What's wrong with Martin Prado ?

It's been a while since I created a fanpost here at AZ Snakepit, and I can see the eye-rolls now in reaction to the fact that my first one in a while is about Martin Prado. But I swear the intent here is not to create another debate about Kevin Towers, or "The Trade". I simply want to share what I have been looking at the last day or so. I was also prompted by a post from Hacks in tonight's gamethread, in response to a post I made comparing his numbers to Cliff Pennington, to open up a discussion regarding his performance to date, and what people expect going forward. This is year 1 of a 4 year, 40 million dollar deal. So here goes........

Note: Partly because I suck at importing tables, and partly because I think it's better for people to FOLLOW THE LINKS and look for yourself, I am not posting tables. I am posting links to the tables that support my comments below. I STRONGLY urge you to click through. The more people looking at the data tables, the more chance that someone will see something I didn't see.

The first thing that struck me when looking at Prado's numbers are how so many of his underlying peripherals are either a carbon copy of last year or right in line with his career averages. For example, look at his Batted Ball percentages, and also his BB% & K% Data. He is walking a little less than last year, mostly due to low walk totals against RHP, but he's not striking out any more, and both rates are in line with career norms. The The LD/GB/FB percentages, and also HR/FB and IF/FB rates are almost exactly the same as last year,. The infield hit percentage is lower however and he has not bunted for a base hit once this year.

Also, looking at his Plate Discipline Numbers his contact rates are about the same, although he is swinging more than he has in the past. But of course his BABIP is way off from last year,
2012- .322
2013- .266

Broken out by BIP type, here are League avg vs. Prado's numbers this year
ALL .295/.266
GB .238/.174
FB .105/.081
LD .675/.655
BU .395/NA (No bunt attempt for hit)

This is where HITfx data would be nice to have. Many have observed that he does not seem to make hard contact very often. I only get to see 2 games a week on average. So it's hard for me to judge that by the "eye" test. But the high line drive rates, (highest of his career to date so far) the HR/FB rates being the same as last year, and the pop up rates being the same as last year, might suggest that the drop in quality of contact may not be as steep as we may think from watching.

On the other hand, the super low BABIP on ground balls seems to suggest that all the soft tappers we are seeing are taking a toll, and lowish BABIP on FB is also an indication of a lot of medium, easy, "can o' corn" fly outs. Another big indicator of lack of hard contact is his career low Isolated Power, (Slugging minus Batting avg).
Career .135
2012 .136
2013 .091

It's not just the lack of a couple of more homers, but also the dearth of doubles and triples. Prado had 42 doubles and 6 triples last year, this year he has 12 doubles and 0 triples. And while his batting avg and walk rates vs. lefties are better than vs. righies, he's not hitting lefties for any power at all. L/R Splits So while it appears from the raw BABIP numbers on the BIP types there might be a bit of bad luck, the overriding factor really does appear to be weaker contact in general.

The other thing I would like to look at here is spray charts. But I don't have that data. If anyone has access to spray chart data, or knows where to find it, please post it in the comments. I would like to know if he is hitting more or fewer ball opposite field.

As for his defense and Baserunning: The Advanced fielding metrics, both UZR and Rdrs data linked to the right here >> show he has not had a good fielding season so far. Of course 65 games of fielding data is like 20 something games of hitting data, so these could be a lot different by the end of the year. You can't judge "true talent" by the 65 games of fielding data....but these are the resultS so far. Fielding CAN and does slump. Of course Prado could be losing a bit of range which would not be strange at this point in his career. Also the hard infield at Chase may expose a guy that is losing a touch of range as well.

Baserunning is showing as negative at both FG and BB-Ref and of course both have him with Negative WAR all around. Summary: Personally, I think that Prado is a guy that looks older, slower, and less physical and athletic than I had remembered. The bat speed isn't there, there doesn't appear to be much pop in the bat...he looks a little choppy in the field sometimes, and overall, appears to be a guy that is not nearly as good as last years numbers indicate.

Will he be better over the next 90 games ? I think so. Hard to be much worse, quite frankly. I think there is some positive regression that should go his way, and with that positive regression, then comes confidence, which feeds better at bats, better contact, etc. I will be shocked if Prado doesn't hae a decent stretch of hitting in him considering his track record. But when guys start to decline a bit, the hot streaks get shorter and the slumps get longer...that usually precipitates falling off a cliff. But David B, a well respected poster at DBBP and a very knowledgable fan made the following comment in the Prado thread over there:

Every day he gets one day closer to falling off the Chone Figgins cliff.