You know what happened to pitcher Steve Matz? I know he missed the 2010 season due to TJS, and that he was scheduled to pitch this summer in SS or rookie ball. I can't find any stats on him though, did he miss the 2011 season as well?Yup, Steven Matz, who had Tommy John Surgery in May of 2010, was scheduled to return during the 2011 season, but had a setback, including elbow soreness, and did not pitch in competitive games in 2011. The full recovery time for Tommy John surgery is 12-18 months, and my unscientific observation is that younger pitchers seems to take on the longer side of that period with more side effects in their recovery.
I'm really anxious to read your take on Den Dekker. How close is he to displacing Angel Pagan?Not terribly close. Den Dekker is a very nice defensive centerfielder who showed surprising power in 2011. However, he's not a candidate for Flushing until he can show that he can make enough contact at the higher levels. After pounding Florida State League pitching by hitting .296/.362/.494 with an 11% extra-base hit rate in 82 games, the Mets promoted den Dekker to the AA Eastern League where he hit just .235/.312/.426 with 11 home runs in 72 games.
Why did his batting average dip 61 points? Well, his FSL BABIP dropped from .369 to .305 in double-A and his strikeout rate rose from 21.5% of his plate appearances to 29% in AA. It's the strikeout rate that's most concerning. Exactly two Major League players in 2011, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs, both accumulated enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, and struck out in 29% of their plate appearances. Stubbs is interesting. He moved quickly through the Reds minor league system, and spent only 26 games in AA at age 24, the same age as den Dekker in 2011. However, in AA, he fanned in 20% of his plate appearances.
According to Eric Seidman, strikeout rate tends to stabilize around 150 plate appearances, while den Dekker picked up over 250 at double-A this year, suggesting that his swing and miss tendencies are real. Now, he can improve in the department. In fact, he must do so in the coming years. However, the odds are against him. I flipped through Fangraphs sortable stats for the Eastern League since 2006. I used a cutoff of 250 PA to match den Dekker's 2011. There were only a handful of players who struck out as much as 29% and none have gone on to meaningful big leaguer careers.
The power was a very pleasant surprise. For the year, den Dekker combined for 32 doubles, 11 triples and 17 home runs. I really didn't expect to see him hit so many balls over the wall. He did not homer in his 27 games with Savannah in 2010, and I thought his flat swing would never lead to many homers. (I wasn't alone. More than one scout expressed surprise as den Dekker's homer total kept climbing this year.)
As long as Kirk Nieuwenhuis returns from his shoulder problem to healthy enough to start 2012 in AAA, den Dekker will return to Binghamton, attempting to prove that he can become a historical anomaly and trim his strikeout rate.