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View Full Version : How does one become a "supersub" or utility guy



TRF
02-29-2008, 11:55 AM
There seem to be three types of players that are considered utility guys

Players over 32 that were never stars, but were good average starters and either moved to a new team or were bumped on their current team. ie Hatteberg
Players that get their break after age 28. Hopper, Freel types.
This is the one that confuses me. The Keppingers, the Gils, the Rey Olmedo's. Younger guys that get labeled utility players early on, but break through to the major league level.Do you think higher rated prospects avoid the utility label because of the cost in signing and developing? Do you think players get labeled unfairly? COULD Freel or Hopper be a starter on a MLB team other than the Reds? How long will a guy like Stubbs avoid the 4th OF tag if his development starts to stagnate? How long before the "Utility IF" tag lands on AGon's back?

For the most part though I am interested in how you feel this affects the development of minor league players. They certainly hear when someone projects them as 4th OF's or bench guys.

thoughts?

RedsManRick
02-29-2008, 12:31 PM
I think there are really only two basic requirements:
1. The ability to play multiple positions.
2. You possess a skill that is valuable in general, but less value than the starters at the position

I see 4 basic templates:
1.) Prince Midas (2B/SS, maybe CF). Has a golden glove with versatility but can't hit well enough to justify a starting gig. Examples: Neifi Perez, Juan Castro, Desi Relaford, Rey Sanchez

2.) Biff (LF/RF/1B, maybe 3B). Can't play defense well, but can do it at a few positions. Often has a big platoon split. Does not tend to age well. Examples: Morgan Ensberg, Craig Wilson, Dallas McPherson

3.) Speedy McHustle (everywhere but C/SS). Can run like the wind and play decent defense all over the field. But he's got little power and a low ceiling. If his legs go, he's toast. Examples: Ryan Freel, Chone Figgins.

4.) The Grinder (LF/RF/3B/1B, maybe 2B). Probably the most common super utility guy. Sort of like the batting average version of Speedy McHustle. He can hit a fair bit and his game is generally well rounded, but doesn't have quite enough power to justify a full-time starting gig. Frequently undervalued and wasted during their prime, where they'd be a good enough starter for a few years. Exampels: Chris Stynes, Rob Mackowiak, Jeff Keppinger, Matt Murton.

IslandRed
02-29-2008, 12:32 PM
I think it starts with a guy who is borderline as a regular. Either he can't hit well enough to be a plus player at his primary defensive position, or he doesn't inspire confidence anywhere on the diamond defensively. Even if he's a regular at some point, the team always has its eye out for an upgrade.

The next is versatility. Versatility, or lack thereof, is why some borderline players can stick around for a long time and others vanish as soon as they're deemed unworthy as a regular. But it's not just enough to play multiple positions; the utility guys/supersubs who stick around can do something better than the rest of the not-quite-regulars. If it's Freel, he can play almost anywhere and isn't useless offensively. If it's Hopper, guys who can post decent OBPs and play a decent CF can hang around as a fourth OF for awhile. If it's Keppinger, he hits considerably better than the typical infield reserve. As for Hatteberg, in the National League, left-handed pinch-hitter is practically an everyday job anyway.

bucksfan2
02-29-2008, 03:02 PM
There seem to be three types of players that are considered utility guys

Players over 32 that were never stars, but were good average starters and either moved to a new team or were bumped on their current team. ie Hatteberg
Players that get their break after age 28. Hopper, Freel types.
This is the one that confuses me. The Keppingers, the Gils, the Rey Olmedo's. Younger guys that get labeled utility players early on, but break through to the major league level.Do you think higher rated prospects avoid the utility label because of the cost in signing and developing? Do you think players get labeled unfairly? COULD Freel or Hopper be a starter on a MLB team other than the Reds? How long will a guy like Stubbs avoid the 4th OF tag if his development starts to stagnate? How long before the "Utility IF" tag lands on AGon's back?

For the most part though I am interested in how you feel this affects the development of minor league players. They certainly hear when someone projects them as 4th OF's or bench guys.

thoughts?

I don't consider Hatty a utility player. Utility player is basically a NL player who has the ability to play multiple positions. A utility guy is not great at either position and really shouldn't be starting on an every day basis. I think a utility player is formed in the minors by players who learn to play multiple positions in order to see the field on a regular basis.

mth123
02-29-2008, 07:35 PM
I think you start with a middle IF who has offensive skill and questionable defense for the position. By virtue of being an up the middle player, the defense is probably good enough for a corner spot, but the bat probably doesn't play there regularly. Add a touch of speed so that the eventual move to the OF includes the ability to cover CF and a utility guy who can go back to his original MI spots in a pinch is born.

The Reds would seem to have a few guys like this in the system. Rosales, Soto, Valaika, Gil, maybe even Frazier fit the mold. Frazier probably has the bat to hold down a corner on a daily basis though. Maybe Rosales and Soto too.

Will M
03-01-2008, 11:39 AM
a lot of super utility guys are speedsters who are frail & wear down easy. If they play every day they aren't nearly as effective compared to when they play say 4 times a week.

Betterread
03-02-2008, 11:11 AM
[I am describing a multiple-position utility player (ie Keppinger or Freel) rather than a late-inning defensive sub like Castro (who also can play multiple positions, but doesn't get the plate appearances of the other type) ]
1) A players needs to display above average hitting ability.
2) A player shows good fielding skills (quickness, good hands, good arm) but this does not show up in consistent and reliable fielding performance.
3) A player shows the willingness and intelligence to learn new positions and play anywhere the organization feels they would be useful.