All Hail the King of Three True Outcomes
Twenty, heck, 15, Ok, 10 years ago, a regular hitting .204 for his career wouldn’t be a regular for long.
Now? At least one .204 hitter is not going to lost his job for a while.
Ryan Schimpf started his career as a 5th round pick from LSU in 2009. Advanced college ball players really need to move through the system fast to become prospects, but Schimpf did not, spending parts of four seasons and 285 games at New Hampshire of the Eastern League. When Toronto moved him to Buffalo in the IL, he struggled and didn’t flash his strengths very often in the batters box. In AA though, he hit 66 home runs and slugged .518 in those 285 games.
Schmipf played second and third in the minors for the most part, and by all accounts could handle the glove work. Toronto had other infield prospects, so they never protected him on the 40-man roster. At the end of 2015, after another season spent mostly in Manchester, NH, he became a minor league free agent and signed with the Padres.
El Paso’s a hitters park and the PCL is a hitters league, especially in the Pacific Division. Even accounting for that, Schmipf put up some whopper numbers. It wasn’t just the 15 home runs in 51 games, it was the 121 total bases, leading to a .729 slugging percentage and a 1.160 OPS.
With Cory Spangenberg on the shelf, super utility Adam Rosales needed elsewhere, and Alexi Amarista being, well, Alexi Amarista, Schimpf got the call as a 28-year old rookie to plug the second base hole in the second half of the Padres season.
Yes, 28 is long in the tooth for a rookie, but Schmipf showed he was more than a stop-gap by blasting 20 home runs in 330 at bats, slugging .533 and compiling an OPS+ of 131.
Never mind that he hit just .217. Never mind that he whiffed 105 times., He walked 42 times and was hit by a pitch nine other times, so his OBP was a reasonable .336.
Schimpf earned a spot in the San Diego plans, especially when Spangenberg didn’t recover from his injuries as quickly as hoped. The Padres, though, felt that Yangervis Solarte was a better defender than Schmipf at second, and swapped their positions. So the long-time minor leaguer came into the season as the regular third baseman.
He’s held on to the job thus far, despite bottoming out on April 24th in the midst of a 1-26 stretch. He seems to have righted himself in the lineup, even with his .156 batting average.
That’s right…he’s hitting a buck fitty six.
You’d be exiled to the farthest reaches of the Western Carolinas league in the past with that number, but not now.
Even with that low batting average, Schmipf is walking. He’s got 18 walks in 97 plate appearances. He’s also blasted seven home runs, including four in his last six games.
Yeah, he’s whiffed 30 times, but…
His OPS+ is now 100 and rising.
He’s got the second highest WAR on the team.
Mind you, he’s playing in Petco as well, which is a pitchers park, much like most of the parks in the Eastern League.
The concept of three true outcomes was popularized in the 80’s to describe a player like Rob Deer, who seemingly just hit homers, walked, or struck out. Three-true outcome players were usually hulking sluggers, but sometimes an infielder like Mark Bellhorn came to the fore to claim the name.
Right now, Schmipf is the three-true outcome king. If he gets his batting average to .200, he’s going to be very valuable for the rebuilding Padres. Just think, if he keeps hitting bombs, he may be an All-Star with a slash like .184/.338/.467.
Nothing wrong with that, is there?
OK you batting average purists…out the door or through the window. We’re talking winning baseball here.