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May 5, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg

What the Future Holds for Brandon Wood

We all remember the huge power and the awesome numbers Brandon Wood put up in 2005 at Single-A Rancho Cucamanga where he hit 43 HRs, 51 doubles, and sported an ISO-power of .351. However, we haven't seen numbers close to that output since.

As Wood has climbed the minor league ladder, some red flags have shown themselves. The biggest red flag is Wood's propencity to strike out. His K% in 2005 wasn't all that high at 21.5%, but that number jumped all the way up to 28.5% in AA, and though he improved in 2007, his K% was still 24.6%.

What is the significance of Wood's strikeout problems?

By striking out as much as he does, Wood puts a cap on his batting average and in the process puts a cap on his OBP since Wood doesn't walk enough to make up for a sub-par batting average. His MLE (Major League Equivalency) for batting average is around .230.

If Wood hits .230, his OBP still comes out in the .280 - .310 range. If you bump his average up to .250, his OBP becomes more respectable. If he is able to hit .270, Wood will have a great deal of value because his OBP will be at a more than acceptable level. One reason for the high K% is the problems he has with pitch recognition, which is one of the more difficult things to improve upon, though it is doable.

Wood has shown a split against LHP and RHP, but his numbers against RHP have been good enough to play everyday against them. However, last year was the first season where his numbers against RHP looked somewhat sketchy; he hit .255 with a . 775 OPS and struck out in 26.4% of his ABs.

The Swing

Were there any warning signs in Wood's swing back in 2005? Not particularly, but for a power hitter he has always made contact a little too far out in front where ideally he should be letting the ball travel deeper into his hitting zone. By letting the ball travel deeper, he gives himself more time to decide whether to take the pitch or swing.

Brandon Wood batting Brandon Wood

*Credit to calleaguers.com

On the plus side, Wood has always generated excellent bat speed. His load is a bit long, but is a major factor in the power he generates. Wood has an aggressive turn through the ball that brings his arms around with it. His swing plane is tailored to generate plenty of hard hit fly balls.

Other Notes

So far we've talked about what Wood does not do well. However, what Wood does do well is hit for power. In fact, his power is pretty close to plus-plus. The .351 ISO Wood put up in 2005 likely set unrealistic expectations for Wood going forward, but the .276 and .225 ISO-powers put up by Wood the past two years are nothing to sneeze at.

The big question is what position Wood plays at the major league level. Most scouting reports I've seen indicate Wood is a good fielder at shortstop. However, it is not certain Wood will be playing at SS for the Angels. If Wood is able to stay at SS, his value greatly increases as there would be much less pressure on his bat to carry him at the big league level.

Wood is noted for his strong work ethic and is also known to be a good athlete, which will help him as he continues to tweak his swing. Nevertheless, whether he can develop better pitch recognition is easily the biggest question mark Wood faces.

Brandon Wood Going Forward

When you have a new player that strikes out a lot and has problems with pitch recognition, there is a tendency for things to snowball on that player when they start slumping. The reasons include a tendency to press, deciding to swing at a pitch before it is thrown, not feeling confident hitting with two strikes, and the list goes on. If Wood is able to maintain his confidence and not worry about striking out, he should be fine.

Wood will probably not reach the expectations laid out for him after his 2005 season, but there are much worse things to have on your roster than a good fielding, low average, high power SS. His bat should play at any position, but his value dramatically increases by staying at SS.

Grade:
8.5 Upside, Low Probability
6.5 Mid-Levell, Average Probability
5.5 Downside, Low-Average Probability


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