Finding the Next Pierre and Frandsen
* Note: In the comments, nik points out my data is incomplete, which was not known to me prior to publishing this. Check the discussion below and take the data and conclusions with a grain of salt. Sorry for the inconvenience.
At various times here on the blog, I’ve talked about how lucky the Phillies got with Juan Pierre and Kevin Frandsen last season. Both originally signed to Minor League deals, Pierre hit .307 in 439 plate appearances as the Phillies’ every day left fielder while Frandsen hit .338 in 210 PA in what was a breakout year for him, one that earned him an $850,000 payday for 2013. For Pierre, it was his second-most productive season in the last eight years, while Frandsen had by far the most success he’s had at the Major League level at the age of 30.
How did other players signed to Minor League deals fare in 2012? Only four players — Pierre, Jose Lopez Dewayne Wise, and Frandsen — logged 200 or more PA. In fact, only 14 of the 27 players signed to Minor League deals that took at least one PA in the Majors last season logged 100 or more. Six of them hit .260 or better, but of those six, only three logged at least 100 PA in doing so. Four players, minimum 100 PA, posted an on-base percentage of .315 or better. Three, minimum 100 PA, slugged over .400. Only two (Pierre and Wise) swiped five or more bases.
In terms of Wins Above Replacement, via FanGraphs, only three were worth at least one win: Pierre (1.7), Frandsen (1.6), and Austin Kearns (1.2). In total, only 12 of the 27 were above replacement level and as a group, they averaged 0.1 WAR.
|DeWayne Wise||– – –||239||19||4.6%||21.8%||.259||.293||.429||.310||0.9|
|Dan Johnson||White Sox||31||0||29.0%||9.7%||.364||.548||.818||.550||0.6|
|Cesar Izturis||– – –||173||1||1.7%||7.5%||.241||.254||.343||.259||0.0|
|Aaron Laffey||Blue Jays||1||0||0.0%||0.0%||.000||.000||.000||.000||0.0|
|Brooks Conrad||– – –||105||0||5.7%||41.0%||.133||.181||.306||.211||-0.2|
|Drew Sutton||– – –||130||0||4.6%||32.3%||.254||.292||.393||.297||-0.3|
|Jose Lopez||– – –||248||0||3.6%||16.5%||.246||.270||.356||.272||-0.4|
|Omar Vizquel||Blue Jays||163||3||4.3%||10.4%||.235||.265||.281||.242||-0.6|
|Xavier Nady||– – –||166||1||7.8%||22.3%||.184||.253||.316||.248||-0.6|
The Phillies snagged what turned out to be the top two players in the Minor League contract class. Pierre has since moved on to the Miami Marlins, while Frandsen returns as one of the back-up infielders on a Major League deal. The odds of either player repeating last year’s success is slim, and the odds of the Phillies finding one player, let alone two, that will be as productive as Pierre and Frandsen were on Minor League deals is even slimmer.