What is wrong with Geovany Soto?

I am not a proponent the old baseball cliche "hitting is contagious", however anyone who has seen the last roadtrip where the cubs scored 5 runs in 6 games, it's hard to overlook the team-wide hitting slump. The person i'm most disappointed with is Geovany Soto, because he has shown himself to be an all-star caliber player with excellent offensive skills for a catcher. However, he is currently sitting at the mendoza line with a single home run and single digit runs and RBIs. So what is wrong with Soto?

Some people want to blame the WBC. Firstly, Soto never had a full spring training, due to his obligation to the Puerto Rican national team, where he was benched most of the time for Ivan Rodriguez. Secondly, when he did arive to the Cubs, he had a severe shoulder injuriy that sidelined him for another 3 weeks. Whether the injury was due to the WBC is debateable, but surely is partly responsible to the slow start Soto has had behind the plate. Other people will blame his weight on teh struggles. Soto is a pretty heafty individual and this year appears to be even heavier. Finally, the only other explination is that Soto had a fluke year last year, and is actually an older prospect who is only average offensively.

However, looking at Soto's advanced statistics on fangraphs.com, I see no reason that Soto shouldn't rebound to his 2008 form and have another productive offensive season. Nearly all of Soto's stats are identicle to last year, except for the extremely low batting average and slugging percentage. One of the main reasons to explain this the great disparity between the BABIP from this year and last. Last year it was .338, much higher than major league average, but sustainable due to his 20% line drive percentage. This year the value has dropped to a meager .266 despite an equivalent 20% line drive percentage. Clearly Soto has been getting quite unlucky in terms of batting average, however it still does not explain the decreased slugging percentage which sits at .066, which is lower than David Eckstein for reference. The problem is the 3% HR/FB rate he has this year. Just like Edwin Jackson cannot sustain a 3% HR rate, neither can Soto, given that it is nearly 5 times lower this year than last. His spike in infield fly balls will eventually turn into deep fly balls, prefereably over the fence, and Soto will regain his status as a top 5 offensive catchers in baseball.

"And that is why I am better than everyone in the world. The motherfucking end"


David "MVP" Eckstein said...

1) Fuck there are a lot of spelling/grammar errors in this post
2) Soto was not a fluke. If you check out his PECOTA card (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/pecota/sotoge01.php) -- catchers cards are free this season -- you will notice a few things:
a) A 23% breakout rate (does 20% better than last season) and 63% improve rate against a 16% collapse (20% decrease in stats). Basically, the numbers indicate that, if healthy, Geo should have likely improved upon last seasons numbers. His low 11% attrition rate (likelihood of a 50% decrease in playing time based on injury or poor performance) shows a lot of confidence in Geo's ability to stay healthy based on his offensive/defensive mechanics, body type, amount of wear and tear and other factors.

This brings me to the following conclusion: Geovanny Soto is likely still dealing with the shoulder injury from the beginning of the season. It would explain why he is having problems driving the ball and hitting for power.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Also, as I corrected myself in the podcast last night, Jackson's HR/FB rate is an unsustainably low 6% -- not 3%

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

oh yes, and good insight, btw. Soto's just been getting unlucky. His LD have all been right at players, which is sad