Is Josh Satin for Real?
Josh Satin has officially become interesting. On a team notable for offensive futility over the last few seasons, Satin’s hot streak since being called up already counts as one of the better three-week stretches we’ve seen from a Mets hitter this year. So now the question is, what do the Mets have here?
The obvious answer is that, in a 28-year-old rookie with a bad defensive rep, they have exactly nothing, and the last three weeks are a fluke. This is a player who went unclaimed when removed from the 40-man roster last year, implying something of a consensus on Satin’s lack of value. Platoon righty first baseman at least need to be able to hit homers, right? Satin’s career high of 14 in 130 AAA games last year won’t cut it.
The less obvious answer, though, is that the Mets are the lucky owners of a hitter who’s still improving and may already be good enough to merit finding him a position. A tour through Satin’s minor league numbers:
Low Minors: 2008-2010
Satin played his first game of pro ball in 2008 at age 23. Unlike many older prospects, he was not rushed through the system, spending 2008 in Brooklyn and 2009 in Savannah. He opened 2010 in St. Lucie, and after a .406 OBP there, earned a mid-season promotion to AA. Satin’s numbers thus far reflected a patient, high-average hitter with doubles power and a lot of strikeouts:
High Minors: 2010-2012
Satin spent 173 games in AA, earning a promotion to AAA Buffalo for the final quarter of the 2011 season, and remaining there for the entirety of 2012. At both levels, he continued to be the exact same hitter he had been: a doubles machine who walked a lot, struck out a lot, and hit .300 with a dozen homers. The singles and doubles actually tailed off in 2012, perhaps showing a hitter who was no longer improving beyond the rate of the competition.
Las Vegas: 2013
One might expect a power surge from any hitter entering Las Vegas, and Satin’s 9 HRs in 59 games should be taken with a grain of salt. That .300 batting average doesn’t look too impressive either, given the conditions. Satin’s .305 / .420 / .491 line indicates he’s much the same hitter he’s always been. This pair of numbers did stand out to me though:
Look at the strikeouts. As good as his walk rate has always been, Satin’s strikeout rate has always been about 50% higher. Per 162 games, his K rates have been 152 in AA and 136 in AAA, which doesn’t bode well for MLB success. In 2013, however, he was striking out about as much as he was walking, at a pace of about 120 per 162 games.
Satin mentioned some mechanical tweaks he made this past offseason. Could he have permanently improved his contact ability? That’s not something one generally expects from a 28-year-old, but Satin has an amount of professional experience more typical of a 24-year-old. Although he may not be as projectable as a toolsy teen, it’s not unreasonable to think that Satin is still on an upward trajectory, rather than having reached a performance plateau.
So far, he’s been able to take his performance at one level, and duplicate it at a higher level once he’s promoted. I don’t think it’s too late to hope that he can repeat that at the highest level. What would that look like in 162 games?
.303 / .398 / .465, 42 doubles in 153 games
Basically, he’d be what Mets fans hoped Daniel Murphy would be, before injuries and inconsistency at the plate lowered our expectations.
How much is that worth? Well, an .863 OPS ain’t what it used to be. It’s much, much better. From 2001-2008, that would have ranked 25th or 26th in the National League. In 2012, and so far this year, it’d rank 13th.
A guy who barely cracks double digits in homers and derives a lot of his value from walks is never going to wow anyone, and it may be hard to stomach a bad glove without some wow factor at the plate. But if Josh Satin really could post a top-15 OPS, that sounds to me like the kind of bad glove you make room for.
What do you think? Is it safe to assume that Satin’s upside is limited, and relegate him to a minor role in the team’s plans? Or is it worth it to take playing time away from other Mets, and give Josh a thorough chance (300+ ABs, playing every day) to see if he can become a solid part of the lineup for years to come? Please weigh in in the comments.