Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jonathan Lucroy and contact

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been an offensive force in 2012, and is on the list of the most improved players in the National League. He's improved greatly in every offensive category and could have made a push for the All-Star game had he not suffered a hand injury that cost him two months. But while he was considered a good offensive catcher coming up through the minors, no one thought he would be this good. Most have written him off as a small sample size wonder or a BABIP fluke, and while his BABIP is high for someone who's clearly not a speedster, there is evidence that Lucroy has made some real improvements to his offensive game.

I went into this study assuming to find that Lucroy had drastically improved his plate discipline. I knew he had cut down on his strikeouts, and it seemed that he had been taking more walks and being more selective at the plate. But it wasn't as much as I had thought. Lucroy's walk rate is up (6.8%, up from 6.2% in his first two years), but just barely. His plate discipline numbers don't suggest a major difference either. While is is seeing a few less strikes overall (as well as first-pitch strikes), he's swinging at about the same number of pitches outside the zone, and his overall swing percentage is about the same as his career norms. What is substantially different though, is his rate of contact. 

                                                        "Beast mode" should probably be renamed "Lucroy mode".

In his first two years in the majors, Lucroy possessed a swinging strike rate of about 7%, with a contact rates 85.2% and 83.7%. 2012 has been a different story. He's lowered his swinging strike rate to 5.1% and his contact rate has risen to 88.9% - not a small difference. Lucroy's been more selective, but only marginally so. It's not that Lucroy is swinging at better pitches, more that Lucroy is just hitting everything. When he swings at pitches outside the zone, he's making contact 79.1% (!) of the time, well up from his previous rates. As you would expect with an improved contact rate, his strikeout rate has plummeted. During his first year, Lucroy kept the K's in check, striking out in 14.8% of his plate appearances. But with a larger sample in 2011 (his first full season), he whiffed 21.2% of the time, a surprising number since he only struck out in 13.8% in his PA's in his minor league career. It seemed that either pitchers had figured him out, or he was pressing due to being pitched around as he was often batting in the 8th spot in the order, batting in front of the pitcher. Whatever the problem was, he clearly fixed it. He's striking out just 12.4% of the time, a number you generally see from spray-hitting speedsters, not a catcher.

So is his performance sustainable? I think so. He made a lot of contact coming up through the system, and his willingness to hit the ball to the opposite field makes him tough to pitch to. While his BABIP will likely come down a bit, good hitters tend to have higher BABIP's due to being able to hit the ball where it's pitched, something Lucroy clearly does well. And I haven't even mentioned his increase in power, which is even more evidence of his maturation as a hitter. If he keeps this up, the five-year deal the Brewers gave him in the off-season will be a steal. If he continues to improve, we'll be watching one of the best catchers in the major leagues for years to come. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Does Prince Fielder miss Miller Park?

I haven't really noticed Prince Fielder's absence from the Brewers this season. It's not that I didn't like him or that he's not a great hitter - he is, obviously. It's not even Aramis Ramirez being almost as good as Fielder this year (Ramirez: .367 wOBA, 132 wRC+, Fielder: .384 wOBA, 143 wRC+). It might be that I expected him to leave all along, and to be honest I'm a little surprised he was a Brewer as long as he was. It might be that he went to a team I didn't hate. The more rational explanation, however, is that he hasn't done anything that's made me miss him. He's still good, but he hasn't had any hallmark moments, which seems odd for someone who has as much power as he does. Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Juan Pierre, Adrian Beltre, and Chris Davis have all grabbed headlines with spectacular power performances, but Fielder's highlights are few and far between. Which leads to this question; what happened to Prince Fielder's power?

Through 538 plate appearances this season, Fielder has put up a .204 isolated slugging percentage (ISO). That's great by most standards, and 22 home runs is nothing to sneeze at, but it would be the lowest of his major league career since he became a full-time player in 2006. He did post a .209 ISO in 2010, but was also walked/hit by pitch a combined 135 (!) times and had a career-worse strikeout rate that season. And he's only 28; it's a little early in his career for him to be experiencing a power decline. And while offense as a whole is down, home runs are becoming more common. League-wide, the HR/FB rate is about two percentage points higher than in either of the previous two seasons. So is this just a fluke season, or is there something more to this? 

Some of you may point out that he won the home run derby this year, but I'll also point out that Bobby Abreu once won a home run derby.

There are some easy explanations as to why his power may be lacking. One is by moving to Detroit he's moved to a tougher league in the AL, and as we've seen with fellow slugger Albert Pujols, it can take some time to adjust to new pitchers, ballparks, and strategies employed by his new foes. Another explanation is that he's altered his approach and sacrificed some power to become a better overall hitter, something he's hinted at for years. He's cut down on his strikeouts in a big way, but his walks have also suffered and his batting average is very good but not eye-opening. He's also switched to a tougher ballpark, and while Detroit's Comerica Park has been considered a pitcher's park by most people, in actuality it's bounced around in the rankings the last few years as far as park factors are concerned. One thing is for sure, Comerica suppresses home runs more than your average park, while Miller Park does exactly the opposite. 

Miller Park has always been viewed as an extreme hitter's park, but prior to this season, that hasn't been accurate. The perception has been aided by the fact that the Brewers have had good offenses the last few years while also trotting out underwhelming pitching staffs. In reality, MP is a great home run park, but doesn't encourage other forms of offense and in fact is pretty close to neutral even with the home runs. But this year, offense has been out of control in Milwaukee. It went from being a good home run park to a balls-out ludicrous home run park, and it's been the best in the majors by a large margin. The best explanation I can come up with is the effects of the weather, as the summer heat helps the ball go a long ways and this summer has been hotter and drier than any in recent memory. This also helps explain why home runs have been on the rise in most of the parks not on the West Coast, where the ocean air helps keep the dry, hot air in check.

                                                            Someone about to hit a home run, probably.

So while the miserable hotness has helped increase bombs in most parks (Comerica included), it's really helped Miller Park, the place the Prince Fielder used to call home. And while he's certainly not experiencing an Adrian Gonzalez-level power outage, the Tigers didn't give him $214 million dollars to hit 29 home runs every year, which is what he's on pace for in 2012. Would he hit more bombs in Milwaukee? Almost certainly, but there's no doubt he's happier with the millions Detroit is paying him. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brewers release Randy Wolf

In a move that was written on the wall, the Brewers released veteran LHP Randy Wolf, who was mired in one of the worst years of his career. Wolf was in the third year of a 3 year, $29.75 million dollar contract, and the team is on the hook for the rest of his salary. Wolf pitched fairly well in 2010 and 2011, and notched his first playoff victory in the 2011 NLCS against the rival St. Louis Cardinals. 2012 was a different story, as he put up a 3-10 record with a career-worst 5.69 ERA and whopping 21 HR allowed in 142 1/3 IP. Infielder Jeff Bianchi was called up to take his roster spot, and rehabbing RHP Shaun Marcum will take Wolf's rotation spot this weekend. With the news of Bartolo Colon's suspension, there has been speculation that Wolf could end up in Oakland with former teammate George Kottaras. However, I find this nearly impossible seeing as Oakland has plenty of depth and Wolf is considerably worse than any of their candidates.

The first auto-complete result for a google search of "Randy Wolf Brewers" is "contract", followed by "Randy Wolf Brewers jewish". I have no idea. 

For the Brewers, this is something of a lesson learned. Full disclosure, I liked the signing at the time, and occasional Wolf was fun to watch. And while Wolf's contract didn't turn out as badly as the fabled Jeff Suppan deal, he was not worth the money the Brewers paid him. Hopefully this will deter Doug Melvin from giving large contracts to old, low-strikeout pitchers, regardless of how "safe" they may seem. While those signings were viewed as a necessity for not being able to develop young pitchers through the farm system, the hefty paychecks earned by Suppan and Wolf prevented the team from boosting their roster in other areas. Considering the depth that is currently developing in the farm system due to recent drafts and the Zack Greinke deal, it would seem that deals like this one would be a thing of the past. I hope.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Can the Brewers count on Mark Rogers next year?

Despite a disappointing season, it's not all frowns for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. They've had encouraging performances from many young players, namely Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez. But even though those players (as well as Nori Aoki) have been pleasant surprises, the guy who had the most to overcome might be former pitching prospect Mark Rogers. A 2004 first-round pick, Rogers has had a whopping four two shoulder surgeries as well as two wrist surgeries since joining the Brewers organization. He was an afterthought coming into the season, and honestly, I thought he was done as a baseball player after the wrist surgeries and subsequent poor minor league performance in 2011. If you had told me that he would secure a major league rotation spot before Tyler Thornburg or Wily Peralta, I would have called you a filthy liar.

But I would have been wrong. Rogers pitch fairly well in AAA Nashville, and earned a promotion to the Brewers' starting rotation following the Zack Greinke trade. While his major league numbers (5.02 ERA) seem just okay after five starts, there's evidence he's been unlucky; that lofty ERA is accompanied by a .316 BABIP, 67.9 LOB %, and an inflated 15.4% HR/FB rate, leading to a 3.79 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. In short, better things may be in store. Of course, that's assuming he stays healthy.

In eight seasons in the organization, this is only the second time he's eclipsed 100 innings pitched (2010 being the other). The team has hinted at shutting him down after a couple more starts, which is not only good for his health but should give the team an opportunity to get a look at Hiram Burgos, Peralta or Thornburg in the major league rotation. It's a double-edged sword; while it keeps his workload in check, if any of the aforementioned youngsters are lights-out in his absence, it could cost him a spot in the majors next year.

Looking at what's currently in the organization, a 2013 rotation could consist of Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and two of the group of Rogers, Peralta, Thornburg, Chris Narveson, and perhaps Burgos. And that's assuming the team doesn't make a trade or go after a free agent or two, which would further muddy the waters. The team will likely try to contend in 2013, meaning that the likelihood of them going into next season with the above rotation is very unlikely.

It's not all bad for Rogers, however. While he hasn't been very reliable, there's reason to believe he could still push hard for a rotation spot no matter what the team does to supplement the pitching staff. Among his likely competitors, Peralta has struggled greatly with control in the minors, Thornburg might be too small to be a SP and has had trouble with the long ball, and Burgos hasn't proven himself in the majors yet. Estrada would seem to have a leg up on a rotation spot, but has pitched well in the bullpen before and may be a better fit for a relief role than Rogers. While a relief spot may seem good for Rogers in theory, less innings for him may not equate health; he's be pitching less innings, sure, but he'd likely be throwing harder more often. And the team has shown no interest whatsoever in making him a reliever. Not to mention that despite everything that's happened to him, he's still touching 97 mph with his fastball and breaking a wicked slider.

Personally, if I were running the team next year (read: I won't be) I'd give him every opportunity to win a starting rotation spot. While it's small sample size, it's hard to ignore a 31/9 K/BB ratio, which is what he's done in the majors this year. That kind of strikeout ability has a lot of value for a 4th or 5th starter, even if he's only going five or six innings a start. And if he once again can't stay healthy (I doubt he would lose a spot due to performance), the team would have options for replacing him. Can they count on him? Probably not, but because of there backup options, they don't really have to.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Braun bombs, Hart slams, Jim Henderson saves, Brewers win 7-4

The Brewers' performance last night against the Phucking Phillies of Philadelphia is generally something we're used to seeing happen against us, not for us. After coughing up a lead in the middle innings, the Brewers started a two-out rally against Cliff Lee, who gave way to Josh Lindblom, thus starting a spectacular bullpen asplosion capped off by a towering Corey Hart grand slam. In fact, home runs accounted for all the runs against the Phillies, as Ryan Braun hit two opposite-field moonshots off of Cliff Lee and Aramis Ramirez added one of his own, a towering tater right after Braun's in the first inning. Braun's homers were a welcome sight, breaking him out of a 9-47 slump during which he seemed really out of sorts at the plate.

Brewers starter Marco Estrada couldn't hold a 3-1 lead in the 5th, loading the bases with two outs and then serving up a bases clearing double to some homeless guy Kevin Frandsen to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead which they would hold until Lindblom's apocalypse in the 8th. Frandsen did his part to give the lead back to the Brewers, committing a two-out error that allowed Rickie Weeks to reach and chase the whiff-tacular Cliff Lee (7.2 IP, 3 ER,12 K) from the game.

It was then that Braun and Ramirez's wonder twin powers would once again be activated, as Lindblom couldn't throw anything resembling a strike to either of them, walking both and setting up Hart's heroics. Despite the three-run lead, the game was far from over with the Brewers bullpen still having to get three outs. I was actually excited to see Manny Parra come in for the save, seeing as he's been the team's best pitcher the last month or so and, in a hilarious turn of events, the Phillies were sending up three straight left-handed batters. Parra made Chase Utley look like a doof to get the first out, then a Ryan Howard single and a Domonic Brown cheapie infield hit off of Rickie Weeks' glove brought in Jim Henderson to try to get the last two outs.

I was hoping Roenicke would stick with Parra simply for the sake of why not, but Henderson made it moot by whiffing the uniquely terrible Ty Wiggington and getting Erik Kratz to ground out (sandwiched around a Frandsen single to load the bases). I'm not sure if Henderson is emerging as the "closer" or if Parra starting the 9th is proof that the committee is still a thing, but it was at least refreshing to see the bullpen get some outs for once, pitching four shutout innings overall after Estrada departed. Jose Veras was nastily wild for two innings, Livan Hernandez baffled three Phillies hitters by throwing strikes, and Parra and Henderson got the last three outs to get a win that felt more reminiscent of last year than this year.

Monday, August 13, 2012

News and notes; Weeks is back, mystery strike zone in Houston, Fiers in Coors

Rickie Weeks is back
Weeks was comically bad to start the season, slashing a .153/.286/.288 line through May 29th and playing terrible defense while striking out at a prolific clip. Weeks seemed lost at the plate and in the field, was removed from the leadoff role, and fans began to wonder if Weeks was done as a player. However, since May 30th, Weeks has hit .263 with seven home runs while maintaining his stellar walk rate. His defense has also improved and he's added five steals in that time frame. It appears that his apocalyptic early season performance was more of a BABIP fluke (.189 BABIP in May) along with a propensity to stare at strike three a little too much. Manager Ron Roenicke moved Weeks back up in the order to the #2 spot on Sunday, a sign that the team has regained confidence in Weeks. Fans should do the same.

Houston's goofy strike zone
The Brewers are coming off an uninspiring weekend in Houston, where they lost two of three to a team that hadn't won a series since the Reagan administration. The bullpen didn't do the team any favors, but the offense in particular looked out of sorts against an awful Houston rotation. However, by looking at the called strike zones, it's not hard to see why.

Bud Norris

Dallas Keuchel

Jordan Lyles

These are just the called strike zones from the Houston starters, and Houston's relievers benefited from more of the same. The only thing I can add about this is that the strike zone all weekend was just bizarre. On the Milwaukee side only Marco Estrada seemed to get the same treatment (which he did nothing with), and Jordan Lyles is the only Houston starter that didn't get a primarily beneficial zone. I don't think that the home plate umpires were favoring Houston, but many hitters seemed to have no idea what was a ball or strike, and clearly neither did the umpires. So while Corey Hart, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun looked bad during the series, this might help explain why. Oh, and here's Yovani Gallardo's called strike zone.

Somehow I don't think home plate umpire David Rackley will be getting a Christmas card from Yo.

Mike Fiers pitching in Coors
The Brewers start a series in Denver tonight, and despite how horrible the Rockies are as a team, this is an important test for rookie hurler Mike Fiers. Despite an unimpressive repertoire, Fiers has blown through the competition thus far to the tune of a 1.80 ERA with a 2.22 FIP and a 5.00 K/BB ratio. Fiers was outstanding in his last start against the Reds, pitching eight innings of one-run ball and took a perfect game into the seventh inning. That start was particularly notable because it's the first time he'd faced an opponent for the second time. Monday night's game in Colorado will prove a stiffer test.

Coors is and always has been an extreme hitters park in every sense of the word, as the thin air in Denver encourages home runs makes it harder to field sharp grounders and line drives. It also keeps breaking balls from breaking (curves and sliders tend to break 25% less than they do at sea level), which might negate Fiers' looping curveball and turn him strictly into a fastball-changeup pitcher - a dangerous proposition for a guy with a 31% ground ball rate. I wouldn't be surprised to see Fiers favor his cutter a little more in this game, and he may survive simply because the Rockies haven't seen him yet. Either way, it will probably take a bit more luck for Fiers to escape Coors unscathed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What would the Brewers have to do to contend in 2013?

Ever since Mark Attanasio took over the Brewers franchise, it's been pretty clear that the team wants to compete every year. Although the team has only made two playoff runs (with one other close call in 2007) since Attanasio purchased the team in 2004, they've kept themselves out of the cellar of the division and maintained relevancy in the NL. And while this season has been a tremendous disappointment, there's no evidence that the team is interested in a rebuilding phase. While it seems smart that the team should use the 2013 season as a mini-rebuild and a litmus test for players such as Mark Rogers, Jean Segura, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada, Logan Schafer, etc., there are a few problems with this scenario. I'll leave my personal views out of this for a minute and just look at this objectively.

Other than a possible hit in attendance due to a less-competitive roster, 2013 is the last year the team will possess slugger Corey Hart. Although a contract extension is possible, Hart is setting himself up for a big payday and will likely price himself out of Milwaukee. While first basemen aren't all that difficult to find, veterans tend to be expensive and the internal options of Matt Gamel and Hunter Morris are weak at best. Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez will both be on the downside of their careers in 2014, and there aren't any impact bats in the minors to fill any holes that might arise. 2013 is also the last year the team controls CF Carlos Gomez, and no matter what you think of Logan Schafer, he's probably a downgrade. Another issue is that the team might decide to save up for 2014 but "accidentally" compete in 2013. Coming into this year, no one expected the White Sox, Orioles, and A's to compete, but here we are in August and they're all in the thick of it. The extra wild card opens up a lot of possibilities, and making the playoffs should not be cast aside; flags do fly forever. And finally, if the team were to consider adding a much-needed starting pitcher, this is the offseason to do it.

While the idea of free agent starting pitchers tend to make Brewers fans shudder, there are a lot of good pitchers out on the market (I've included guys who will almost certainly have options declined). There are the decent, young-ish options with upside (Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Francisco Liriano, Brandon McCarthy) as well as buy-low guys (Roberto Hernandez, Ervin Santana, Carlos Zambrano, Jonathan Sanchez), coming-off-injury bargains (Jorge De La Rosa, Rich Harden, Joel Pineiro, Chris Young, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker), and steady, reliable veterans (Joe Blanton, Bartolo Colon, Ryan Dempster, Hiroki Kuroda, Colby Lewis, Brett Myers, Joe Saunders). And then there's possible trade candidates and guys who could have their options declined (Gavin Floyd, Dan Haren, James Shields, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Jake Westbrook). It's also within the realm of possibility that the team brings back Shaun Marcum, and they've made it clear that they will try to go after Zack Greinke when he hits the market.

                                        Bonus: Brandon McCarthy comes with a supermodel wife.

Although the team's offense will probably be just fine going into next year, a starting rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers, Estrada, Peralta, and Rogers/Chris Narveson/Tyler Thornburg isn't destined for glory. Considering the injury histories of Narveson and Rogers (and Marcum for that matter), possible regression of Estrada and Fiers, and the unknown of Peralta and Thornburg, the team will have to go after a couple of pitchers pretty much no matter what they decide to do. It comes down to whether they bring in veterans on minor-league deals for depth or bring in someone who can help them long-term. And as for the bullpen, even if the current staff doesn't rebound (which I think they will), options abound in free agency as well as the guys who would likely be pushed to relief roles if the team does bring in free agent starters.

Basically, the team's 2013 fortunes revolve around what the do with the pitching. And given management's history, it's likely they will be players in the free agent market in some capacity. But what SHOULD they do? Both competing next year and building for the future have their pros and cons. But those things aren't mutually exclusive; as long as they don't part with prospects to acquire help for next year, the future can still be bright. And if they sign someone like Edwin Jackson to a reasonable multi-year deal, they'll obviously be around for potential playoff pushes in 2014 and beyond. While there aren't any blue-chip prospects in the minors, thanks to recent drafts and the Zack Greinke trade, the depth is better than it's been in years; we're not going to end up like the Astros or Cubs. Whether they push for next year or focus on the future, I'm okay with it. And there's nothing to say it can't be both.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cesar Izturis to Nationals; FREEDOM! Also Jean Segura.

Cesar Izturis has been acquired by the Washington Nationals, MLBTradeRumors reports. No word on what the Brewers will get back, but it'll probably be nothing other than some wadded up cash from GM Mike Rizzo's pocket. The Nats needed infielder depth, and apparently didn't mind said depth possessing a toothpick for a bat.

                                                 The most misleading Izturis photo ever.

Taking Izturis' place will be shiny new prospect Jean Segura, whom the Brewers snagged in the Zack Greinke trade. This call-up is a little puzzling, seeing as this starts the clock early on Segura's service time and he might not be ready for the majors just yet. The team has done this before, however, calling up Alcides Escobar in the second half of the 2009 season and Lorenzo Cain midway through 2010. Regardless, we won't have to watch Cesar hopelessly flounder at the plate anymore. Hallelujah.

On bunting, with a link!

After a raging Twitter debate last night about Ron Roenicke and bunting, I was preparing to do research on the subject when I stumbled on this article, which is nothing short of genius. I've always been in the anti-bunt camp, but I don't consider it a fireable offense, especially considering the other strategic principles Roenicke employs. In fact, it's always flummoxed me how Roenicke can follow other sabermetric ideas (defensive shifts, refusal to issue intentional walks, platoons when necessary, catcher usage, etc.) yet bunt so much. The aforementioned article sheds some light on why managers in general still use the bunt as an offensive tool. I still hate the play, but it explains that managers might not be the blithering imbeciles we assume they are. So if you have any interest in the subject at all, I suggest you read the linked article above. It's a little long and math-y, but great nonetheless.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Carlos Gomez should be the Brewers' starting center fielder

With the season lost and winning a secondary goal, fans should expect to see plenty of changes for the Brewers down the stretch. A few veterans will probably be moved in waiver deals with young players taking their place as the team tries to build for the future. But one development has already taken place; Carlos Gomez has seized the everyday center field job.

Frankly, he should. Everyone knows what Nyjer Morgan is at this point, and the Brewers will not achieve anything by giving him playing time besides the occasional start to give someone a day off. Gomez is only 26, and at this point full-time playing time can only help him as a hitter. He appears to be developing power and has already achieved a career-high in home runs with nine in just 247 at-bats (with a shiny .212 ISO). Over a full season of plate appearances, 20 home runs is now a real possibility for him. And we already know what his speed can do on the bases.

                                                     Not to mention all the bat flips.

As far as plate discipline goes, his raw numbers look awful (5.2 BB %, 22.2 K %) but I don't think it tells the whole story. The best way to say it is that his patience is extremely inconsistent. He goes through stretches where he's willing to take pitches and work to get into a favorable count, then goes through stretches where he swings at everything. Seeing as he's been a part-time player since 2009, it's still within the realm of possibilities that he can improve in that area if he plays every day.

While he's been used as a platoon player the last two years, that has been more for the benefit of Morgan than Gomez. Carlos has no discernible advantage against lefties (.242/.287/.398) or righties (.246/.297/.357) in his career and has actually been far better against RHP this season. Platooning him also keeps his defense out of center field every day, and as anyone who's watched him play can attest, he's an elite defender at an important defensive position.

I am not saying that Carlos Gomez is a great player, and calling him a good player might be a stretch. But if he's the worst hitter in your lineup, you've got a pretty damn good team. The playoff-bound Angels are currently getting away with using Peter Bourjos as their primary CF, and he's pretty much identical to Gomez in every way (not visually, of course). And is Gomez really any worse than Chris Young or BJ Upton? Brewers fans may be annoyed by his erratic play, but the truth is there aren't that many good center fielders out there, certainly not offensively. He's been roughly a two-win player each of the past two years in about half a season's worth of at-bats; if he's worth 4 WAR over a full season, that's pretty good for a CF. The chances of the Brewers finding an upgrade are minimal. If his power is real, and I think it is, the team should definitely consider him as their primary CF for next season and beyond.