Thursday, August 27, 2009

Norris Hopper Becomes Real Handy

Mike Rizzo grabbed Norris Hopper for cash in a solid bit of advance planning earlier this month. Now, with Nyjer Morgan on the DL, I expect to see that planning pay off.

Hopper has very solid OBP numbers built on excellent contact rates. For his career, he's a .367 OBP hitter, and although most of those ABs came at age 28 in 2007, he's continued to put up solid walk and contact rates in his MLB and AAA at bats since then. This year, playing at AAA for three different organizations, he has a .347 OBP and minuscule 4.4% strikeout rate. His walk rates are low at just 7.4%, but since coming to Syracuse he's walking in 10.4% of his plate appearances, and if your contact skills and speed is good, you're going to provide respectable production overall.

He's especially good against lefties, putting up a .367 / .406 / .456 line against opposite-handed pitching in his MLB career. That makes him a natural fit with Willie Harris for a centerfield platoon.

Hopper is also a solid defensive outfielder, posting a 4.2 UZR/150 in centerfield in 468.1 MLB innings, nearly identical to Super-Willie's career rate.

If Rizzo thinks that he can learn about Justin Maxwell by giving him playing time in center this fall, that's probably worth doing. But to win games now, the right choice is Hopper. He's no game-changer, but he's the kind of solid above-replacement level player that the Riggleman will be happy that his GM has on hand just about now.


Positively Half St. said...

That would have been cool, but instead they are bringing up Pete Orr. Go figure.

Ben said...

Well, I think that means Mr. Harris just got the job.

I would prefer Maxwell.

Elan said...

is my love for maxwell irrational? feel free to answer using statistical analysis.