Thursday, May 12, 2005
Pride Of El Camino High
As mentioned before, Lee is off to a red-hot start to the young season, raking to the tune of a 1.209 OPS while leading the league in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 33. He is currently on pace to obliterate the 40 homer plateau many pundits have projected him to reach for a while now.
Lee first came onto the scene as a young prospect with the Marlins after they acquired from San Diego in the Kevin Brown deal. Giants fans may remember that in the last game of the season in 1997, Lee hit his first major league home run off of Cory Bailey (remember him?) to give the Padres the win (the game was irrelevant, as the Giants had clinched the division the day before). After being traded to the Marlins, Lee developed a rap as a Rob Deer/Three True Outcomes-type hitter, mixing good power and good plate discipline with too many strikeouts. While statheads liked him for his power bat and his ability to draw a walk, Lee's penchant for whiffing drew the ire of his coaches, and he was even demoted back to AAA for a stretch in 1999.
Lee eventually got his strikeouts somewhat under control, and since 2003 he has been one of the most dangerous 1B in the game. Lee's excellence goes past his prowess with the stick, however. He is one of the best fielding 1B's in the game, and he's a rare 1B who can steal bases, racking up a total as high as 21 in 2003. A more comprehensive study of Lee's history as a prospect can be found here in a profile by John Sickels at Minor League Ball.
In the linked article above, Rogers claims that Lee is underrated. It's tempting to agree, but when analysts are predicting 40-HR seasons for you before every season, it's a little hard to make that case. What I do know is that Lee is in the middle of his prime at 29, and should have several more excellent years in him. So one day, with grandchild on my knee, I can say with a proud grin that I went to the same school as one of the top sluggers in MLB.
Note: I had actually created this post for yesterday, but Blogger crashed and the whole thing got wiped. I was too lazy to then rewrite the whole thing so you're getting this now instead of a depressing summary of the Giants' losses to the Pirates.
Also, if you were wondering just who the hell Jeremy Accardo is, John Sickels attempts to answer that here.