Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
You're probably wondering, what does a reputable teacher and counselor do when given a couple weeks off to recharge the ol' batteries and take in some culture? Honestly who in their right mind, given the opportunity, could resist seeing "The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes In Drag"? Not this guy-who's-clearly-in-his-right-mind, that's for sure. So I'm going tonight, and if you aren't good I might report back on it.
I guess it's the baseball fan in me, or perhaps I'm not quite as "in my right mind" as all that, but I got to wondering who would play the 4 golden girls out of a pool of all the major league players. Somehow I can see Eli Whiteside, with his salt & pepper hair and short frame, playing Estelle Getty. "Picture this: San Francisco, 2011. A fresh faced catcher tries to block home plate with his leg..." Would A.J. Pierzynski, tall, "full figured" and homely, not make the perfect Bea Arthur? Maybe I'm a "homer" but I think if you slapped a rack and some earrings on the curly-locked Josh Donaldson, you'd have a rather voluptuous Rue McClanahan. But...Betty White? Who could play Betty White? A little help here?
As for baseball, he won't be playing Rose Nyland anytime soon but nonetheless the guy I've been pondering a lot about lately is Derek Norris. His minor league career intrigues me because it features some extremes that make it nigh impossible to project him as a big league hitter with any confidence.
Defensively, I see Norris as a "work-in-progress" who has a chance to be average. His arm is fine, and some of his failures throwing out runners last year related to pitchers, like Jarrod Parker, struggling to hold runners close. Norris needs to block pitches a lot better than he did in 2012, but he also came up as a very raw rookie who had spent little time in AAA, or in the minors in general, and should improve over time.
At the plate...Really interesting arc. In 2008, 2009, 2010, in A, A+, and AA, at the tender ages of 19, 20, and 21, Norris put together truly outstanding OBPs: .444, .413., .419. His BB rates those seasons? 20.9%, 16.7%, 22.3%. In comparison, Norris' BB rate with AAA Sacramento plummeted all the way down to 8.5% and he debuted in the big leagues with a BB rate of just 9.1%.
On the flip side, there's batting average. Rarely does a good big league prospect put up BAs so low, at such low levels, as Norris' .235 average at A+ and subsequent .210 average at AA. Some of it reflects a fluctuating BABIP (ranging, in the minors, from .251 to .337), and some of it relates to contact rate, as Norris' K-rate rose 4 seasons in a row: 18.5%, 21.5%, 23.6%, 27.7%.
If you want to eyeball Norris' basic and advanced numbers, and see what other important clues you might find, take a gander. It's hard to say what it all means for Norris' big league future. The increasing K-rate certainly does not bode well, yet the decreasing BB-rate could be temporary: Perhaps it was the result of inexperience and an ill-advised change in approach that Norris can self-correct, as clearly the ability to be patient, to work the count, and to draw walks is there.
I think it's fair to say that Norris, in 2013, will probably bat somewhere between .189 and .280, with an OBP of around, I don't know, .275-.415? But beyond that? Not really sure what to expect.