Right, it's playoff time, and I'm making a quick post about a single-A catcher—deal with it. I made my Division Series picks at the final hour over on my twitter page (yea, I "tweet") and also promised a post that evening—best unemployed writer, ever!
Anyway, there have been a fair number of negative things written about Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris. Here are comments by two of the industry's most well-known prospect authors:
- Kevin Goldstein stated, "[Norris] became an on-base machine with little power" while giving him a mulligan due to injuries (I'll touch on these later).
- Jason Gray wrote, "Norris will look to rebound from a subpar season in the Carolina League, where he hit .235 and slugged just .419."
Truth be told, I actually thought there was more negative press about the 21-year-old. However, we still have two authors who walked away unimpressed with the power that Norris displayed in 2010.
Quick explanation: Keith Law wrote in a recent chat transcript that it isn't uncommon for hitters to take a year to a year-and-a-half to recover their power stroke after a hamate injury. I have read that similar power-sapping can occur with wrist injuries. The hamate bone is, from my non-medical opinion, a part of the wrist, and as such, Derek Norris' power-sapping should not have been too much of a surprise.
Norris also suffered a minor concussion when he was hit in the head by a "96 mph fastball," which Norris admitted took him a fair amount of plate appearances to bounce back from. This is something his month-by-month statistics show as this was the only full month where Norris posted an OPS under .830 (keep this number in mind for later). Even his playoff-shortened month of September had Norris posting an OPS of .865 (if my math is correct).
Of course, we don't want to eliminate Norris' month of June all together, but we can see that something might not have been right that month—and it's not out of the realm of possibility that it had to do with his having just taken a fastball to the head.
Neither of which is the point. The point here is that Norris didn't really have that bad a season. In fact, his power numbers as they are would suffice in the big leagues.
Consider where he would stand with those numbers at the show. These numbers I am speaking of are the end of season line of an .838 OPS and an ISO of .184.
Among catchers with 390 plate appearances (Norris had 387) there are 20 qualified catchers, five of whom posted an OPS higher then Norris' .838, while six put up an ISO over Norris' .184.
In other words, if Norris' numbers translated cleanly to major league baseball, he suffered a serious hand injury and a concussion, and we're still looking at a top-five or top-six hitting catcher in baseball. Keep in mind Norris is also putting in a conscious effort to be a better defensive catcher, something we all know a guy like Jorge Posada could care less about.
Derek Norris is one of my favorite prospects and should be one of yours, as well. Keep his name in mind over the next 20 months or so because he'll be making a splash in Washington while Stephen Strasberg is making a push for his first Cy Young award.
Quick question, is the catcher position getting "deep?" There are a fair number of highly regarded youngsters that are already in the majors, and we should see another handful or so in the next year.