Carlos Peguero and Foul Balls


Yesterday Geoff Baker wrote

"Peguero is indeed frustrating because he seems to strike out every time up. But on those few occasions when he actually makes contact, look out. Those foul balls of his are menacing — and I’m not saying that as a wisecrack. Talk to any scout who watches those foul ball line drives to right field and their eyes light up. Those aren’t the foul balls of just any scrub prospect being run out there to save the team a few bucks (which, let’s face it, is indeed a byproduct of running Peguero out there).No, they are the foul balls of a potential 30-homer guy.All the team has to do is find a way for Peguero to consistently put his bat on the ball and hit something into fair territory. Again, it sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. If you’re sitting there wondering why the team is bothering with Peguero, that’s the reason.Somebody upstairs and probably a few folks down at field level truly believes Peguero is not too far away from hitting more fair balls than he currently does. And that, if the switch is flipped this year, he could be a starting left fielder come 2012."

I don’t entirely disagree with Baker’s article. While a lot of people use specific adjectives  such suck, awful, horrible, terrible, disgusting, blinding and more, I’m a little more inclined to say that he’s just over matched at this point. Sure it’s basically the same and I’ve been guilty of using one or more of those cruel adjectives to describe a particular at bat.

But Baker is right Peguero, much like Halman, has put together some decent at bats regardless of the actual results and while I completely laugh at the notion that you “don’t want to throw away another David Ortiz” the idea is in the right place.

Ortiz was a different situation and while he was apart of another failed trade (Dave Hollins), I’ve never held that trade with the same disdane or frustration of many others. It’s not like he was a key piece for the Twins. He certainly showed promise but they were quick too quick to send him to Boston.

Back to Peguero it’s easy to say well if he didn’t hit so many foul balls and he straighted them up he could be a 30+ home run guy and I understand that’s not entirely what Geoff was talking about in his article. But, we can all see that he hits the ball extremely hard and while he needs more playing time it should be in the minor leagues.

He just swings and misses a lot. In fact if you were to look at the leader boards for all hitters with a minimum of 100 PAs he is the leader with 20.1%. League average currently rests at 8.5%. This is a huge problem. Peguero is currently striking out over 36% of his at bats and as such it kills his overall production.

In an exercise to see what type of player Peguero would need to become here is a list of guys that have had over 2 WAR in a season while striking out over 35% in a given year. (min: 400 PA).

Mark Reynolds2.342.3%
Jack Cust2.336.4%
Adam Dunn3.535.7%
Mark Reynolds3.538.6%
Kelly Shoppach3.337.8%
Jack Cust2.541.5%
Ryan Howard3.737.6%
Jose Hernandez4.935.8%
Jim Thome5.535.2%

Those are some interesting names. But they also provide something else besides just home runs. Walks. Each name up there walks above league average. They find other ways to get on base. Maybe part of that is because pitchers pitch around them.

Yet, when I look at guys in their rookies seasons over the last fifty years and sorting by strike out percentage we get the following.

Dave NicholsonOrioles20213.4 %43.9 %0.1910.2390.29278-2-0.1
Brad EldredPirates2086.3 %40.5 %0.2370.2910.31388-7.4-0.6
Bo JacksonRoyals5257.0 %40.2 %0.2030.3260.31791-14-0.5
Gorman ThomasBrewers1728.1 %39.4 %0.0970.2930.242453-0.4
Dean PalmerRangers3249.9 %38.3 %0.2090.2270.29581-14-1
Jordan SchaferBraves19513.8 %37.7 %0.0840.3110.27361-4-0.8
Mike SchmidtPhillies48313.9 %37.7 %0.170.2550.3239652.6
Kyle BlanksPadres17210.5 %37.2 %0.2640.3250.372135-1.30.9
Carlos PegueroMariners1484.7 %36.5 %0.1820.2440.26264-1.7-0.4

Yeah, there are a few guys on that list that went on and had good careers such as Gorman Thomas and Dean Palmer. The jury is still out on Schafer and Blanks. Not to mention Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt is in the top-5 of best third basemens of all time on that list. But, all of these guys… ALL OF THEM, started off their career walking more often than Peguero.

If Carlos Peguero wants to be a major leaguer it’s not about the foul balls he has hit, it’s all about doing one of two things. Either start making more or start walking more. It’s just that simple.