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This may be the Player Preview I’m dreading the most, simply because it may be the hardest. Almost everyone else that I’ll be looking at has some sort of MLB track record, even if it’s as small as Kendry Morales’ 279 games. Brandon Wood is an entirely different case, entering 2010 without even 1/3rd of the games played at the Major League level, and so we don’t have much of a history at this level to look at.
His minor league history, of course, is quite well-known among Angels fans, at one point rating as high as Baseball America’s #3 prospect, and after 7 years at various levels in the Angels’ system his chance to shine at the highest level has finally arrived. He’s taking over the reins at the hot corner from the Angels single most valuable player last season, Chone Figgins, who left for Seattle via free agency. To say that he has big shoes to fill, after Figgins lead the 2009 Angels in both UZR and WAR, would be an understatement. Expecting him to do it may be another matter entirely.
There’s not a ton of information we can get from Wood’s ML numbers, except to say that they’ve been rather unimpressive so far. In 236 PA spread across three seasons, Wood posted a .192/.222/.313 line, with 7 HR, 7 BB, and 74 K’s. Not exactly what you’re looking for to replace Figgins. His UZR also is quite unhelpful, since he entered 2010 with only 36 plays at 3B, and while he posted a 0.8 UZR in those plays, the sample size is ridiculously small. Offensively, the minors were an entirely different story for Wood, who posted a .286/.354/.541 line with 160 HRs across 7 seasons and 5 different levels. This tells us some about the kind of player Wood is, a guy with power that has some solid on-base skills, but of course minor league success doesn’t always translate to the same kind of success in the majors.
Perhaps with Wood more than any other player we’ll look at, we have to rely a lot on the projection systems when it comes to our own projection of where Wood will end up this season. All of the typical ones I look at, CHONE, ZiPS, Marcel, Bill James, see Wood not performing as well as his averages in the majors, but there’s not a ton of agreement beyond that, with a 30 point swing in wOBA, and a difference of as many as 13 HRs between them. CHONE is most optimistic, pegging Wood at .246/.309/.453 with 20 HRs and a .330 wOBA, while Marcel is most pessimistic, projecting Wood at .239/.295/.385 with 7 HRs and a .300 wOBA.
I’m quite torn on this myself, as Wood seems like a guy with a ton of potential who was just never able to break through. There are not many people that seem old at 25, but for some reason Wood is one of them. In the end, based more on my gut than anything else I think, I feel like Wood is going to have a rocky first year, and finish with around 15 HR’s, and a .240/.300/.440 line. He’s spent time at third in the minors, though he started out as a SS, and so he at least has some experience fielding third. How good he will be at it, though, is anyone’s guess. Just another of those fun questions we’ll get to see played out before us as the season progresses. Let’s just hope the answer we get this time is better than some of the others we’ve seen so far.