Soon, KLSnow will be drawing the winners for the Timber Rattlers ticket giveaway. There's still some time to enter. In the spirit of the Timber Rattlers, now's as good a time as any to examine my following conundrum.
I have always wondered what would happen if a good major league position player in his prime played a full season for a minor-league team, especially if he was healthy and not on a rehab assignment. I came upon a solution to this issue when I was playing with Jeff's Minor League Equivalency calculator the other day. The primary purpose of it is to determine how a player's stat line would have looked in the majors instead of playing at AAA or AA, you're probably familiar with the idea if you've read many of our stories here. But the translations can be abused-- you can reverse the translation to see how a major-league player might have performed at AAA, or even down to low A. Then we can adjust for park and league.
So how might the hypothetical Brewers have performed if the roster was transported and played for the Timber Rattlers last season, facing low A pitchers in low A parks? The results, I assure you, have absolutely no analytical value. But they are fun to look at.
The important thing to remember is that translations are not really applicable to baseball-- they're a specific multiplier to account for difficulty of the event in the league. For example, a translation of Barry Bonds's 2004, in which he hit .362/.609/.812 and 45 home runs for the Giants, says he would accumulate 187 hits in 168 at-bats for a batting average of 1.117-- with 83 homers. Would he have hit 1.117 playing for the Timber Rattlers? Probably not.
So with that in mind, in 2008 crazy hypothetical world, the Brewers and T-Rats switched, and the Brewers roster played against the Low-A teams in the Midwest League. Here's how things turned out:
Ryan Braun batted .424 and hit 68 home runs, driving in 196. He narrowly missed a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Prince Fielder hit .444 and racked up 64 home runs. The weaker arms of low A catchers allowed him to steal an impressive 5 bases while only being caught twice. His inside the park homer total increased to 2.
J. J. Hardy managed to come in second on the team in average at .439, while cranking an impressive 44 home runs out of Fox Cities Stadium. Sadly, the change in catcher ability only resulted in one extra stolen base-- some people just are not fast. A more concerning problem is the fact that J.J. was hit by 33 pitches in the Midwest League-- those pitchers must have been jealous.
Corey Hart may have only hit .389, but did connect on an impressive 70 doubles. He did not quite crack the 40/40 club, with 37 homers and 35 stolen bases.
Bill Hall hit .339 with 28 home runs. Imagine what he could have done with LASIK! I wonder how many of those homers came against left handers.
Rickie Weeks scored 165 runs, leading to the inevitable conclusion that he is a run scorer. If you disagree, you probably have no concept.
Jason Kendall gritted his way to a .342 average. His KUG equivalency increased dramatically, from 158% in the majors to an astounding 240%, driven by the increased grittiness of being a veteran in the minor leagues.
Mike Cameron struck out 120 times at low A. He probably sucks.
Ben Sheets would have hit .106 if the designated hitter rule didn't apply to Single A.
Finally, in 116 at-bats, Russ Branyan hit 22 home runs. I advise extroplating this figure to 600 at-bats, which yields 112 home runs.