Martin Prado, by all accounts, is performing much better than most people anticipated. He leads all of baseball in hits (107), and currently sits at 5th in batting average (.334). Despite his success, however, he’s been quietly flying under the radar of quite a few fantasy managers as well as the ever-astute yet Northeasterly fixated ESPN pundits (though they did publish a nice article on Martin on ESPNinsider).
While a lot talk this season has focused on how well Cano is performing, as well as other perennial studs in Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia, it’s easy and understandable to overlook Prado.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Phillies Phandom (article here), where the author states that Atlanta would have been better served to sign Chone Figgins instead of playing Prado — stating that his role as a utility man was good, but didn’t make him worthy of playing everyday.Figgins currently has a triple-slash line of .232/.337/.277 (compared to Prado’s .334/.376/.477 at the time of this article). Good news for the Braves they they missed out on such an opportunity.
But what’s exciting about Martin Prado is that there’s absolutely no indication that he’s having a fluke season. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) has been over .320 each year since 2007 and currently sits at .367 in 2010. While such a feat is moderately high, even if he regresses towards his career numbers he’ll be at .345, which is very satisfying indeed.
A lot of talk has been thrown around about rookie Jason Hayward and the great season he’s having (despite having an abysmal last month-and-a-half), as well as the incredible bounce back year of Troy Glaus, but people fail to realize that despite their high run production, they still haven’t been responsible for creating the most runs for Atlanta.
That honor falls to Martin Prado, with a wRC of 54.4, where wRC is weighted runs created, and represents the total number of runs a player is worth over a period of time. In explanation, Prado has contributed to about 5.5 of Atlanta’s wins this year (10 runs = 1 win).
Another helpful counting statistic we can use when determining Prado’s worth is wRAA, or weight runs above average. This tells us something similar to wRC, but provides more context with the overall league dynamic. We can use wRAA to explain how many more runs a player will create than the average person at their position, and this season Prado has clocked in at 13.2, indicating that if we were to stick a run-of-the-mill 2nd basemen in for Prado, we would expect 13.2 fewer runs created this season, which would be one less win for Atlanta.
And given their place in the standings, one less win could have them in second place instead of first. This is what makes baseball great.
But how does Prado compare to other players at his position? How can we expect anyone to, in their right mind, take Martin over a Robinson Cano or Chase Utley? While I’m not advocating doing so simply because of the sheer numbers that those two can put up, I am saying that they’re not quite out of Prado’s league. They aren’t on playing on a higher level, if you will, especially if you considered overall worth to one’s team – Prado ranks 2ndamong the four (Pedroia, Cano, Utley, himself) in percentage of team wRC.
Player Name Team wRC Player wRC Player wRC %
Robinson Cano 413 64.9 15.71
Martin Prado 362 54.4 15.03
Chase Utley 337 50.1 14.87
Dustin Pedroia 440 55.6 12.64
As far as worth to his team, only Robinson Cano has been more valuable, and we could even say that Cano’s stats could be slightly inflated due to factors beyond our control, such as the potency of the Yankees’ line-up, and Cano playing way over his career numbers (his BABIP, ISO, wOBA, and wRC+ are all significantly higher than his career numbers, and he’s already matched his WAR from all of 2009).
While he’s performing well, there are things to note that may cause concern for the future. He doesn’t walk much (6.2 BB%), so if that average begins to dip, so will his OBP. Additionally, while he does rank 2nd in the NL in runs scored (54), he’s not particularly fleet-footed, with a speed rating of just 3.5, good for 13th among MLB second basemen.
While he hits for a high average and has good gap potential (23 doubles ranks second among MLB second basemen), he’s not going to be a guy you expect to knock one out but 10-15 times a year, and as such will likely spend his career in the leadoff spot or 2-hole where opportunities are limited.
All said, Prado is certainly far more than some utility man, and if he keeps his body of work up as he has been, there’s little reason to believe he won’t continue to blossom.
All Statistical Information from: http://www.fangraphs.com/