Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What's the problem? An investigation

There has been much discussion lately about Juan Pierre's hitting flyballs. I've been on his case for it, too. Today, Baseball Prospectus gets on board.

If you've been following along, there's not much reason to click the link, except to serve as a reminder that Dodger Stadium -- "cavernous Dodger Stadium" -- is friendly to the home run, but not so much to the double and the triple.

Juan Pierre doesn't his home runs, but over his career, he HAS hit doubles and triples. 32 and 13 last year. 19 and 13 in '05. 22 and 12 the year before. Always with a not-quite handful of home runs: 3, 2, and 3, the last three years.

This year, he's on pace to be just off his career numbers in hits, and one possible interpretation is that he's simply not getting the doubles and triples he usually gets -- Dodger Stadium is eating them up. If one were to imagine he played in a ballpark more friendly to extra base hits... take eight of his outs and make them 5 doubles and 3 triples... and all of a sudden, he looks OK. .311 BA, .339 OBP, .396 SLG. (I'm not too sure about my math and will stand corrected if someone writes in with better numbers.) That's right around his career averages.... a little above, from the SLG, but small sample size etc.

So the questions become:

1) Is it possible that a stadium can sap a player of three-quarters of his power?
2) If so, is Juan Pierre just that horribly suited to Dodger Stadium?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I will:

1) Continue to root for Juan Pierre to embarrass me and force me to rip down this blog in shame; and
2) Continue to be horribly disappointed by his performance and call him out for it.


Andrew Shimmin said...

I have a very strong urge to call Pierre an asshole for getting picked off.


A triple and a double, and then you have to screw it up? Asshole.

Humma Kavula said...

There is no rule 1 on the OutWatch. There is no "thank you for not" on the OutWatch.

You may call anybody anything you like. (I believe that 71and91 will take this opportunity to call me names, and he is welcome to do so.)

A triple and a double and then he screws it up. Asshole, indeed.

jimbilly4 said...

Wow, Shimmim beat me to it.

Not the Asshole comment, necessarily, but just the amazment that Pierre could take what so far is a great game and taint it.

He is just really good at making outs.

jimbilly4 said...

As to the actual subject of this post...

I read somewhere (DT, most likely) that Pierre's career bunt-for-hit % is close to 40%, while his success this year is more like 20%. I haven't been counting every bunt, but I bet that makes up a bigger hunk of his hit deficit that the "missing doubles".

Clearly that doesn't account for isolated power deficits. But if one wondered why he bunts so much if he gets out 80% of the time, it may be that he didn't use to. Obviously he can't just bunt every time or else he would never approach a 40% rate. He has to bunt to surprise or when the positioning is in his favor. Maybe out of desperation he is trying to bunt too much?

Of course the desperation may be a result of trying to hit ground balls but putting them in the air instead. My guess is that he is really messing with his swing trying to find "his" swing, the groundball one. Just hit it hard Pierre and I bet eventually the F/G ratio will take care of itself.

Humma Kavula said...

Your guess is as good as mine. Just positing a guess that I didn't think I'd seen anywhere else: that the difference between his usual awful self and the complete disaster we've seen so far this year might have been simply luck or a result of being horribly mismatched for his stadium.

Today's game, of course, proves nothing. It is nice to see. It would have been nicer without the pickoff, but what can you do? The man does not have an unambiguously great game in him.

jimbilly4 said...

Hmm... Triple, Double, Double, Double.

CS or no, I think that might be unambiguosly good.

Humma Kavula said...

I believe you are right. I will take it back and call this game "unambiguously good," even if he doesn't hit for the cycle.

9 total bases is his career high.

shidoin said...

For the edification of my fellow outwatchers, I went back and counted up the number of bunts our man Juan has made this year. 30. (I included 2 that may have been pop ups to pitcher) with 8 for hits, 18 for outs (inc. the 2 qestionable PU's) 2 sacrifices; (Don't get me started...) and 2 squeezes. These are not numbers that should encourage more bunting attempts!

I was suprised it was only 30. It seems like every time I see him, he's attempting to bunt.