It’s obviously a terribly small sample, but his 12 homers this season have gone an average of 409 feet, with a speed off bat of 104.5.
In 2009, those numbers were 404.5 and 104.2.
Certainly, he could just be killing mistakes this season and has truly lost enough bat speed to account for the drops in BABIP across all hit type, but I’m inclined to believe that he’s been unlucky and isn’t quite done.
It’ll be interesting to see if the cubs can do something smart, like re-sign lee for a good bargain price. Nah, they will probably let Lee walk, and overpay some other 1B free agent coming off a big year.
I am better than Derek Lee. Write more about me!!!!
Comment by Brennan Boesch — August 10, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Odds are not Konerko. The Cubs are looking for a left handed guy at that position. If the Cubs are going to try to make a big splash (I hope they don’t) they’ll enter the bidding for Dunn. I think it’s more likely they go for Pena, or potentially for someone even cheaper that they can get on a one year deal like Adam LaRoche.
To marry stats with scouting for a moment, I think Lee’s drop-off is real and permanent. Anecdotally, he’s just not swinging the bat as well. It seems rooted in the accumulating injuries: I see lacking balance in his swing, a result of back problems that nag more than he lets on, that I firmly believe has robbed him of his power most of the time.
As a result, he has tinkered with his swing this season to be more line drive-oriented (a common tack for struggling players under Rudy Jaramillo’s tutelage), but that has not been enough to combat the loss of his power due to slowing wrists and a balky core. Sad to say it, but I think D-Lee has come to the end of his rope, at least as a full-tiem Major-League player.
As a platoon first baseman, perhaps he could rest those injuries more and (as a result) swing harder and better when he is in the lineup. Given the bumper crop of first basemen hitting the market after 2011, Chicago might be wise to bring him back on a one-year deal if possible, and platoon him with lefty-swinging Tyler Colvin, Micah Hoffpauir or Bryan LaHair.
Comment by Matt Trueblood — August 10, 2010 @ 6:29 pm
Jim Thome nods, proudly acknowledging his illegitimate baseball son.
Having watched a lot of Cubs baseball this year, Derrek Lee is simply a 34-year-old baseball player.
His ground ball batting average is lower because he’s lost a ton of foot speed. He simply can’t beat out deep grounders like he used to. This is corroborated by his career-low 3.3 IFH%, compared to 5.6% career and 6.7% in 2009.
His ball percentage (balls/total pitches) is at 39.5%, the first time it’s been under 40% since the stat has been available. Compare this to his swing rates. His O-Swing% has consistently risen each year since 2004, now reaching an unacceptably high 24.3%, a full 2.8% higher than last year. Meanwhile, he’s swinging at strikes 2% less often than in 2009 and 2.5% below his career rate [using career here as shorthand for 2002-present available stats]. His Z-Contact% is higher than in years past (86.7% in 2010, 85.2% in 2009), but his O-Contact% has shot up to 66.3% from 2009’s 60.5% and a 2002-present total of 51.1%.
That could mean a few things. But having seen enough of his 464 plate appearances this year, I can tell you that the major meaning is that he’s expanding his zone and hitting pitcher’s pitches into easy outs. Weak grounders, soft line drives, lazy fly balls. He’s been getting himself out.
He seems unable to catch up to quality fastballs. I’d be interested in seeing how many pitches 94+ mph he’s even tipped this year. Maybe there’s a fountain of youth for him on the West Coast. But he looks old in a way that neither the Soriano of 2009 did nor the 2010 Ramirez does.
Re-signing Lee at a lower price doesn’t help them get younger, unless you want to make the “veteran clubhouse leadership” argument. But even if you do, that’s what Marlon Byrd and Ryan Dempster are there for. Ramirez, Soriano, Byrd, and Soto are the middle of the order, 3-6, in 2011, not to mention Colvin.
Derrek Lee is a poor gamble for next year. Is his ceiling really another 35 HR/.400 wOBA season? Probably not; maybe 20 HR and .360 wOBA. Is his floor another .240/.330/.390 season? Yup. Can’t you guarantee yourself that bare-minimum production with the chance of the modest ceiling from a farmhand like Hoffpauir, LaHair, Russ Canzler, Matt Spencer, or Marquez Smith – all at the low, low cost of $400,000 or so? Or maybe Colvin moves in to 1B, with Brett Jackson or Ty Wright ready ahead of schedule for RF?
If they aren’t going to compete with STL or CIN in 2011, why waste the money? Pocket it for the long-term, and think to 2012, when STL will have half of its payroll tied up in their 1B and LF, and Cincy will have a lot of salary decisions to start thinking about. The smartest thing the Cubs can do this off-season is chase Cliff Lee, and then close the checkbook whether they get him or not. They have 9 rookies on the roster right now. Let the youth movement play out.
The cubs have 104 million tied up in 8 players for next year with new ownership looking to pair down salary, not add. There is no chance theyre ponying up for dunn, konerko , or most certainly cliff lee this teams window has slammed shut, locked, and boarded up.
Looks like Lee is about to be shipped off to Atlanta, according to reports. Lee is a 10 & 5 guy and can veto the trade (as he did to the Angels in July), but he is expected to OK a deal to ATL since ATL leads their division and gives him a shot at another WS.