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.