This week, our staff is going to run a series of posts entitled “What’s Wrong With…”, where we explore the reasons why so many notable players are off to horrific starts in 2011. We understand that one month of data constitutes a small sample size, and that patience will be rewarded in several of these instances, but there are so many high profile players who are struggling that we felt it was worthwhile to explore the reasons why. Today, we start things off with the Cubs new first baseman, who isn’t exactly introducing himself to Chicago the way he would have liked.
The left-handed power bat of Carlos Pena and the friendly confines of Wrigley Field seemed like a perfect marriage on paper. From 2007 to 2010, Pena averaged 36 home runs per season. His 144 bombs over that time frame ranked second in the American League to Alex Rodriguez (149). Moving to Wrigley Field — a stadium that has been a home run haven for left-handed batters — seemed like a great place for Pena to rebound after hitting .196/.325/.407 in 2010.
Although Pena’s slash line was rather ugly, he still displayed some good power. He hit 28 home runs as part of his 46 extra-base hits. His .211 ISO was the lowest of any season he spent with Tampa Bay, but still above the league average of .145.
You could argue the case for some bad mojo in his batting average. His .222 BABIP was the second lowest in the majors behind Aaron Hill (.196). According to Eno Sarris’ calculations, Pena’s xBABIP was .301. I’m sure, however, there was some bad luck involved along the way, but the slow-footed Pena did not help himself with a 44.5% GB rate either. In addition to the groundball rate, opposing managers continue to over-shift on Pena which takes away some base hits.
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