Like most hitters in Oakland this year, David DeJesus is not doing so well. The A’s acquired him from the Royals to give their offense a spark, but thus far he has racked up just a .229/.313/.358 line and has begun to find himself on the bench with some regularity. During interleague play, Bob Melvin has chosen to use Hideki Matsui in the outfield in lieu of playing DeJesus, a sign of just how uninterested Melvin is in using DeJesus.
That said, DeJesus is actually having a pretty standard season in many areas. In fact, take a look at his 2011 marks compared to the last two seasons:
He’s walking at the same clip he always does, striking out at the same rate, and hitting for roughly the same amount of power (especially after you take park factors into account). DeJesus doesn’t seem to have experienced a huge drop-off in his skill set, though the results have obviously been worse than he had hoped for. So, what’s been the problem?
Well, as is often the case when a guy’s batting average takes a nosedive, his BABIP is well below expected marks, but that’s not really the story here. Instead, it’s his platoon splits that are more interesting:
wRC+, vs RHPs:
wRC+, vs LHPs:
Against righties, DeJesus has been just fine, but against southpaws, he’s turned into a pumpkin. He has just 7 hits in 56 at-bats, all of them singles, and he’s only drawn a pair of walks from a LHP all year. He came into the season with a career OPS against lefties over .700, but this year it’s just .280, and has dragged his overall line into the ground with it.
The good-ish news is that most of DeJesus’ struggles against lefties could be chalked up to a crazy low .156 BABIP, and history suggests he’ll hit them well enough going forward that he won’t need to be platooned. But even if another team in the market for an outfielder this summer does think that DeJesus’ problems are real, he could be platooned and most of his 2011 struggles would be mitigated.
With a $6 million salary, impending free agency, and a pretty ugly batting line, DeJesus probably won’t be at the top of most teams wish list this summer. There are, however, plenty of reasons to think that his second half could be quite a bit better than his first half, and he still has the skills to be a nice player for a contender down the stretch.
The problem for bargain hunting GMs is that the A’s invariably know all this as well, so they might just decide to hang onto DeJesus until his bat heats up or they are 100% certain that they can’t win the mediocre AL West. Billy Beane isn’t the type of GM that will hand over a decent player because of a low BABIP against southpaws in 60 plate appearances. If Beane is still convinced that DeJesus can play, he might not be interested in entertaining low-ball offers for DeJesus, and it’s hard to see another team ponying up a good prospect for a guy who is currently struggling.
If a team can talk Oakland out of DeJesus, however, they might just find themselves with a nifty little outfielder for the stretch run, and potentially upgrade their roster without having to give up the farm to do it.
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