Two months ago I ranked Phillip Ervin as the Cincinnati Reds 14th best prospect. One month ago I wrote up the season review and scouting report on the outfielder. However, there was something that I didn’t bring up. It’s something worth talking about today.
Pensacola has always been a place that’s been very friendly to right handed hitters that pull the baseball. Phillip Ervin is a right handed hitter who has big pull tendencies. In 2016 he managed to hit just .239 for the Blue Wahoos. He slugged just .399, though the .160 isolated power was not bad. Of course, the part about Pensacola playing well for right handed pull hitters didn’t hold true in 2016.
The stadium in Pensacola moved back the fences in left and left-center to accommodate a college football team. The stadium went from a proverbial launching pad into a stadium where power to left and left-center was actually tough to hit for compared to the rest of the Southern League.
For the last three seasons it’s been the batting average that’s held back the overall production for Phillip Ervin. In 2016 he walked 65 times with just 88 strikeouts, a strong ratio for the two stats. He was also very successful on the base paths, stealing 36 bags in 46 attempts.
It all comes back to the batting average holding back the other numbers. We know that Pensacola didn’t help out right handed pull hitters in 2016. Let’s look at his home/road splits during the season:
Look at the incredible difference between the two. It’s enormous. There was plenty of batting average on balls in play difference (.236 at home, .301 on the road). That plays a role, but the power was also significantly higher on the road. In five more plate appearances he hit more than three times as many home runs.
There’s always a chance that there’s just some randomness at play with home/road splits. And there likely is some of that happening here. But, given that we know that the home park played against right handed pull hitters in 2016, maybe there’s something we should be paying more attention to in the numbers.
At home, Phillip Ervin had a .660 OPS. That’s 25 points lower than the league average was in 2016. On the road he was able to post an .854 OPS, which is 169 points better than the league average was. If the Phillip Ervin that showed up on the road in the Southern League in 2016 is closer to the real version of Phillip Ervin than the one that played in Pensacola, then there’s a real chance that he could be severely underrated by my rankings (and very likely the other rankings out there that haven’t been released yet).