After spending time in limited roles over the last two seasons, it appears that Ian Stewart has finally locked down a permanent spot at third base with the 2010 Rockies. Wednesday night was supposed to be a day off for Stewart, but he still found a way into the game. In only his 3rd pinch-hit appearance of the year, Stewart drilled a Tim Stauffer offering into the seats for what would prove to be the game-winning home run.
Last night’s home run continues what has begun as Stewart’s best major league performance as of yet. Stewart’s triple slash line of .271/.370/.482 entering Wednesday night’s game is the best line he’s posted in all of the three categories. Naturally, that means his .367 wOBA and 118 wRC+ are also currently career highs.
Right now, there aren’t any indicators that show this start to be any sort of significant fluke. His BABIP of .322 is only one hit higher than his career line of .307 – 19/59 vs. 18/59. His HR/FB is up to 22.7% after last night’s shot, but that’s only one HR higher than his 2009 rate of 18.8%.
The key so far for Stewart has been a roughly five point drop in strikeout rate, down from 32.5% and 33% career to 27.1% so far this year. That’s still a high rate, and one that will likely prevent the 25-year-old Stewart to become a superstar in this league, but the drop has allowed Stewart to increase his batting average, and more importantly, his OBP.
Throughout his professional career, the discipline has been there and the power has been there. For Stewart to make the jump to the next level, the contact has to develop. After earning a starting role for the 2010 season, it appears that Stewart is doing just that.