Brandon Wood hit 43 homers in 2005 with Rancho Cucamonga, an Angels minor league single-season record.
If you’ve followed the FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects reports I’ve written over the years, one unique analysis is the split of Salt Lake numbers. Franklin Covey field is hitter-friendly at 4,500 feet, but a simple home/road analysis won’t suffice. The Pacific Coast League has other hitter-friendly parks — Las Vegas, Tucson, Albuquerque and Colorado Springs. So what I do is calculate splits for those five versus the rest of the league.
Brandon Wood is no longer eligible for rookie status, having more than 130 at-bats in the majors, so he didn’t appear on the 2008 FutureAngels.com Top 10 list. But after reading yet again more claims by certain individuals on fan boards and blogs that Wood is a “bust” at age 23, I thought I’d perform this unique split analysis and see what we come up with.
Here are Wood’s splits in 2007 at age 22 (AVG/OBP/SLG):
High-Altitude AVG/OBP/SLG: .279/.352/.472
Pitcher-Friendly/Other AVG/OBP/SLG: .258/.305/.553
Here are the new calculations for his 2008 season at age 23:
High-Altitude AVG/OBP/SLG: .296/.382/.577
Pitcher-Friendly/Other AVG/OBP/SLG: .297/.364/.633
A couple of interesting trends emerge:
- In 2007, Wood’s SLG in the neutral/pitcher-friendly parks was higher than in the hitter-friendly parks — .553 vs. .472. That trend continued in 2008, .633 vs. .577.
- Wood showed a dramatic improvement in his neutral/pitcher-friendly numbers, from .258/.305/.553 to .297/.364/.633. Even if you opt to use these more conservative numbers as an accurate reflection of his progress, those are great numbers for a 23-year old in Triple-A.
Some people argue that Triple-A isn’t the big leagues. I agree.
But the only way a hitter is going to learn to adjust to major league pitching is to face major league pitching. That means showing the patience to let him struggle until he figures it out.
I’ve pointed out many times that Mike Schmidt went through a similar struggle. In 1973, his first full season with Philadelphia, his numbers were .196/.324/.373 in 132 games. At the end of that season, he had 401 major-league at-bats. Wood so far has 183 AB. Schmidt was about the same age as Wood is now.
The unique split analysis shows that Brandon Wood has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. It’s time to hand him a big league job, either at shortstop or third base, and let him play every day. It may take a good three months or so before it all clicks for him, but the AL West isn’t likely to pose much of a challenge for the Angels this year, so they can afford to let him have some regular playing time.
Nonetheless, he’ll have to come into spring training and show he deserves that job. My point is it’s time to give him that opportunity.