Both Norris Hopper and Jeff Keppinger have gotten a surprising amount of playing time thanks to the medical issues of Ryan Freel, Josh Hamilton, and Alex Gonzalez.
A quick look at their stats:
Norris Hopper, age 28
2007 MLB: 298 Plate Appearances, .340/.375/.401 for an OPS of .776. Has only walked 15 times, and struck out only 30 times. 13 steals in 19 attempts.
2006 AAA: 403 PA, .347/.378/.392 for an OPS of .770. Only walked 20 times, and struck out 25 times. 25 steals in 32 attempts.
Remarkably similar numbers this year in Cincinnati compared to 2006 in Louisville. What you see is what you get; high average, decent OBP(because of average), no power, good speed.
Jeff Keppinger, age 27
2007 MLB: 228 PA, .341/.406/.493 for an OPS of .899. Has walked 20 times and struck out only 11 times. 2 steals in 3 attempts.
2007 AAA: 251 PA, .368/.424/.469 for an OPS of .893. Walked 23 times and K’d 14 times. 1 steal in 2 attempts.
2006 AAA: 490 PA, .316/.368/.389 for an OPS of .757. Walked 40 times and struck out 30 times. 0 steals in 4 attempts.
Also remarkably similar numbers in Cincinnati compared to AAA. With Kepp you get; high average, good OBP, little power, little speed, and a great contact rate.
Both of these two are the real deal. Their high averages are not a fluke, given their near league leading averages in AAA. I think both of these guys are very valuable to the Reds in 2008. They make Ryan Freel very expendable, although Freel is under contract.
Do either of these guys start? Hopper’s defense is average, but many think Keppinger lacks the range to start at shortstop.
I think they are spare parts, but very good spare parts. They are capable of coming off the bench and spelling a starter anywhere in the outfield, or 2nd, 3rd, or short. Great job to WK for bringing these two along....