

Second baseman/third baseman James Roberts was below-average in his 117 games this season, posting 1.0 average-defense WAR, thanks in large part to his difficulty in hitting for power. Roberts’ strong contact ability is great to see, but until he improves upon his .052 isolated power (42 ISO+), the 22-year-old will struggle to push his value above average.

Like Diaz, first baseman Joe Sever missed two months after opening day due to injury; unlike Diaz, however, Sever did not do quite as well after returning. The biggest thing holding Sever’s 0.5 average-defense WAR in 72 games was a lack of power (.070 isolated power, 57 ISO+), but with a 14.9 percent strikeout rate (76 K%+) and 9.5 percent walk rate (110 BB%+), the 24-year-old should see his value shoot back up if the power returns.

Catcher Eric Haase got a short taste of the Carolina League late in the year, though the 21-year-old had a rough go of it. With an -0.3 average-defense WAR in just 16 games, Haase clearly will need time to adjust to High-A. Some of Haase’s problems stem from a .244 BABIP (79 BABIP+), but the catcher will also need to improve his 27.1 percent strikeout rate (137 K%+) and 7.1 percent walk rate (83 BB%+) in order to find success.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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