FanPost

What happened to Miguel Montero?


Just wanted to take a quick look at some of the saber-metrics involved with Miggy's offense and try to isolate the root cause of all of his offensive struggles so far in 2013. Obviously, I'm not Bill James (or shoewizard) so feel free to throw stones at me if my analysis is off base. Looking at some of the numbers below, I think there are some visible trends that are worth noting.

For starter's, let's look at Miggy's numbers through the first 39 games (not including today's matinee) and compare that with his career. Is it common for him to struggle early in the season?

Year BA OBP SLG OPS HR BB:K
2013 .184 .281 .265 .546 3 19:30
2012 .248 .342 .333 .675 2 17:40
2011 .258 .349 .430 .779 4 15:23
2010 .308 .369 .469 .837 4 15:29
2009 .228 .347 .356 .704 2 17:23
2008 .245 .336 .316 .653 0 14:25
2007 .204 .270 .357 .627 4 9:16
Career .239 .327 .360 .688

So short answer, yes. Miggy has traditionally been off to a slow start throughout the majority of his career. Save for an impressive 2010 and a decent 2011 and it's not an uncommon theme to see him struggle early in the season. It is interesting that the number of strikeouts has jumped in recent years. That may be a symptom of Montero pressing harder to get out of the slump. Still, it begs the question - why is this season is so abnormal? What the eff happened? Let's look at batted ball and advanced batting and see what we find:

Year BABIP BB% K% LD% GB% FB% IFFB%
2013 .206 11.9% 18.8% 16.4% 50% 33.6% 2.7%
Career .311 9.6% 19.3% 19.8% 41.8% 38.5% 8.1%

Lots to talks abouts heres. Montero's BABIP is obviously due for some positive regression but that won't start happening until his GB% goes down. A player's BABIP won't look very good if he is consistently hitting ground balls at infielders. Miggy isn't walking as much which could be a side affect of his slump as opposing pitcher's are more willing to attack the zone to a guy hitting below the Uecker line. He is striking out at a normal rate despite having a higher K total early in the season than in the past. It's the last four stats that are probably the most telling. Miggy is having trouble getting under the ball. He's grounding out more and hitting fewer line drives and fly balls. His infield fly percentage is even down, which is good, but highlights the fact that Miggy isn't getting many swings that put a ball in the air.

So how are opposing pitcher's responding to this? Is Miggy seeing an unusual amount of off-speed pitches? Why would he suddenly be struggling to hit? Let's look at pitch selections:

Year FB% SL% CT% CB% CH% Other
2013 59.1% 13.8% 6.0% 8.6% 11.8% 2.9%
Career 59.9% 13.3% 4.2% 9.4% 11.1% 4.0%

It's probably a stretch to say that Miggy has been pitched much differently now than he has been in the past. You have to account for small percentage changes year over year because he faces different sets of pitcher's with different repertoires each season. That being said, Miggy is currently seeing more cutters and less breaking balls than he has throughout his career. No red flags that would correspond with any of his recent struggles, though.

The Dreaded Thumb Injury:


It's always worth bringing up injuries when a player is struggling. Miggy was sidelined for over a week in Spring Training this year for what was considered an "unidentified thumb injury". They drained puss from it, they called it a splinter, they said it wasn't a splinter, it was all very covert. In the end, Montero eventually came back to finish Spring Training without much of an issue, hitting .324/.325/.405 over 37 at-bats. Could the thumb injury be lingering or acting up again? Possibly but if it is, no one is saying anything about it.

So what does this all mean? Welp, I don't know, quit asking. It's obvious that Miggy needs to adjust his mechanics because he's not lifting the ball like he used to. Whether it's related to an unidentified injury or if Miggy needs to spend some time in the batting cage, hopefully it gets fixed soon. Something needs to change.

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