MASTER NOTES: Who is the real Wil Myers?

Shortly before Wil Myers was called up to Tampa in mid-June, a look at our Playerlink page showed a rather uninspiring projection:

157 AB, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, .244 BA.

In terms of dollar values, practically the definition of a replacement-level player. We raised the playing time element of the projection when he got called up, but the underlying skills projected to be unimpressive.

Myers has outperformed that projection with ease:

139 AB, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 5 SB, .331 BA (thru 7/30)

That stat line sure makes our initial projection look overly bearish. But does that mean we were wrong? Well, yes and no. In terms of outcomes, there is no question that Myers has already destroyed our projection. But that doesn't mean the initial projection wasn't sound.

Central to Myers' projection was a below-average 8% hr/f rate. The MLB average falls around 10%, and Myers' had posted a 16% hr/f in Durham this year. But, when you make the Triple-A to majors MLE conversion, and then also factor in that Tropicana Field saps RH power (-17%), the 8% projection gets more reasonable. In terms of hit rate or BABIP, we assigned what we thought was a more optimistic initial number: 33%.

Shortly after his callup, we even nudged his hr/f projection up to 11%, which effectively added a couple of HR to his bottom line. That adjustment hasn't been nearly enough, as Myers has more than doubled our projected hr/f rate, with a 20% number. And his h% is flirting with the 40% level, well clear of our supposedly-optimistic 33%.

Can we really learn anything from these first 137 AB of Myers' big-league career, in terms of setting our expectations for the rest of the season and beyond? The sample size is too skimpy to support any firm conclusions. A couple of fly balls die at the warning track, or a few grounders don't sneak through the infield, and Myers' stat line would change quickly. (For further supporting evidence, look at how Yasiel Puig has begun to regress after his scalding start, or what has happened to Jose Iglesias after his ridiculous surge in Boston.)

The truth is, we don't yet have nearly enough evidence to project what Myers will develop into over time. Regression of his still-lofty h% and hr/f is a good bet, but it's hard to say how far those will correct, or how fast. There are only eight weeks left in the season—in itself a small sample size, small enough that almost any player can deliver an out-of-character performance that disproportionately affects your team's outlook (good or bad).

What do we do with this uncertainty? For starters, don't be married to the projections. At their best, they're just a guide, even when looking at a full season's worth of performance. At this time of year, they may not even be good enough to serve as a guide. The best approach is to chase a simple combination of playing time and skill: if you see someone who is going to get a chance to play, and has displayed a skill that matches your current needs, that is probably all you need to make a decision.

As for Wil Myers? These next eight weeks will bring us closer to knowing what he really is. But we will still be well short of having a complete picture. That's the nature of our games, and hopefully, the fun of them.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.