Friday, December 21, 2012

Stubbs' Struggles

Drew Stubbs is a very intriguing player. Since making his Major League debut in August of 2009, his career has been one of little highs and many lows. But with so much potential, why has he under-achieved so much?

First, looking at his home and away splits, it is evident that he benefited from an offensive friendly park in Cincinnati, Ohio. At home, Stubbs’ on-base percentage rose 39 points and his slugging percentage increased 104 points in Great American Ballpark. Essentially, he was an above average player at home, but a Larry Bowa – offensively - on the road.

His new park, Progressive Field, tends to suppress any offense coming from right-handed batters. In Cincinnati, right-handed hitters have the advantage. Using the Park Factors from Stat Corner, the Indians could expect a 23% reduction in homers at home for Stubbs. In his career, Stubbs has averaged about nine homers at home. As a result, he could lose up to two homers from just switching home parks next season.

Aside from the parks, he has a history of struggling against right-handers, which make up 75% of the pitching in Major League Baseball. In his career, Stubbs has posted a .301 on-base percentage and a .355 slugging in 1,491 plate appearances. On the other hand, he’s phenomenal against left-handers: .344 on-base and a .476 slugging percentage in 513 career plate appearances. 

And finally, to the more revealing: advanced and batted ball statistics. Over the last three seasons, his strikeout rate has climbed from 28.8% to 30.5%, while his walk rate has dropped from 9.4% to a lousy 7.7%. Those are alarming trends. But he’s also hitting less line-drives and more ground balls than ever before, too. According to Fangraphs, line-drives create 1.26 runs per out, while fly balls produce 0.13 runs per out and ground-balls only produce 0.05 runs per out. 

In the end, will the change of parks help? I don't know, but the numbers do not suggest so.  An increase in his contact rate and perhaps a spike in his line-drive rate would do wonders for his career.