George Brett recently attended an event hosted by the Kansas City Baseball Historical Society and offered his thoughts on various topics, including Wil Myers. And let’s just say Brett is not worried about the Royals losing their top prospect (via KingofKauffman.com)…
“You gotta remember, Wil Myers is only 22 years old and struck out 155 times last year. He’s gonna struggle.It’s gonna take him a few years.”
First of all, Myers struck out 140 times. And yes, that is still a concern even if you subscribe to the theory that a strikeout is no worse than other outs (it is worse). But there is evidence that his 2012 strikeout totals were a little bloated.
In 2009 and 2010 in low-A and single-A, Myers struck out 17.6% of the time. In 2011, between low-A and double-A, he struck out 20.1% of the time. But in the first 35 games of 2012, while still in double-A, Myers struck out a whopping 27.6% of the time. And yet, when he was promoted to triple-A, his strikeout rate fell to 22.3%. That is still high, but it is a lot closer to the rates he was showing at lower levels.
The bigger concern is his declining walk rate. In 2010, 15.7% of Myers’ plate appearances resulted in a walk. In 2011 that number fell to 13.8%. And in 2012, it was down to 10.3%. As a result, Myers’ strikeout-to-walk ratio has regressed from a very solid 1.1 strikeout-per-walk in 2010 to 1.45 in 2011 and 2.30 in 2012.
For comparison, here are the K-to-BB ratios for Rays players with a min. of 100 plate appearances in 2012…
Notice that the players we would consider good hitters are near the bottom and the bad hitters are near the top. Myers’ 2012 ratio (2.30) almost lands perfectly at the spot we might consider the cutoff between the two groups.
The strikeouts are not ideal. But the Rays can handle the strikeouts if he is still showing a good feel for the strikezone and drawing walks. He has shown he can do this at the lower levels. But for some reason that has gotten away from him as he moved up the ladder. Will it continue to rise, moving him closer to the upper group? Or will he adjust to the better pitching at the upper levels and see his ratio settle in somewhere in the 1.80-2.00 ratio?
So when we are watching Myers’ numbers in triple-A, don’t get caught up on his batting average or home run totals. Rather, watch his strikeouts and walks and see if he is gaining a better command of the strikezone. Once he does that, we will see him in a Rays uniform.