Where We Stand, And Who's To Blame (Offense)

I plan to follow this up with a look at defense and pitching, but for now, hitting (or lack-thereof) will suffice. So, to get a better grasp of exactly what is happening to our team, and why it's happening, I decided to look at some key stats, see where they rank us out of AL only teams (context ftw) and then see which one of our guys is doing the most to make this a strength or weakness on our team.

The stat: BB%

Our score: 7.7% (T-10)

The Offender: Rajai Davis (0.0% in 62 PA)

Well, we need to give credit to JPA for sporting a 2.1% BB rate in 1.5 times as many plate appearances. Unlike JPA, Davis is just a mess at the plate right now. A solid BABIP props up an empty batting line, but the issues here run deeper. Plate discipline stats are some of the first to stabilize, and Davis is hacking away at 49.4% of the pitches he sees outside of the strike zone (a career high). Though he appears to be making a lot of contact, pitchers are going right after him, throwing him a career high rate of strikes, and he's falling behind early and often, letting 77.4% of first pitches go for strikes. Taking no walks at all, and striking out at the highest rate of his career, has caused Davis to be a true momentum killer. He can't be a regular part of a successful lineup at this stage of his career. It appears as if any situation that forces him to play the field or bat against RHPs causes him to display a talent well below replacement level on both sides of the ball.

On the flip side, Adam Lind's little walk crusade is like a revelation. If he keeps it up, that would go a long way to curing our on-base woes.

The stat: K%

Our score: 21.4% (T-10)

The Offender: Colby Rasmus (43.4% in 83 PA)

As Fangraphs already has a good little bit up on Colby's season, there's not much more to be said. While he's not chasing too many balls out of the zone, he's also just daydreaming as balls tumble past him down the very heart of the plate. When he does decide to go out on a limb and swing at a strike, there's an unreasonably good chance that he will miss the ball anyway. It's even worse when he does go after a pitch outside: it's nearly a certainty he won't even be able to foul it off. His true talent looks to be somewhere around replacement level with these discipline stats, so expect a drastic regression to well below the mean.

The stat: ISO%

Our score: .174 (3rd!)

The Hero: Jose Bautista (.333)

ISO is an overrated stat. It's the only thing we can cling to though, so it must be included. Don't look too closely at the ISO leader board though, the two teams above us are Cleveland and New York....

The stat: wRC+

Our score: 90 (14th)

The Offender: Maicer Izturis (39)

I'm going to exclude Blanco due to his extremely limited number of plate appearances. Izturis, on the other hand, is 5th on the team in trips to the plate. Nobody on the team with more PAs has fewer hits. Only Melky has more PAs and fewer HRs. While maintaining the worst walk rate of his career, he's also been able to watch his groundball rate skyrocket (and he does not hit balls very hard) to a career high, and his LD% has dropped to a tie for a career worst. Izturis continues to display impressive contact rates, but all he does with it - for the most part - is dribble the ball weakly around the infield. There's little reason to suspect his BABIP will regress enough to make him a decent hitter until he can do more than pound the ball in to the dirt. Now seems as good a time as any to mention that Izturis is tied with Bautista for the team lead in GIDP, which only reinforces his characterization as a weak ground ball hitter.

When I started out, I'd hoped to find strong data supporting a regression back up towards the mean for us. While that's still very likely for some of our hitters, it looks like our worst offenders aren't displaying the sorts of skills that will allow them to contribute positive value going forward, even with a lot of luck.

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