"Soto might become a decent backup, that's all." -- Al, 5/1/2007

Yes, this is another Micah Hoffpauir fanpost. 

I have no idea what the future holds for the Hoff, but I do know this:  people who say he can't or won't be an effective major league hitter based on the available evidence are just making things up.  

Such statements reminded me about the similar assessment of Geo Soto that appeared on this site in the weeks and months before his torrid September call-up in 2007 made him our catcher of the present and future.  The argument then was the same as it is for Hoff today:  through a significant part of his career arc, Soto had not shown the ability to hit; therefore, it was judged, he never would gain the ability to do so at the major league level.  Even as the evidence started to mount in the other direction with a solid campaign at AAA, these assessments proved to be stubborn.  As some fans started agitating in favor of giving the kid a chance, the responses were just as certain and dismissive as they are of Hoff today:  

*  "Soto might become a decent backup, that's all.  The Cubs' best catching prospect is Chris Robinson, the guy they got for Neifi. But he is at least two years away, maybe three."

 * "Question regarding Barrett... if the Cubs DON'T re-sign him, who's the catcher next year? And don't say Geovany Soto."  (When a commenter predictably responded with Soto and Koyie Hill, the response: "Oh, lord.").

* (In response to a suggestion from Dartmouth Cub Fan that the team use Soto instead of trading for Kendall) "Because he's a Triple-A catcher!!! I don't care what a guy hits at Iowa. Is Soto ready to be the starting catcher for a playoff contender, with as little ML experience as he has? I say no. There is more to being a winning ML catcher than a few stats on a Triple-A spreadsheet."

My point is not that people who pushed for Soto were right, so therefore the people pushing for Hoff must be right too.  Thats not my point at all.  Something about the excitement for Hoffpauir reminds me of the similar excitement once upon a time for Julio Zuleta and Hee Sop Choi.  My point is that these snap judgments some people have made about Hoffpauir not being capable of hitting at the major league level are just as much guesswork as the assessments that say he will be the next Ryan Howard (who, lets not forget, likewise debuted late at 26 and promptly won ROY, then an MVP, then a World Series ring).  The point is that we don't know what Hoffpauir will be; he can be great or a bust.  It is at the very least possible he will be a late bloomer like Howard who goes on to do great things.  Or like David Ortiz who was 28 and had played several mediocre seasons without ever topping 20 homeruns and 75 RBI when he moved to Boston and went absolutely gonzo.

So is Hoff the next Howard/Ortiz or the next Zuleta/Choi?  Who knows?  But I say the only way we'll know is if the team gives the kid a shot to see what he does with it.  In the meantime, statements like "Micah Hoffpaur is a Quadruple-A player, nothing more" sound awfully like "Soto might become a decent back-up, that is all."


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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