by Mike DePilla
I don't think Carlos Quentin needs anyone else to pile on as he contemplates ritual seppuku over his prolonged slump.
Jim from Sox Machine points out how previous whipping boys Andruw Jones (the last two years), Alex Rios (in '09) and Juan Pierre (in April) have turned things around recently for the Sox. Yet Quentin struggles.
Other observers have pointed to Quentin's absurdly-low BABIP of .180, suggesting he has been unlucky and that the hits will start falling soon. Backing that theory up, his LD% and K% are just a tick worse than his career averages, and his walk rate is actually up, which I found surprising.
However his infield fly ball % is up more than four points than his previous two seasons, and infield pop ups are not going to magically start falling for hits with a little luck.
Hitting coach Greg Walker, who yesterday said he doesn't know what the team's batting average is, has noticed that Quentin is swinging at too many pitches out of the strike zone. His O-Swing % (percentage of pitches he swings at outside the strike zone) is only up 1.7% from his career averages, but it sure seems like he is more tempted by sliders in the dirt than he ever was in the past.
So he's walking more...and also swinging at more pitches out of the zone? Welcome to the contradiction that is 2010 Carlos Quentin.
Warning, slight tangent in the next graf-
Off topic -->
Walker also astutely observed that Quentin's "swing is set up to swing at the ball in the strike zone." So I guess Vlad Guerrero he is not. And while I'm on Walker, he says the details don't matter and the only important stat is winning games, before saying he's encouraged because the offense has done some "neat things" and "the only thing we haven't done is we haven't got enough singles." So I don't know how he explains the team's 14-20 record.
Read his quotes in these articles in the Tribune, Sun-Times and mlb.com. All that's left is for me to hear that he twice tried to microwave a ding dong while it was still in its foil.
...OK, I'm back.
The bottom line is Quentin needs to turn it around, because the Sox have no alternatives. And I think he will, once he stops trying to hit every pitch 500 feet down the line and over the foul pole in left field. I really miss that compact swing he had in 2008. How can we get that back?
It's a shame too, because with Pierre finally starting to get on base, the Sox would have a truly formidable middle of the order with Jones-Konerko-Rios-Quentin producing at 3 though 6. It would be just as frustrating if Quentin regains his form in two months... only to find the Sox 12 games out in the Central, Jones on the DL and Konerko in a slump. Everything has to come together soon.
As for potential replacements if he doesn't get it back, Mark Kotsay is obviously not the answer, though maybe I shouldn't use the word "obviously" there since it's not so clear for those making baseball decisions with the Sox.
I know they don't want to hear about Jermaine Dye, but couldn't he give you more production right now than Kotsay?
At what point does Dye's not-being-lefthanded get trumped by Kotsay's not-being-good?
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