Monday, October 03, 2016

2016 Player Review: Cedric Hunter

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies

Cedric Hunter was easy to pull for.
A former top prospect - a third rounder who reached No. 97 on Baseball Prospectus' top 100 list - he arrived in Spring Training and tore the cover off the ball. I remember seeing him jerk balls into the seats at Bright House Field and thinking, "Maybe he's the next Greg Dobbs."
He made the team out of Spring Training and got his first taste of the Big Leagues in five years. This was going to be a beautiful narrative.
Then the season started and he looked, well, lost.

The numbers are brutal.
He went 3-for-34 with one solo homer.
He left 2016 with a .088/.139/.176 slash line.
If you add those numbers, you get .403.
That's not even a great slugging percentage.
Of course, the baseball gods being the evil monsters that they are, he went back down to Triple-A and hit .294/.324/.433 with 10 homers.
Let's talk about the baseball gods.
They really and truly are malicious beings.
Poor Cedric. Since 2014, he's basically hit .290/.333/.438 in the minors. The guy is so close to being a Big League player. But he's probably never going to be. Can you imagine what that must be like?
Growing up, I remember going to Red Barons games and watching Jon Zuber play.
You probably don't remember him.
Zuber arrived in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre two years after I became a baseball fan and quickly became one of my favorite players. He was a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder.
His first year, he hit .287/.360/.378 in 470 plate appearances. His second year, he hit .311/.394/.417. His problem was that he had no power or speed.
But the guy could hit. And he could get on base.
There's a part of me that always wondered if he'd played for Oakland, would he have ended up in the Big Leagues.
He got a brief appearance in 1996, hitting .253/.296./330 in 30 games for the 96 Phils.
In 1997, Zuber tore the International League to shreds. He hit .315/.421/.451 with 37 doubles and six homers. In 126 games, he scored 85 runs.
Here's the reason I think Zuber and Hunter are different.
Both played for franchises with bad teams. But Hunter was clearly outplayed by the likes of Peter Borjous (Yeah, that's how bad the outfield was this year) and Tyler Goeddel.
Meanwhile, the 1997 Phillies saw Greg Jefferies play 130 games, Midre Cummings play 63 games and Darren Daulton play 84 games.
Ruben Amaro was actually second in games played in the outfield, playing in 117, despite getting just 175 at-bats.
Zuber probably would have provided better value in the outfield than some of the guys who took up at-bats in 1997.
He returned to the Red Barons in 1998 and looked good again, hitting .325/.414/.479.
He got a call up that season and hit .244/.346/.489.
The point in looking at these two guys is that they were clearly extremely good baseball players. But they never stuck in the big leagues for one reason or another.

Season Grade
Will we see him back in 2017?


Smith Johnson said...

Vanity numbers - in other words, the Tollfree numbers that spell out a word or words associated with a product or brand, are far more productive though some may consider it not cost-effective.

GM-Carson said...

I rooted for Hunter, but it just wasn't meant to be.

rslitman said...

I remember Zuber coming up even earlier, in 1994 or 1995, when John Kruk was out getting treatment for cancer.