Elijah Dukes’ Struggles

Mired in off the field issues, Elijah Dukes’ arrival in D.C. allowed him to focus on baseball instead of the latest police blotter. Last year he was remarkably solid, hitting 13 home runs in a little under 350 plate appearances and posting a .382 wOBA. Even his defense was decent enough to nearly earn Dukes a three win season.

This year, everything has fallen apart.

His nose is shiny clean to his credit, but the baseball side of things has gone sour. Coming through the Rays system Dukes had a few major claims to fame: 1) he had the power of a bull, 2) the discipline of a monk, 3) the build of Ray Lewis, 4) Matt Kemp’s abilities mixed with Shawn Kemp’s sperm. These attributes accumulated into a corner outfielder with solid on-base and slugging percentage capabilities. So when you look at Dukes’ .258/.338/.416 line, you wonder what’s going on.

His walk rate is 10.4% which is above league average, but below what Dukes showed in the prior 500 plate appearances in the majors (~15.2%). He is striking out less, expanding his strike zone more often, and making more contact but not hitting for any power in doing so. His .158 ISO is easily a career low, and barely above league average.

Dukes is seeing an average of 3.7 pitches per plate appearance or 1,305 pitches in 352 plate appearances Prior to this season Dukes’ P/PA was 3.8. Not quite a radical shift in approach. What is a radical shift for Dukes is the amount that he’s swinging, 52.2% at this point; his career average is 46.3% including this year.

A passive hitter upon arrival, Dukes would look for a pitch to drive and if he had to take a walk, he would. He’s still taking some walks, but he’s no longer driving anything for extra bases. To be a successful major league hitter Dukes is going to have to get back to what got him here, and I don’t mean tomfoolery and hijinks.

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12 Responses to “Elijah Dukes’ Struggles”

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  1. phil says:

    oh jeez if there is one thing i never will grow weary of its shawn kemp jokes.

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  2. What is your conclusion . . . that Dukes is swinging at wilder pitches – ones out of his wheel house which would explain his power loss and lower walk rate? With so much focus on P/PA sort of stuff, too many pertinent questions are ignored. Once he was finally allowed to play in mid April, he was off to a roaring start. However, that rush didn’t last long. He was mediocre in May bothered by a hamstring and spent two weeks on the DL. He was horrible in June prompting a demotion to the minors for all of July. He did his pennace is Syracuse admirally enough earning his recall at the start of August. Dukes got hot again for the last week of August and the first week of September. Now his back has stiffened up. Did Dukes play hurt during his June slump? Backs tend to be a chronic issue, is his? Are Dukes’s problems – whatever it is – something 25 year old players adjust from? Does it require a new batting coach for that to happen? Are his meds – or the lack of them – having some effect? To really know what’s going on we need inside info as well as a statitical analysis which looks at Dukes from all angles.

    And by the way, Dukes nose wasn’t so shiny. He had a legal battle in May over his lack of child support payments and the legal fees his ex required to fight for them. Perhaps, these sorts of battles contribute to his slumps.

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  3. Brandon H says:

    Dukes, has simply shifted back to the player that he should have been. An 18% home run per fly ball rate is not something that should be expected from a player this early in his career. I think he is probably a little low right now, but that is not to say that he will jump back to 18%.

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  4. babymama#5 says:

    So i’m guessing Shawn Kemps sperm is extremely potent and overly used?

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  5. HH says:

    Dukes just needs a season where they put him in RF and give him 550 at bats come hell or high water.

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  6. Choo says:

    Travis Henry makes Shawn Kemp look like a virgin.

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  7. Geoff says:

    I watch every game.

    Here’s the problem: he’s not getting fastballs. Ever. Even in fastball counts. Instead, he get sliders in and around the plate, which he’s struggling to hit and recognize.

    Also, he’s not getting calls—thanks to showing up an umpire last year.

    That’s the low-down from a Nats fan. (Yes, they exist).

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  8. razor says:

    Geoff is right, but he’s actually walked 19 times in 120 AB’s since getting called back up. Dukes is actually a good defensive player…sort of. His error rate limits his dependability. He has to lead all of baseball in assists/inning played. His arm is fantastic. He has some speed but this year his stolen base rate is ridiculously bad. He runs the bases well but sometimes makes dubious decisions.

    Elijah Dukes has all the talent in the world. He’s just incredibly unrefined. He has tools most do not but needs to find a way to have them come out more consistently. I agree with the above statement about running him out there for 550+ PA’s and I believe the talent would surface.

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  9. HH says:

    As a Rangers fan, this guy reminds me a lot of Sammy Sosa. He couldn’t hit a breaking ball to save his life but had great tools and could really put a charge into the ball. He got called up way too soon and two organizations gave up on him because he didn’t progress fast enough.

    The Cubs finally played him and reaped all the benefits of the talent everyone knew was there. It happens over and over with guys that come up at too early of an age. They get in over their head, teams decide they don’t have the right attitude and aren’t progressing and then they finally put it altogether for someone else.

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  10. Nats Fan says:

    here is to hoping he turns around!

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