Thoughts on Shelton Going Forward.

As the mayhem from Chris Shelton's sizzling open week subsides with Shelton mired in a 1-for-8 slump, the ideas of his ability from here on begin to fly. Immediately, naysayers point to his competition and suggest flash-in-the-pan status, others are more imaginative projecting (reading: hoping for) a true breakout season complete with 30+ home runs and 125+ runs batted in as the Tigers storm to the top of the Central Division standings. Me? I think he and Dan Johnson will have very similar numbers at the end of the season. Yes, the same Dan Johnson that has started the season 0-for-19 thus far.

Anyone who thinks that either will keep up their current pace of hitting (or not in Johnson's case) is fooling themselves. Shelton is a very good, professional hitter. He showed it last year in a 107 game stint with the Tigers banging out 18 home runs while hitting .299 and getting on base at a .360 clip. Johnson played 109 games in Oakland and put up a similar 15-.275-.355 line. The two each played just under 50 games in AAA before being moved up last year and posted equally similar lines with Shelton batting .331 AVG/.417 OBP/.569 SLG with eight home runs and a 1.32 K:BB rate, Johnson was .324/.424/.549 with eight home runs and a 0.75 K:BB ratio.

Looking at their minor league careers, each five years worth of play, continues the likeness:

Shelton 162 Game AVGs
567 AB
188 H
23 HR
108 RBI
1.26 K:BB
.332 AVG
.428 OBP
.539 SLG

Johnson 162 Game AVGs
598 AB
177 H
30 HR
121 RBI
1.29 K:BB
.295 AVG
.381 OBP
.514 SLG

Chris Shelton is a good baseball player and provides great value for the Detroit Tigers especially when you consider his status as a Rule 5 Draftee. His opening week has brought him into prominence on the baseball landscape in the same way Brian Roberts' white-hot start did a season ago. Roberts didn't fall into obscurity, rather he has retained a reputation as a solid player coming into 2006. His explosion was justified by his previous numbers and despite an injury, he posted a very respectable season. Shelton's opening week is much the same in that we aren't staring down the power surge as if Juan Pierre or Jason Kendall just knocked nine extra bases hits. Shelton may remain hot for rest of the month, but remember one thing: the baseball world saw about 17-20% of his home run production just last week. He and Dan Johnson can celebrate the end of the season knowing they were patient, quality hitters that achieved the 25-home run plateau in just their second seasons of play.

History Lesson
As mentioned above, Shelton is a Rule 5 Draftee, so what kind of company is he in with that status? While there have been 100s of $50,000 flameouts, there is some elite company for Shelton to strive for:

Hall of Fame
Roberto Clemente

George Bell
Kelly Gruber
Mike Morgan
Johan Santana

Luis Ayala
Jay Gibbons
Wil Ledezma
Hector Luna
Shane Mack
Andy Sisco
Adam Stern



3 Responses to “Thoughts on Shelton Going Forward.”

  1. It’s weird that you mention Shelton and Johnson together- I talked up both a ton before my fantasy drafts this year. Maybe I should wait a couple of weeks before I mention that about Johnson again…

    I think the comparison is very apt. You did a great job of pointing out their plate discipline indicators, although I like Shelton’s power potential a bit more.


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