Jose Lopez Has Been Unlucky

The lack of offensive production from Jose Lopez has easily been one of this team’s biggest problems in 2010. He hit 25 dingers last year while posting a .766 OPS, and was certainly being counted on as a source of middle of the lineup production coming into April. That plan hasn’t gone so well to this point, as now, at the beginning of July, he’s hitting .240 with 5 home runs and a .600 OPS. With such a huge drop off from a young player, you have to assume something’s changed – perhaps he’s swinging at more bad pitches, or hitting fewer line drives. However, with Jose Lopez in 2010, it isn’t so easy to explain. In fact, he’s actually swinging at fewer bad pitches (33.4% compared to 35.8% in 2009), and his line drive rate is right on par with his career average. So are his ground ball and fly ball rates.

For the most part, his 2010 numbers are right there with the numbers he put up in his successful 2009 campaign – except for ISO, BABIP, and HR/FB. Two of these stats are largely driven by luck, while ISO is largely driven by the other two. His HR/FB is at 5%, compared to 11.1% last year and a career average of 7.4%. While his 2009 figure of 11.1 was fairly luck driven, there’s still no reason he shouldn’t at least be even with his career average or 7.4. He also has a BABIP of .256, and both of those things together contribute to a career-low ISO of .089, as fewer XBH are falling, both inside and outside the fences.

Now, even if you regress both his BABIP and HR/FB to league average, he still doesn’t repeat his 2009 numbers, so I’m not saying there hasn’t been a drop-off. However, he certainly doesn’t deserve that atrocious .600 OPS, and even marginally better production up to this point could have made a significant difference to the team. That being said, if you’re still worried about him, don’t be – he probably won’t be here in 2011 anyway.

Topics: Jose Lopez, Mariners

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