Martin Prado Has Found His Swing, But Will It Last?

USA TODAY Sports

Martin Prado didn't have it easy beginning a large part of the haul that was brought in for Justin Upton at the beginning of the year. It didn't get any easier with his slow start, but he's turned it around the last couple months. We look at the change, why it has happened, and whether this is the Prado we'll see going forward.

Don't look now, but Martin Prado has been a bright spot in an stalling offense. Oh, sure, he had a slow start to his Diamondbacks career, but he's been locked in for the past couple months. I won't go so far to say this is what we'll get from now on, but it's probably a little closer to this Prado then the weak-hitting player we saw for the first half of the season.

The difference the past couple months over the beginning of the year is shocking in its starkness. Through the first 91 games his slash line looked something like this: .253/.303/.365. Since then his line looks more like this: .354/.407/.561. His wRC+, or ability to create runs, has gone from a tepid 79 to a white hot 168.

It's with 70 less games, however, so a large degree of caution is needed. His career wRC+ is 109, so just above average, and although he's had 4 seasons with the stat above 100, it's never been higher than 123.

As for when he'll top out, that's hard to say. Over his career, he's normally had hot starts, followed by more average second halves of the seasons. His career first half/second half splits for wRC+ is 113 versus 103, so it seems like we're in unchartered territory.

If there's an area that might be move towards the mean, it's Prado's hitting versus left-handed hitters. Over his career, he's hit .290 on left-handed pitchers, and .293 on right-handed. This seasons, however, Prado has hit .322 on lefties and .255 on righties. So not only have the two flipped, but they have done so in a fair dramatic fashion.

Why? Looking at the PitchFX data of the pitching he's faced, there's no indication this will stay. There isn't any dramatic number to suggest a change in who he has faced or what he has seen. He's faced slightly fewer lefties this year than over his career (30% versus 33%), and he's slightly more fastballs (41.17% versus 39.96%). Yet his batting average on fastballs from lefties has gone from a career .289 to a .462 this year. Where there is a dramatic difference, however is in in BABIP.

BABIP, or the batting average of balls put in play, is often times used short hand for luck. That's not completely accurate, but in this case it is. Prado normally has a BABIP of .300 on fastballs by lefties. This year he's had a whopping .486 on fastballs by lefties. In other words, he's either hitting them where no one is, or they opposing defenders haven't made the plays. Either way, it's such a dramatic difference that it seems unlikely he'll sustain it for the rest of his career, let alone the rest of the year.

That's he's been a bright at all, after so many months of slog and double plays, is exciting. He might not be able to sustain the last couple months, but he's going to be fun to watch until he comes down.

All stats provided by Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball.

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