Kelly And Knizner: An AFL Comparison

Updated: Dec 8, 2017



This article is as simple as it sounds. With Carson Kelly having been sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2016 and Andrew Knizner taking the same path to the Arizona Fall League in 2017, I just wanted to take a moment to compare how the two did statistically.


To a degree, I wanted to do this comparison because this is as close as we can come to comparing these two in a similar environment. Also, with so many in Cardinals Nation asking the question "does the rise of Andrew Knizner make Carson Kelly expendable?", this *MIGHT* give us an idea of an answer for that question.


But before we get to all of that, let's take a second to realize how lucky we are to have two high-tier catching prospects in the organization. Let's take another second to realize just how rare that is.

THE VARIABLES


These two young men have a lot more in common than I think most catchers in other organizations have. Keep in mind that they both were 22 during the entirety of their time in the AFL. Remember that both had just completed their third season behind the plate after having no prior experience catching.


But before we get too far into this, let's enjoy this fun play by Carson Kelly during spring training. It's just one of my favorite little plays. Nothing really to do with the article other than Carson Kelly:



Now, even with those similarities, keep in mind that Knizner had just completed his first full season in the organization after being drafted out of NC State while Kelly entered his AFL season at the end of his 5th season in the organization after being drafted out of high school. Also, remember that the stats do not exactly translate evenly because of how the pitching talent varies from AFL season to AFL season. I'd argue that the competition that Kelly faced in 2016 was better than what Knizner faced in 2017, but it's still too early to tell.


THE OFFENSIVE STATS


CARSON KELLY, 2016

GAMES AT-BATS HITS RUNS DUBS TRIPS HR RBI TB SO BB AVG OBP SLG OPS

21 77 22 12 4 0 3 18 35 4 13 286 387 455 842


ANDREW KNIZNER, 2017

GAMES AT-BATS HITS RUNS DUBS TRIPS HR RBI TB SO BB AVG OBP SLG OPS

17 67 24 8 3 0 3 12 36 11 4 358 403 537 940



NOW, while we see a more advanced and patient approach from Kelly in the stat line above, we don't really see that much of a difference anywhere else. They both hit relatively the same amount of extra bases. Knizner had more hits in fewer opportunities and was on a pace for more extra base hits but, relatively speaking, those are two pretty similar stat lines for two pretty similar hitters.


THE DEFENSIVE STATS



NEXT, let's take a quick look at the defensive stats that we have access to:

CARSON KELLY, 2016

ERRORS SB AGAINST ATTEMPTS CS% PASSED BALLS INNINGS CAUGHT

1 8 10 20% 2 91


ANDREW KNIZNER, 2017

ERRORS SB AGAINST ATTEMPTS CS% PASSED BALLS INNINGS CAUGHT

1 2 5 60% 3 52.2


Well, that's interesting.


It's worth noting that 5 of the 8 successful stolen bases off of Kelly came while former Twins farmhand Chris Anderson was on the bump. As a matter of fact, in 16.2 IP, Anderson had 8 bases stolen off of him. So, in this case, there's something there to prove that Anderson had more to do with those successful attempts than Kelly did. Still, it's was a bit puzzling because of how revered his arm is.





It's also worth noting that Knizner's one error came while he was playing first base. Kelly's came while behind the plate. The individual error for both of Knizner and Kelly were throwing errors.


.With Knizner, you see that he flashed his plus arm behind the plate. He does have a cannon that is backed up by the fact that he threw out about 45% of base stealers during the 2017 minor league season.



The one glaring concern about his game entering 2017 was passed balls, but he cut that number down from 9 over 174.1 innings behind the plate in 2016 after being drafted to 3 passed balls over 665 innings in 2017. It's a bit alarming to see the 3 passed balls in such a small amount of AFL innings, but it's not worth gettinga alarmed about. That's the way that these type of leagues work sometimes.


There are so many things to like about these two players. They profile pretty similarly enough at the plate right now. It might even seem like they are interchangeable at this juncture. Andrew Knizner's arm, his approach at the plate, and the strides that he's made defensively as a catcher have been nothing short of astounding in the short period of time that he's been behind the plate. It's a testament to how hard of a worker he is that his numbers are so close to Kelly's.


What a great situation for the Cardinals to be in!


Thanks For Reading!

Kyle Reis

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