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The WAR Room: 2014 Columbus hitters season in review

A plethora of major league options highlight the season for Clippers hitters

The WAR Room: 2014 Columbus hitters season in review
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
October 26, 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 at an end, we continue bringing you seasons in review, with today's featuring the 2014 Columbus Clippers hitters.

The list of previous season in reviews are below:

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 finish our look at the Columbus Clippers with the hitters before moving to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers next week. For the full stats, go ahead and click here.

Name Team Age G PA Poor D WAR WAR Great D WAR
Jesus Aguilar Indians (AAA) 24 118 427 2.7 3.5 4.2
Zach Walters Indians (AAA)/O 24 67 268 2.8 3.2 3.6
Roberto Perez Indians (AAA) 25 53 174 2.1 2.5 2.8
Giovanny Urshela Indians (AAA) 22 104 395 1.8 2.4 3.1
Tyler Holt Indians (AAA) 25 59 227 1.9 2.3 2.7
Jose Ramirez Indians (AAA) 21 60 245 1.2 1.6 2.0
Carlos Moncrief Indians (AAA) 25 132 480 0.8 1.6 2.4
Audy Ciriaco Indians (AAA) 27 112 373 0.8 1.5 2.2
Matt Carson Indians (AAA) 32 82 274 0.8 1.3 1.8
Luke Carlin Indians (AAA) 33 61 184 0.7 1.1 1.4
James Ramsey Indians (AAA) 24 28 109 0.7 0.9 1.1
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 87 314 0.2 0.7 1.3
Justin Sellers Indians (AAA) 28 102 355 -0.1 0.5 1.2
Tim Fedroff Indians (AAA) 27 70 231 0.1 0.5 1.0
Dusty Brown Indians (AAA) 32 17 54 0.2 0.3 0.4
Ryan Rohlinger Indians (AAA) 30 85 292 -0.2 0.3 0.8
Francisco Lindor Indians (AAA) 20 38 165 0.1 0.3 0.5
Russell Branyan Indians (AAA) 38 4 12 0.1 0.1 0.1
Adam Abraham Indians (AAA) 27 18 55 0.0 0.1 0.2
Todd Hankins Indians (AAA) 23 2 7 0.0 0.0 0.0
George Kottaras Indians (AAA)/O 31 27 84 -0.2 0.0 0.1
Jason Kipnis Indians (AAA) 27 3 9 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Nyjer Morgan Indians (AAA) 33 15 60 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Chris Wallace Indians (AAA) 26 18 53 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1
Michael Bourn Indians (AAA) 31 5 20 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Ryan Raburn Indians (AAA) 33 4 17 -0.3 -0.3 -0.3
David Cooper Indians (AAA) 27 40 143 -0.7 -0.4 -0.2
Bryan LaHair Indians (AAA) 31 10 35 -0.6 -0.5 -0.4

Notable Catcher

Roberto Perez (Photo: MiLB)It was only 53 games, yet catcher Roberto Perez still put up 2.8 great-defense WAR, more than enough to be above-average in a full season’s worth of games. Some of Perez’s value is helped by his .388 BABIP (125 BABIP+), but the 25-year-old’s power surge (.213 isolated power, 161 ISO+) and plate discipline (13.9 percent walk rate, 157 BB%+) were much more important. A high number of strikeouts will likely always be a part of Perez’s game (24.4 percent strikeout rate, 126 K%+), but his walks, power, and defense more than make up for them and leave Perez, at worst, as Cleveland’s backup catcher of the future.

Notable Infielders

Zach Walters (Photo: MiLB)Similar to Perez, infielder/outfielder Zach Walters had an MVP-type season while in Triple-A, logging 3.2 average-defense WAR in 67 games. Walters’ strikeout rate was not nearly as big of a problem as it was in the majors, coming in at 22.9 percent strikeout rate (118 K%+), and really allowed his power to come through. We will see in time whether Walters’ .310 isolated power (234 ISO+) in Triple-A will come through fully in the majors, but with such a high level of performance under his belt in the International League, there is hope Walters will be able to bring some of that to Cleveland in the years to come.

Though it was helped by playing over 50 more games than Perez and Walters, first baseman Jesus Aguilar leading the Clippers with 3.5 average-defense WAR in 118 games is still great to see. The combination of Aguilar’s average 19.2 percent strikeout rate (99 K%+), above-average 12.8 percent walk rate (145 BB%+), and above-average .206 isolated power (156 ISO+) makes for an All-Star-level season in Triple-A and one that should translate well to the majors in time. Aguilar did not do well in his brief stint in Cleveland this year, but those few games should not overrule the strong season he put together in Columbus.

The breakout star of the minor league season would have to be third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who followed up his elite 24 games in Akron with 3.1 great-defense WAR in 104 Triple-A games. Urshela saw a nice spike his power, posting a .197 isolated power (149 ISO+) while making a ton of contact. The recently-turned 23-year-old may not walk much (7.0 percent walk rate, 79 BB%+), but he makes a ton of contact and barely strikes out (11.9 percent strikeout rate, 61 K%+). Urshela got better at making contact with pitches he could do something with in 2014, and now that he is doing that, his high-contact ways could yield great offensive seasons like the one he put up here in Columbus.

Infielder Jose Ramirez spent a lot of time in Cleveland, but while he was in Columbus, he foreshadowed his nice showing in August and September. Ramirez posted 1.6 average-defense WAR in just 60 games, giving Columbus yet another infielder playing at an All-Star level. Ramirez’s power boost in 2014 (.139 isolated power, 105 ISO+) feels like a Huntington Park aberration, but even if it slides back down to normal, the 22-year-old’s low strikeout-decent walk combination (10.8 percent strikeout rate, 56 K%+; 9.0 percent walk rate, 102 BB%+) will play well in Cleveland.

Notable Outfielders

Tyler Holt (Photo: MiLB)Outfielder Tyler Holt started the season in Akron, but he pushed his way up to Columbus, where the 25-year-old just continued to hit. Holt combined that offense with his elite ability in the outfield to post 2.7 great-defense WAR in just 59 games, very similar to what Perez accomplished. Holt’s .378 BABIP (122 BABIP+) is unlikely to last, but with the ability to post a 16.5 percent strikeout rate (85 K%+) and 14.3 percent walk rate (162 BB%+) and play very good defense in all three outfield positions, Holt has the ability to contribute really good value, something he could bring to Cleveland in a fourth outfielder role as soon as opening day.

The 2014 season represented a bit of a step back for outfielder Carlos Moncrief, though the soon-to-be 26-year-old still had 2.4 great-defense WAR in his 132 games. Moncrief was only slightly above-average because of the regression in his plate discipline (24.5 percent strikeout rate, 126 K%+; 7.2 percent walk rate, 81 BB%+), but there is hope for the outfielder. He is good on defense, has a cannon for an arm, has showed decent power for a right fielder (.160 isolated power, 121 ISO+). The whole package is not quite there yet, but with a little growth in his strikeouts and walks (and maybe tapping into his raw power a little more consistently), Moncrief could easily become a major league option.

Quick Hits

Francisco Lindor (Photo: MiLB)Shortstop Francisco Lindor was roughly average with his 0.5 great-defense WAR in 38 Triple-A games, though a lot of his value came from the defense. The soon-to-be 21-year-old’s plate discipline slipped upon his promotion (20.0 percent strikeout rate, 103 K%+; 5.0 percent walk rate; 56 BB%+), something he will need to work on before getting the call to Cleveland.

After coming over in return for Justin Masterson, outfielder James Ramsey made his Triple-A debut with the Clippers. Ramsey was very good in those 28 games, putting up 0.9 average-defense WAR, with only some of it coming from his .378 BABIP (122 BABIP+). There is work to do, but his .183 isolated power (138 ISO+) and 10.2 percent walk rate (115 BB%+) are encouraging signs.

He may not be someone pushing for a major league job in 2015, but infielder Audy Ciriaco’s versatility, good pop (.204 isolated power, 154 ISO+), and 1.5 average-defense WAR in 112 games was pretty valuable to the Clippers. At worst, Ciriaco should fulfill the same role for some team next year, though with some luck, he could get a shot at a major league job for a rebuilding team.

There were no September heroics available for outfielder Matt Carson, though the 33-year-old did have a decent season in Columbus. Carson’s above-average 1.3 average-defense WAR in 82 games helped the Clippers, and while it did not get him a call up to Cleveland like in 2013, the outfielder still served as a useful depth option in case things went horribly wrong at the major league level.

For a while it looked like outfielder Tim Fedroff had a shot at making an impact at the major league level, but now it seems that ship has sailed. Fedroff’s prospect standing has fallen pretty far, with the 27-year-old’s below-average 0.5 average-defense WAR in 70 games seeing him demoted to Akron midseason.

Catcher Luke Carlin is one of the better veterans to have in Triple-A and his 1.1 average-defense WAR in 61 games was not bad either. Who knows how much longer Carlin will want to keep playing (he will be 34 years old in December), but as long as he wants to suit up, he will be a great guy to have in the Clippers clubhouse.

Utility man Elliot Johnson’s time in Cleveland did not go all that well and neither did his 87 games in Columbus. His 0.7 average-defense WAR is below-average, not painting a great picture for his major league future. The same goes for fellow utility man Justin Sellers, whose below-average 1.2 great-defense WAR in 102 Triple-A games was not enough for Cleveland to keep him on the 40-man roster (Sellers was traded to Pittsburgh for cash considerations on Saturday).

Another utility option the Clippers had on their roster in 2014 was Ryan Rohlinger, who posted 0.3 average-defense WAR in 85 games. Rohlinger is like Carlin, however, in that his clubhouse presence and flexibility in the field is are a big part of his value, helping Columbus to swallow the essentially replacement-level performance.

First baseman David Cooper has been through a lot with back injuries, but while it was great to see him on the field, the performance was not quite there yet, with the 27-year-old posting -0.4 average-defense WAR in 40 games.

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.

User Comments

October 28, 2014 - 7:38 PM EDT
This is the deepest I can remember the Indians being in true AAA positional prospects in a very long time.

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