Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Desmond Downer

Congratulations on the birth of your son, Ian. Hope you have enough joy to carry you through the long bus rides up in Syracuse.

As I've written before, Desmond's 2010 was really disappointing from a developmental perspective. He was every bit as error-prone as he'd been in the minors, and his strikeout rate rose while his walk rate fell, compared to his 21-game audition in 2009.

This year, he's gotten worse. Much worse, actually, putting up a blech .205 / .253 / .333 line while committing 7 (!) errors already, tied for the most in baseball with Starlin Castro, who is hitting .357 / .382 / .480, thank you very much.

It's not hard to see what pitchers are doing to him. In that white-hot September 2009, he saw 77.1% fastballs. Then last year he saw just 56.8% fastballs, a really low number. This year, pitchers have continued to feed him a diet of breaking pitches and off-speed stuff, and he hasn't been able to adjust and show he can hit or lay off enough of them to make the pitchers pay.

While he's not walking much--just 6.0% of the time this year, which is actually an improvement from the awful 4.9% walk rate last year--he's taking a lot of pitches. He's swinging at just 44.4% of the pitches he sees, and 59.5% in the zone, making him one of the more passive hitters in the game against pitches in the zone. He's also swinging at just 22% of first pitches, down from 32% last year and 29% in 2009. All this adds up to a lot of pitchers' counts. He's seen just three 3-1 counts, five 2-0 counts, and one 3-0 count all year. And it means he's not getting a lot of pitches to hit.

Maybe it'll help him to get out of the leadoff spot. If that caused him to change his approach, when he was already struggling, then that probably wasn't helpful.

But I don't think the problem is his spot in the batting order. I think Desmond just hasn't taken the developmental steps needed to show he can be a starting major league shortstop. And with the errors continuing to pile up, he's just not doing enough to justify letting him work out the kinks in the majors. I'm not saying they should give up on him forever. But he should be in the minors now.

Of course they don't have anyone else to play the position. I guess their best option would be to slid Espinosa over and play Cora or Hairston every day at second. But that shouldn't be a reason to keep Ian in DC.

Oh well, look on the bright side, Ian. You won't have too much trouble getting playing time from this guy.


logan said...

Anonymous said...

We're on Giggleman's Isle a place where
pathetic Cora plays SS instead of Espinosa
At Shortstop his natural position? Where
Pudge still gets starts over Ramos as well?

Rizzo's veteran bench ap study in AAA futility.