If I wrote about Matt Adams everyday, I’d probably double our traffic here. Despite the internet wrangling and discussion, Matt Adams just continues to hit. And hit. And hit. That’s what he does. But he does so in a rather perplexing way. He doesn’t walk much (BB% < 8), swings at a ton of pitches but makes contact consistently (K% <= 20) and hits for immense power (ISO > .200). That’s an unusual skillset.
It’s not that difficult to come up with players who hit for power and don’t strike out an egregious amount. Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz or Mark Teixeira are all guys that have moderate strikeout rates and hit for elite power. They also all walk a lot more than Matt Adams with walk rates near 12%.
There’s a couple of players that get closer. Chase Utley has a career walk rate of 9.8%, strikeout rate of 17.7% and ISO of .219. He’s walked more the longer he’s been in the majors. Realistically though, there’s little physical comparison to be drawn between the trim, elite defender at second base and the not trim, not elite defender at first base Matt Adams. That still doesn’t have the look or feel of an adequate comparison.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tony Batista played for 7 teams over 11 seasons accumulating a stat line of a player who hit for power, didn’t walk and didn’t strikeout a ton. The Batista comparison falls apart because he also hit for a career .251 batting average and Adams is currently hitting for a career average closer to .330.
Assuming Adams is a elite power producer (ISO > .200) there are two comparisons from the modern era (90s, 00s) that seem to be adequate. If you think his batting average might slack off a bit, you could draw a line between Adams and Jermaine Dye. Dye hit for power but only walked 8% of the time. He struck out in 20% of his plate appearances. Jermaine Dye had some very good seasons (1999-2001) and some clunkers (2003, 2007). His career batting line was .274/.338/.488, which isn’t an unreasonable forecast for Matt Adams.
There’s another player that looks a little bit more similar though. This player didn’t spend long in the minors but hit for a .313/.375/.572 minor league line. Great power? Check. High batting average? Check. Strikeout rate? 17.5%, check. Low walk rate? 8.1%, check. Those numbers aren’t terrible off what Matt Adams is doing in the minors right now. That player is Ryan Braun. It helps that Braun is also a less than stellar defender. This is certainly an absolute best case scenario type of comparison but there it is, for whatever it’s worth.