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Scott Thorman: Will He or Won't He

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Can Scott Thorman Win the Rookie of the Year Award?

Or will he be back in the minor leagues by the first of June?

He is the anointed first baseman for Atlanta, he and his 128 at-bats of major league experience. This assumes that he will win a job this spring, but Cox and company will give him every chance to make his impression, and odds are even if he's hitting .182 be the 28th of March he'll make the team with a comment from the Coxster like "he's been making solid contact, eventually they'll start falling in."

Scott Thorman's track record in the minors is an interesting one. Each of the last three years he's been promoted from one level to the next in the middle of the year after proving himself at the lower level. After a mediocre year at high-A ball in 2003, he tore up that level at the beginning of 2004 - and was soon promoted to double-A where he was once again mediocre for the rest of the year. In 2005 he tore up double-A and was again promoted in the middle of the year, this time to triple-A where he was, you guessed it, mediocre. Thorman came out of the gates strong in 2006 at triple-A and was at times our best offensive prospect in the minors, which earned him a promotion to the majors. But in the majors he reverted to his all-too-familiar mediocre performance.

So 2007 will be his second go-around at the major league level and his history tells us that we should see significant improvement. An improvement in his K/BB ratio, more power from his bat, and more runs being created. Here are his OPS numbers for the timeframe mentioned in the paragraph above:

OPS - Level and Year (OPS improvement over previous year)
.702 - A+ in 03
.819 - A+ in 04 (+.117 over 03)
.732 - AA in 04
.866 - AA in 05 (+.134 over 04)
.751 - AAA in 05
.868 - AAA in 06 (+.117 over 05)
.701 - Pros is 06

That's a pretty established trend. Of course, the majors are a lot different than anything else he's faced. Still, he kept his OPS in the 700s, so should we expect an OPS in the 800s from him this year? He's averaged .123 points higher in the second year when he repeats a level, can we expect that trend to continue? If that holds true then an OPS of around .824 is what we can expect from Thor in 07...right? That's about what Cincinnati got from Scott Hatteberg last year, or a little less than Milwaukee got from Prince Fielder, or about as good as Craig Wilson's major league career OPS. Now, none of this is to say that he will hit that well, or better, or worse, but if he hits around that number then he's probably doing what the Braves expect him to do. If he hits lower then he's a bit of a disappointment and we're entering into Jeff Conine and Shea Hillenbrand-land - and we don't want that from a full-time first baseman. If he does better, well then that's just gravy.

I tend to think that if he sticks in the majors - and he's a fighter so I think he will - that he'll put up an OPS that's right around that .815 to .820 mark. That's not bad for a first year player, but probably not good enough to get him a Rookie of the Year award. If something clicks and he's putting up an OPS number in the high 800s then he's got a shot at the ROY, but that's probably pretty far-fetched.  

Be sure to check out this interview I did with Scott Thorman just before the end of the season. Also, David O'Brien has a nice article on Thor over at the AJC.

We'll play this same game with Kelly Johnson tomorrow, so hold your KJ comments until then.

Poll

What will Scott Thorman be this year?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A Rookie of the Year candidate who is almost as good as LaRoche.
    (18 votes)
  • 32%
    Better than Craig Wilson, but not as good as LaRoche.
    (37 votes)
  • 33%
    Just average, nothing special.
    (39 votes)
  • 3%
    Near the bottom of the league the whole season.
    (4 votes)
  • 14%
    Completely overwhelmed and sent back to the minors.
    (17 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now