With just over a month to go, time is running out for offensive disappointments to get back on track and start showing the type of power projected of them before the season began. When a hitter goes through a power drought, there could be a number of explanations, such as an injury, aging effects or good ole’ random variation (read: bad luck/fluke). These five hitters have seen their ISO rates plummet the most compared to last season. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong.
|Name||2013 ISO||2012 ISO||2013 HR/FB||2012 HR/FB||ISO Diff|
Josh Hamilton‘s struggles have been well documented in his first year with the Angels. While I expected that aging and park effects would hurt his power and overall performance this year, I certainly did not expect it to look this bad. His HR/FB rate is at its lowest mark since his injury shortened 2009, and his ISO has dipped below .200 for only the second time as well. It hasn’t just been a home park thing either. His away ISO is down about 100 points from where it sat last year. Hamilton hasn’t exactly been a picture of good health throughout his career, and he has battled through various maladies this season. The park is probably one explanation, but I would bet that health is the primary factor. There are enough warts here though that he may not necessarily be a bargain in fantasy leagues next season.
Though Nick Markakis is suffering from what appears to be a terrible power outage, his appearance above is really mostly due to the spike he enjoyed last year. Obviously, a .084 ISO is miserable, but it’s not completely out of line with previous marks of .122 and .138. At one point, Markakis was a doubles machine, but even that skill has evaporated. There hasn’t been a peep about anything injury related since spring training when he was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck. Could that be our explanation? It sounds like that would hurt, but it’s hard to understand how a neck injury would affect a hitter’s swing and power.
Jimmy Rollins‘s appearance on this list is similar to Markakis’ in that he also experienced a power rebound last year that is magnifying his decline this season (you could argue that Hamilton is also in this boat, but change “rebound” to “surge”). Rollins, though, is 34 and it would be easy to blame his drop-off on aging effects. He’s swinging and missing more often than ever before, with a SwStk% at its highest since way back in 2004. His speed has also seemingly dropped off the table, as he has posted a career low Spd score. The only injury news during the season has been a sore hip, which apparently affected him in early-to-mid June. His days of all-around contributions from a shallow shortstop position could very well be over.
We could blame Chase Headley‘s missing power on his spring training thumb injury or a return to reality after last year’s surprising power explosion. Initially, I thought that perhaps he was pulling the ball less often, which was cited as the reason behind last year’s surge. However, he has actually pulled the ball more often this year as a left-handed batter. His pull percentage sits at 52%, versus 48% last season. With the shorter fences at PETCO, you would think the additional pulled balls would help him get close to last year’s power production. Of course, his batted ball distance is down, so that’s most important, whether he’s pulling the ball or not. Maybe it’s as simple as last year was just a career year and oddities like that happen.
Paul Konerko‘s case is probably the easiest one to investigate. He’s 37 years old and has battled back issues throughout the year that did eventually land him on the disabled list. While it’s unlikely that his age alone is the culprit for such a drastic drop in power, the age combined with the back likely is. If he does return next year, it would be difficult to imagine a return to form.
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