Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Can Wil Myers turn into Matt Holliday?

If you squint when you look at Wil Myers you can see Matt Holliday in there. At least that’s the best comp I can come up with.

By the way, do you have hip(1) boots? You might want put them on if you do. The praise I’m about to heap will get pretty deep.

(1) My boots were hip in the 80’s Trust me! 

The right-handed Myers is a 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. He has a career .300+ average in the minors and was always seen as having a plus hit tool buoyed by his strong pitch recognition. He earned top prospect honors when he broke out in 2012 with 37 minor league home runs.

Playing right field and being a converted catcher, Myers draws immediate comparisons to Jayson Werth and Dale Murphy. But it may be Matt Holiday that serves as the best comparison )if we understand the comp being the post Colorado Rockies version of Holiday).

After Holliday’s 36 homer, 50 doubles, 137 RBI, .340 whopper of a season in 2007, he settled into averages right around .300 with homers in the mid-to-high 20’s. Holiday also had runs and RBI totals during these last few seasons that are right in line with a strong middle of the order hitter. (Holliday is profiled here.)

If everything breaks just right, these are the kinds of seasons we could see from Wil Myers at his peak.

Those are lofty comparisons for the Tampa Bay rookie of the year so we need some numbers to back them up. While we don’t want to lean too heavily on his minor league numbers, Myers earned his minor league accolades and reputation for a reason.

From rookie ball up through Double A, Myers consistently had walk rates of 15% or above. These were coupled with strikeout rates below 20%, an excellent rate, particularly in this age of high strikeouts. Myers made a slight change of approach in the upper minors and this saw his strikeout rate edge up to 22-24%, still good for a power bat.

While Matt Holliday has stayed under a 20% strikeout rate for his career, it’s still notable that he and Myers have a similar stroke with excellent plate discipline numbers. A strikeout is a quick trip to the dugout, so Myers might not be the consistent .300 hitter that Holliday has been, but expect him to flirt with .300 some seasons, while comfortably settling in around .285 for the others.

Likewise, Myers won’t have Coors Field aided 30+ homer seasons, but he’ll easily settle into the 24-28 range for his career. He will also, like Holliday, bring the strong run and RBI numbers expected from a middle of the order bat.

The Rays have them another winner.

Is there reason for concern?

But not everything is sunny in Tampa Bay, Florida. Myers’ August was a stinker.

In 85 August at bats, myers got on base at only a .277 clip and he slugged a weak .318. Pitchers made some adjustments to challenge the young hitter. Myers answered and then some in September, but he’ll have to continue to adjust as pitchers won’t simply let him stroll into a long, successful career.

Myers showed a willingness to trade some contact for power. His rookie of the year campaign yielded a 74.5% contact percentage. Will he adjust back to his more patient ways, work deeper into the count, and drive his walk rate back up over 10%, while enjoying the .300 average that often goes with that approach? Or will he chase 30 home runs, be content with a strikeout rate of 25%, and see his average slide toward .270?

As with most questions like this, it will probably land somewhere in the middle, which makes Wil Myers an excellent fantasy player to watch. He certainly has the pedigree to be a fantasy force for years to come. He also compares well to some great players who have gone before him. We’ll just have to wait and see if Wil Myers ultimately is able to fill their cleats.

Tags: Matt Holliday Tampa Bay Rays Wil Myers

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