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Chad the Bad?

One of the major disappointments of the Arizona Diamondbacks' season has been the steep drop-off in production from third-baseman Chad Tracy. Here's a comparison of his current statistics, with those from a year ago today:

       BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  AB  2B  HR RBI   K  BB
2005 .295 .349 .530 .879 343  25  18  46  51  25
2006 .278 .337 .445 .782 454  31  15  64 104  39

He's walking at about the same rate, and his RBI numbers have increased a bit because he's now hitting in the clean-up spot rather at #2 or #6, as he was batting for much of last year. The strikeouts are the most obvious change: last year, he fanned about once every seven at-bats; this year it's about every 4.5. Normally, this would indicate he's "swinging for the fences", but going by results so far, Tracy is less trading contact for power, than trading it for a pack of baseball cards and a Transformer action figure.

Tracy is playing more often, with at-bats up over 30% on last year, and an increased exposure to left-handers is a large part of the reason. In 2005, only 18% of his at-bats came against southpaws; this year, that has almost doubled, to 35%. Is that skewing his statistics? Not apparently very much, judging by his splits:

                  BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  
2005 vs. left:  .236 .307 .416 .723
2006 vs. left:  .242 .294 .363 .657 
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2005 vs. right: .324 .370 .582 .952
2006 vs. right: .296 .358 .488 .846

While the increased number of at-bats against left-handers clearly isn't helping his overall statistics, it's clear that whatever has plagued Tracy this year, is affecting him regardless of the opposing pitcher. However, there is a huge gap between his performances at Chase Field, and those on the road:

                  BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  
2006 home:      .311 .369 .524 .893 
2006 road:      .245 .304 .367 .671 

This is not something which was previously much of an issue - over his entire career, the home/road difference in OPS is only 85 points, rather than the 222 seen this season. I have no idea of the significance, if any, of this - or the fact that Tracy is batting just .197 and has only a single home-run in 132 at-bats during 2006 day games. Is there maybe some kind of eyesight issue? I note that his line at night (.311/.374/.509 = .883 OPS) is a lot closer to what he did last season, and was expected to do this year.

Tracy does seem to play better against our divisional rivals: vs. the NL West, he is batting .335 (59-for-176), and that'd be even higher if he weren't 4-for-26 facing San Diego. No-one has more hits this year facing the Giants (20) or Rockies (19). And the good news is, Tracy overall does still have time to turn it around. Last year, he was hitting .284 as late as September 8, but then went on a monumental tear, going 35-for-83 with 7 HR and 21 RBI in the final three weeks. Hopefully we'll see the same here, and August has started solidly, Tracy going 14-for-44 this month, though he's homerless so far. We need Tracy to step up down the stretch, and prove to us that he is indeed deserving of the long-term contract signed earlier this year, and is the solid solution at third-base, we thought he'd be after last season.