Saturday, August 06, 2005

Brandon Watson

Nationals beat writer/lap dog Bill Ladson had this report today.
Some in the Nationals organization do not consider outfielder Brad Wilkerson a true leadoff hitter, so the team is seriously thinking about promoting outfielder Brandon Watson from New Orleans to bat in the No. 1 slot. Entering Friday's action, Watson is hitting .361 with one home run and 20 RBIs in 72 games. He also has stolen 26 bases and has been caught 12 times. Bowden and team president Tony Tavares have already received glowing reports about Watson from Jose Cardenal, the Nationals' special advisor to the general manager. Cardenal has gone so far as to compare Watson to Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, adding that Watson does not need anymore Minor League seasoning. "Watson hits the ball everywhere. From home to first, he can fly," Cardenal said. "The only thing that he needs to do is, when he gets on base, pick his pitch when he steals a base. Right now, he runs on the first or second pitch all the time and they throw him out. He is going to be a great ballplayer and great leadoff man for this team."
I agree that it is certainly worth the look at Brandon Watson. But Rocket Bill needs to scale back on the praise just a bit. Watson's line at New Orleans thus far is 357/404/424. Not bad for a leadoff hitter. But let's take a look at some other numbers that Ladson neglects to mention. In 73 games and 314 AB, Watson has only 25BB. Pulling the curtain back a little bit more, in Watson's minor league career, from 1999-2004, he walked only 152 times in 610 games (2,407 AB!!!). He has got his strikeouts under control but those are definitely not numbers you want to see out of your leadoff hitter. Additionally, the SB numbers (158/246 in SB attempts in his minor league career). That shows he has speed but has not necessarily learned how to run the bases. Methinks the comparisons to Ichiro are a bit of an exaggeration. I don't want to make it sound like he'd be a failure. He is a better leadoff option than Brad Wilkerson given his arm injury. He has blazing speed, he just needs to learn how to effectively run the bases. His BA is good but the majority of his hits (763/874) are singles with very few doubles (82) and triples (23) in his 6+ seasons. There is something there. He is definitely worth a long look this September (if not sooner). I just want to set realistic expectations.

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