Why the hype?
Matt Den Dekker, OF: Like Wilfredo Tovar, Matt Den Dekker is a prospect that divides a fan base. Matt Den Dekker has the best outfield glove in the Mets organization and that is including the major league team. If Den Dekker ever gets the chance to start for a major league team, there is a high possibility that he would win a gold glove. With that said, his hitting will never be enough for him to stick as a starter.
Den Dekker exploded out of the gate this year in AA Binghamton. He hit to a tune of .340/.397/.563 with 21 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 8 HRs, 29 RBIs, and 10 SBs. Although this stat line is impressive, Den Dekker produced it at 24 years old – an age that most young players are getting their careers started in the major leagues. Despite the age concerns, Mets fans couldn’t help but get excited with Den Dekker. If his hitting could catch up to his defense, the Mets would have a good player on their hands.
Many believed Den Dekker was figuring out his hitting, but if one were to look closely at the numbers one would see why Den Dekker would never be able to stick as a starter at the major league level. In only 238 Abs in AA, Den Dekker struck out 64 times; he struck out about 28 % of the time. Despite this glaring error in his game, the Mets promoted Den Dekker to AAA Buffalo and hoped they caught lightning in a bottle with this prospect.
Unfortunately, Den Dekker could never find his bat in AAA after his promotion. His stat line was unimpressive: .220/.256/.373 with 10 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 9 HRs, 47 RBIs, and 11 SBs. Although Den Dekker kept pace with his triple, homeruns, and stolen bases, his average and doubles were gashed in half. Those were not the only regressions in Den Dekker’s game. He stopped getting on base as frequently (.397 OPS to .256 OPS) and his strike out rate increased from 28% to 30.5% (90 Ks in 295 Abs). When all was said and done, Den Dekker had struck out 154 times in 533 ABs for a combined strike out rate of about 29 (28.89)%.
Despite his immense struggles in AAA, Mets fans still keep hope. There was a trend developing with Den Dekker. In 2011, Den Dekker struggle in AA producing a slash line of .235/.312/.426 while striking out 33% of the time. However this year he dominated the AA level as said above. With his struggles in AAA this year, many believe there is a possibility he will dominate the level next season and earn his promotion to the major league team.
The trend will probably continue where Den Dekker will struggle in the majors next year and then find a way to produce in the level in two years. Problem is at that point Den Dekker will be 28 years old and his career will not have much of a life span. However, it is more likely that Den Dekker will never be able to cut down on his strike outs enough to be able to stick as a starter at the major league level. Ultimately, Den Dekker will end up being an OF bat off the bench that will be able to provide gold glove defense in the field.