Jesse, that’s really interesting stuff you have there.
– Braun followed up his big ’06 by starring in the PCL for the first 33 games of the season in ’07 where he hit .333/.403/.675 with 12 2B, 9 HR with 13 BB against 11 K. I saw him repeatedly in his month + in the PCL and he was easily the best hitter in the league. He was actually the best hitter in the league all year, in a decent year for PCL prospects with Geovany Soto, Hunter Pence and Adam Jones, for example. Note his absolute complete command of the strike zone with more walks than strikeouts and his ridiculous power with 21 XBH in 33 games. His low strikeout numbers in the PCL are fairly aberrant among his career totals both in the big leagues and minor leagues. In the majors, he’s owned K rates between 19 and 25%, while his minor league numbers were similar to Davis, which you can see in the chart below.
– In 2009, the Eastern League hit .258/.332/.385 as a whole while the Southern League hit a nearly identical .255/.332/.380. Of course, Braun played in the SL in 2006, but lets basically call it a wash as the overall offensive levels appear very similar. Both hitters’ AA home parks, Huntsville and Binghamton, play largely fair.
– And yes, Ryan Braun did play in the AFL following his 2006 season. Like Ike, he raked in the league:
|Braun ’06 AFL||25||92||.326||.396||.641||9||1||6||11||23|
|Davis ’09 AFL||21||85||.341||.394||.565||7||0||4||8||23|
Braun hit for a little bit more power (16 XBH to Ike’s 11), walked a little more, and struck out a little less. Over fewer than 100 AB is the difference real? Barely.
– Lets keep digging deeper to see if the two players are as similar as their counting stats suggest:
|Davis 09 – A+||59||222||12.2||20.4||10.6||.348|
|Braun 06 – A+||59||226||8.8||20.8||8.1||.325|
|Davis 09 – AA||55||207||11.2||25.8||11.6||.381|
|Bruan 06 – AA||59||231||8.2||17.9||13.6||.324|
|Davis 09- AFL||21||85||8.5||24.5||11.7||.424|
|Braun 06 – AFL||25||92||10.4||21.7||15.1||.381|
During their age-22 regular seasons, Davis walked more than Braun. In AA and the AFL, Davis whiffed more than Braun. Note that Davis’s production relied on very high BABIPs, which were between 23 and 57 points higher than Braun’s in each league and will be unsustainable moving forward. For what it’s worth, Braun’s MLB BABIPs have bounced around, but been strong, going .367, .308 and then .355 in his 2.75 MLB seasons.
– The stolen base difference you point out is key. It indicates simply that Braun is faster and more athletic than Davis at the same age.
– How about defense? Remember that Braun was attempting to play third base at this point. He was awful at third (-23 UZR in only 111 G) so the Brewers moved him to left field where he’s been comfortably below average, but not embarrassing (-17.6 over two years). Davis, should be at least average with a chance to be plus at first.
Basically, your comparison of Davis to Braun is an absolute best case scenario for the Mets and their fans.
I don’t think Davis will be able to equal Braun’s offensive production in the big leagues because Braun’s swing is a cleaner and his power is a little more natural. On the other hand, Davis has shown more patience in the minors, so while I expect him to hit for a lower average, he should get on base plenty. Also, Davis’ potential defensive edge could help narrow the gap.