Wednesday, April 29, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals PWMBA: Richard Ankiel

The story of Rick Ankiel was a great one before the HGH thing and now it's just another tale of MLB corruption and greed in a world with no law. The streets run cold and the moon whispers secrets told in dark alleys and private rooms. Rick Ankiel did not ask to protect this city but he must have his revenge. Catch all the action in the new thriller/porno "Skin City."

Rick Ankiel's journey from unpredictable pitcher to power outfielder is an interesting one but it has been told many times and is not the purpose of this post. His numbers since becoming an outfielder are and here we go.

Rick's numbers so far have been very good. A good showing in 2007 (.285/.328/.535 in only 47 games) got him a slot in 2008 where he posted a .264/.337/.506 line, good for an EqA of .287. He has been solid but not outstanding in center field with a rate of 92 in 2008. Ankiel appears to be a good player who will continue to produce for years to come.

The concern, however, seems to lie in his ability to take walks and be selective. Ankiel took 3.83 pitches per plate appearance in 2008, tying him with teammate Albert Pujols. Ankiel walked 9.2% of the time while Pujols walked 16.6% of the time. Ankiel should learn to be more selective at the plate.

Is it unreasonable to compare Ankiel to Pujols? Of course. Pitchers are much less likely to throw hittable pitches to Pujols than Ankiel so Pujols should walk more. 3.83 P/PA is also similar to Ryan Ludwick (3.84) and Paul Konerko (3.82), two hitters I would consider to be more comprable to Ankiel. Ludwick drew a walk 10.3% of the time and Konerko 12.9%. I think it would be reasonable to hope for Ankiel to raise his BB% a little and be more selective but it is not dangerously low.

Ankiel should remain a solid fielder with good power. Most projections predict him to post about a .260/.320/.490. Those are solid numbers but certainly not elite. The reason I included Ankiel as part of this series is because I think this season will be very telling for his future. He has now had a full season to adjust to his position and needs to start developing if he will continue to find success at the major league level. If he can get on base at a higher rate while keeping his power numbers strong, then I believe he will flourish. If not, then I think he will find that as he ages and his power numbers drop his inability to get on base at a greater rate will start to be a greater problem. I would set the bar at a 10% walk rate and a .500 SLG. If Ankiel can meet those numbers that I would say he has a good chance of continued performance above a major league level. If not, he may want to turn himself into a gold glove shortstop or find a different career. Perhaps the film industry would suit him.

1 comment:

  1. St. Louis really is the TEAM that could be anything. Will Rick Ankiel play like he did before the All Star break last year, like he did after, or somewhere in between? How much will Ryan Ludwick regress (if at all) from his monster 2008 numbers? Will Skip Schumaker figure out his new position, or will he and Khalil Green continue to hemorrhage runs up the middle of the Cardinals infield (

    And what about the pitching? Will rookie closer what's-his-name be able to step into Izzy's apparently washed up shoes? Will Todd Wellemeyer, Adam Wainwright, and Joel Pineiro be able to repeat their surprisingly solid 2008 numbers? Are Chris Carpenter's days as a brilliant but absurdly fragile starter over?

    I think Ankiel is a good pick for analysis, but really, I have no idea what to do with St. Louis this year, particularly in light of the injuries (both expected and surprising) the Cubs have already been dealing with this season. The Cards could be the team to beat in the Central. They could just as easily be also-rans before the All Star break.

    Of course, we all know which of those options I'M rooting for...