Stumping for Geovany Soto
Lately, Rob has been alienating readers with his as-I-see-them take on Geovany Soto's performance in 2009. Rob has suggested that Geo has slacked off, gotten fatter, and rested on his laurels rather than step up and continue to improve his game. But I'm not sure I agree.
This isn't meant to be an excuse-fest in Soto's name, but I would like to respectfully suggest a couple of ideas. First -- Soto's power production has indeed been down, but since his crappy April start he's actually been hitting the ball.
On May 1st, Geo was batting .109 on the season and looking awkward. But for the next month he'd be a consistent singles hitter. He batted .278 in May and had an OBP of .376. My theory at the time was that Geo's sore shoulder -- which had almost landed him on the DL at the start of the season -- was robbing him of his power and like the smart, young hitter he is he adjusted his game. But I'm probably wrong about that.
A few days ago on his blog, Bob Brenley noted that Geovany has been holding his bat awkwardly. When he's swung to make contact his left hand has often been rolling off the bat -- or detached from the shaft all together. In other words, it might not be a shoulder deal, it may be a mechanical issue.
Regardless, it doesn't look like Soto is a .290/20/90 hitter this season. If he finishes the year even batting .270ish with 12 or more homeruns it will be an accomplishment. But while the regression is both disappointing and predictable (he's a Cubs catcher, after all) it isn't necessarily because of a lack of effort.
And anyway, if Geo can bat around .280 with around a .380 OBP for the rest of the year, not only will I be happy but he'll finish with a .261 AVG and an OBP of .363. Inject some power into those totals and it's a good year for almost any catcher -- and it's an indication that 2010 might be a better year for Geo.