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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

El Slumpo

There was a time in my life when I equated “streakiness” with “Brian Daubach.”  I never thought I would ever see a player who was a Major League hitter who could go through such extremes as the Dauber.  I loved him and when he was on the dude would carry the Sox for a week or two but when he was off I genuinely think I could have gotten him out.

Then I met Jackie Bradley Jr.

When this guy is slumping my grandmother could get him out and she’s been dead for two decades (and frankly wasn’t much of a pitcher in her heyday.  Made a mean lemon meringue pie though…I digress).  Anyhoot, JBJ is definitely in one of those “sweet Jesus he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat” streaks at the moment and with the Sox in a win one/lose one streak and the Yankees in a win always/lose never streak it’s a bit magnified.  My question though is how unusual is this slump and what comes next?  I jumped on the Baseball Musings Day by Day database to pull some info and not surprisingly JBJ’s track record suggests things should get going sooner than later.

I took a quick look at every 15 game stretch where JBJ had an OPS under .500 dating back to the start of 2016.  Not surprisingly there are more than a few and in those slumps he has “hit” an average of .140/.216/.198 with a K rate of 26.3%.  He has followed up those streaks (except for the few that comprise the current slump) by hitting an everage of .239/.313/.445 with a 20.7% K rate.  For a guy who is an exceptional glove at a premium position that is more than acceptable and while he’s not some grizzled vet he’s got over 2,000 MLB plate appearances and an OPS+ of 90.  Combine that fairly pedestrian figure with his defense and that’s good for about 3 WAR/162 games and given that it includes some games in 2013 and 2014 when he was clearly not ready and it is fair to say that JBJ is a guy who should be expected to perform.

But, and it’s a big ol’ but, this slump isn’t like the others.  Simply put the current slump is the worst of his career.  His .106/.160/.106 line over the last 15 games of his career is genuinely the worst of his career and the 42% K rate is similarly as bad as it has ever been.  Now it should be noted that in his previous true disaster slumps he has bounced back pretty well;

end 5/14/17 - .135/.182/.212/29.1
next 15 - .275/.403/.660/14.8

end 4/1/18 - .096/.190/.096/17.2
next 15 - .255/.293/.436/17.2

Obviously we are not dealing with a large sample here of rebounding from similar slumps.  If you want to focus on the K rate his previous worse streak was a 38.6% K rate that ended on 8/30/16 (.151/.211/.302).  He followed that up with a torrid 15 game stretch (.300/.386/.580/22.8). Right now JBJ is dealing with a disaster combination of rare contact and a low BABIP of .167 in the last 15 games.  Alex Cora has options if he wants to deploy them with Moreland 1B/JDM LF/Benintendi CF/Hanley DH if he wants to rest JBJ.  It will be interesting to see what he does.  I suspect the Terry Francona answer would have been to stick with him as he did with guys like Millar and Lugo in big slumps.  Bradley has a track record of hitting, not Ruthian hitting but competently and he has a track record of breaking out of slumps.  If you subscribe to the Billy Beane idea that you spend until Memorial Day figuring out what you have then JBJ has 23 days to prove he is the player he has been.

Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 09, 2018 at 02:11 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: May 10, 2018 at 08:27 PM (#5670348)
He is one of my favorite non-Mookie players to root for. But yeah, when he slumps he's painful to watch.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5670387)
He’s had a couple of non-injury related multiple days off in the last two years. In each case he’s come back and hit.

Like I said i n the piece. The thing that is troubling here is this slump is considerably worse than others. Expecting him to just snap out of it and rake is probably a bit too much to hope for but if he can hit .240 with the odd homer he’s still useful. The problem for him this year, as opposed to the last couple of years is that the Sox have a way to work around him. They can have a shorter leash.
   3. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 10, 2018 at 11:50 PM (#5670505)
The problem for him this year, as opposed to the last couple of years is that the Sox have a way to work around him. They can have a shorter leash.


And they did that tonight with JD in RF, Mookie in CF. Not the best defensive lineup but considering JD went 2 for 4 and hit the game winning HR, that sort of works.
   4. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 10, 2018 at 11:56 PM (#5670509)
I liked what Cora did this week playing JDM in right. The versatility of Betts and Benintendi lets them slot JDM in the least demanding spot.
   5. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 11, 2018 at 12:39 AM (#5670518)
I liked what Cora did this week playing JDM in right.


I don't watch nearly enough live baseball but Cora seems to know his stuff.

Any glaring positives or weaknesses that you can identify?
   6. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 11, 2018 at 12:51 AM (#5670523)
Nothing glaring so far. They are playing well and getting good performances from people. He seems to have a plan. His bullpen usage sometimes is a bit confounding but I’m willing to give him rope there because he’s not filled with options.

I didn’t like lifting Barnes after just one inning today. That was a situation wheee I felt he was playing into the idea of finding the guy who doesn’t have it but that’s a quibble.
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 11, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5670618)
Considering I still do not want Ramirez's option to trigger, I would much rather see Swihart get some time in LF and keep Martinez at DH. Swihart/Benintendi/Betts is still an above average outfield defensively, if Swihart can hit at all I think the drop-off from Ramirez to Swihart offensively is less than the drop-off defensively with JD in the field. Either play him or trade him, Swihart at this point seems like he is getting lost again. The organization really has not done well for him.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 11, 2018 at 10:33 AM (#5670643)
I'm not worried about triggering Ramirez' option. The dude pretty clearly needs to be motivated to play well. His career is a testament to that fact. He's motivated this year to make some money and if his option vests he'll be similarly motivated next year. I think a world where Ramirez' option vests is a world where;

-the Sox are playing well
-Ramirez is playing well

These are good things.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 11, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5670685)
-the Sox are playing well
-Ramirez is playing well

These are good things.


Agreed, but even when Ramirez is playing well, he isn't worth $22M. I guess technically if you want to value WAR at $8M/per Good-Ramirez is 3 WAR so that qualifies as 'worth it', but to put it in perspective, that's the same money as JD Martinez is getting for 75% of the WAR. I just don't think platoon 1B/DH is the best spot for that cash outlay. I would much rather the Sox go aggressively after a 3B in the off season and move Devers to 1st.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 11, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5670774)
Considering I still do not want Ramirez's option to trigger, I would much rather see Swihart get some time in LF and keep Martinez at DH.

Lots of repercussions from playing Swihart (.450 OPS) over Ramirez (.826 OPS). It might get pretty ugly if players think a team is more interested in preventing an option from vesting than fielding its best team, to say nothing of the fans reaction. Can't see any team going down that path without an arguablely legitimate reason to bench the option-eligible player.
   11. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 11, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5670816)
Lots of repercussions from playing Swihart (.450 OPS) over Ramirez (.826 OPS). It might get pretty ugly


That was nicely done, I was actually about to respond to that, but you sort of overplayed your concern with the 2ns sentence.
   12. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 11, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5670837)
Ignore the second sentence for a minute, YC is right on the former point. I don't think Swihart is a .450 OPS hitter, he's better than that, but given the fact that he hasn't really established that I'd hate to see the Sox give away too many games by having him play if he's not going to hit.

Your earlier point about the organization not doing well for him was spot on. I'll never believe that he couldn't have been a perfectly solid offense-first MLB catcher if they hadn't given up on him so soon.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 11, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5670881)
That was nicely done, I was actually about to respond to that, but you sort of overplayed your concern with the 2ns sentence.

Not sure what was overplayed. Post #7 sure seems to suggest not playing Ramirez solely to prevent his option from vesting. I don't think that would go over well in a Major League clubhouse, or among fans, and it would likely have ramifications for future contracts, so I wouldn't go down that path. I guess you disagree or you wouldn't have posted #7, but has a team ever actually done that? Especially a playoff contender? Most of the top-of-the-head cases of players not meeting the playing time threshold for vesting an option involved either injury or a player with a legitimate reason for less playing time. Am I missing someone in Ramirez's situation, which might be defined as still the best line-up choice even if his option will vest at a higher salary than he might deserve for the following year?
   14. Chip Posted: May 11, 2018 at 10:31 PM (#5671132)
JFC.
   15. Answer Guy, without side hustles. Posted: May 11, 2018 at 11:32 PM (#5671155)
Not sure what was overplayed. Post #7 sure seems to suggest not playing Ramirez solely to prevent his option from vesting. I don't think that would go over well in a Major League clubhouse, or among fans, and it would likely have ramifications for future contracts, so I wouldn't go down that path.


I could maybe see it if they were 12-26.

I imagine if they were a rebuilding team they'd probably have just eaten the contract.

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