Is Brad Emaus a Vegas Mirage?

Last week, Michael Diaz compared the minor league numbers of Brad Emaus and Justin Turner, two of the competitors for the Mets’ second-base job this spring.

Here’s the problem with Emaus, he’s never hit outside of Las Vegas above advanced-A.  Last season, playing as a 24-year-old in AAA, he hit .298/.395/.495 with 25 doubles, 10 HR and 50 BB and 50 K in 309 AB in 87 games.  Statistically oriented people salivate over his 1:1 BB:K ratio.  That’s all good stuff, but there’s a major missing piece of information.

Check out his home and road splits.

Home: .338/.408/.609 – 12 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 17 BB, 27 K – 41 G, 151 AB
Road: .259/.383/.386 – 13 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 33 BB, 23 K – 46 G, 158 AB

Whoa, one road home run in 46 games?  A road isolated slugging percentage of .127?  Even Luis Castillo would be unimpressed.

Las Vegas is a great place to hit.  At over 2,000 feet, the ball travels well in the dry, hot air.  The heat bakes the infield and makes it play fast.  As a team, the 51s hit .307/.366/.506 at home and .280/.352/.451 on the road in 2010.
The weighted three-year average on Las Vegas’ park multplier at BBTF is 1.06 on runs created, 1.06 on hits, 1.08 on doubles and 1.01 home runs.  That means that Vegas’s Cashman Field gave up 6% more hits and 8% more home runs than the Pacific Coast League average.  In 2010, the factor on home runs was 1.03 driving the overall up to 1.07.  That doesn’t nearly explain the discrepancy between Emaus’ home and road production.

Emaus’ road performance in 2010 is not an outlier.  In fact, it’s perfectly in line with his 2009 production in AA.  As a 23-year old, he hit .253/.336/.376 with 28 doubles, 10 home runs and 59 walks against 69 strikeouts in 505 AB over 137 games for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  For what it’s worth, New Hampshire played has been hitter’s park with a 1.03 park multiplier in the three-year weighted averages.

There’s no denying Emaus’ tremendous plate discipline and the most valuable thing a batter can do is simply reach base.  However, he just hasn’t hit for any power outside of Las Vegas in the last two years.

Mike wrote that Emaus can “handle third.”  That’s true enough in that he played more third than second in 2010 with Vegas, but he didn’t play it all that well, committing 20 errors in 76 games at the hot corner.  He was error-free in 10 games at second, however.   He played second exclusively in 2009 with AA, committing 16 errors in 137 contests.

Where does this leave Emaus?  Still competing for second-base job.  I’m just more skeptical today about his bat making him an asset at the big league level than I was a week ago.

There are 13 comments

  1. theperfectgame

    Good stuff. (I mean, not necessarily good for the Mets, but interesting and informative.)

    I still think that as the Rule V guy, Emaus gets the first look. But Justin Turner just got another reason not to sign a lease on an apartment in Buffalo quite yet.

    Bring on ST. Really looking forward to the open competition at 2B.

  2. Mack

    I agree, Toby.

    2011 looks to be a year where Daniel Murphy will be given every opportunity to win the job outright.

    I expect Reese Havens to be given the same opportunity in 2012.

    Past that, all these other guys are on the team to fill in the cracks


  3. stickguy

    I still like turner. He put up excellent #s too, especially against LHP.

    the decision could change too depending on the role (starting 2B, platoon guy with Murphy, bench guy).

  4. sylvan

    While your point is well-taken re: Vegas being hitter-friendly, you can’t take those home-road splits too seriously. It’s a tiny sample size. There’s no reason to think that if he had 5,000 AB in Vegas and 5,000 AB on the road, he would really SLG 223 points higher at home.

      1. sylvan

        That’s not true. Maybe you’re forgetting his time in AA in 2010? His total AA+AAA SLG is .423 (402 TB in 950 AB).

      2. theperfectgame

        Overall he’s slugged .423 since the end of 2008 (402 TB in 950 AB). However, away from Vegas he’s only slugged .388 (310 TB in 799 AB). I think that was more the point.

        Regardless, he’ll get his shot along with the others in March.

      3. sylvan

        Well, anyone’s going to look worse if you take away their big hot streak just because it happened in a hitter’s park. Sample size.

      4. theperfectgame

        The sample size argument certainly has credence, but I’m not buying the argument that removing his home ABs is the equivalent of removing his big hot streak. Streaks are temporal. Selectively removing all data with a certain trait that is alleged to have an influence on the results is quite different than removing a hot streak.

        I mean, unless you’re suggesting that Emaus’ big hot streak last year was intermittent, and happened to coincide with the home portion of his team’s schedule. (Which I know you’re not.)

        Anyway, like you said, the small sample size of his AAA experience last year is likely exaggerating the park effect. Still, between his 2009 and 2010 away from Vegas, I think there’s enough smoke to indicate that there at least might be some fire. Regardless, he’ll get his shot in ST, just like Turner, Murphy, and (grumble) even Castillo.

  5. sylvan

    Another point, re: Emaus’s AA hitting environment.

    While New Hampshire may or may not be a hitter-friendly park (the BBTF link says yes, the minorleaguepsplits equivalency calculator thinks it’s pretty pitcher friendly), the Eastern League as a whole is a hitter-unfriendly league.

    Emaus’s total AA line is a not-too-imposing .257/.351/.388/.739, but that’s still better than the anemic .717 Eastern League OPS in 2009. And he did improve with time, hitting .272/.402/.434 in his second go-round in the league.

    He certainly benefited from playing in Vegas in 2010, but he also hit far better than both his league and team averages. (The PCL had an overall .780 OPS and Las Vegas typically is in the .800-.830 range; Emaus put up an .890 OPS.)

  6. robcast23

    Yeah I certainly didn’t mind the pick of Emaus as he’s definitely useful and as far as the 2nd base competition, the more crap you throw against the wall, etc. But especially with Murphy, Turner and apparently Castillo still in that mix and Ruben & Havens both nearly ready I wondered if the selection of a guy who might be able to compete for that #5 spot – like Scott Diamond or Lance Pendleton – might be even more beneficial.

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