There has been no shortage of Chase Headley articles here at Padres Public during 2013. Earlier in the season I tried to figure out why Chase was struggling and then took it a step further and examined one of his at-bats using Pitch f/x data. More recently Left Coast Bias noted that Chase Headley appeared to be emerging from his deep freeze while Son of a Duck tracked Chase’s chase of an ignominious record.
Chase Headley is a fascinating subject. As he inches closer to his age 30 season the Padres must determine if this is a player who they want to extend, and in so doing, make him a cornerstone of the franchise. Or they could decide to trade him during the off-season or at the trade deadline in 2014 knowing full well that his stock has plummeted far below its peak in late 2012. The Padres could also simply let him walk when his contract expires at the end of 2014. This course of action would allow the front office to save face in two regards: Not trading away your best player (a common complaint amongst fans) but also not the over-committing millions of dollars to a player whose fantastic 2012 campaign is appearing to be more of an outlier with each passing game.
Would a trip to one of the most extreme hitters parks in all of Major League Baseball be an elixir for that which ails the Padres’ Silver Slugging third baseman? Let’s take a look.
Damn Colorado and Their Time Zone!
You may have had some difficulty watching the series in Colorado these last few days. You had a busy weekend and boom! just like that you’re back at the grind on Monday morning. You were trying to set the table for the coming week and then the Padres throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing by starting a game in Colorado at 5:40 pm. You’re all messed up in the head and guess what? So are the Padres. They fall behind early and by the time a rain delay comes around in the 8th inning you’ve left for greener pastures in the form of the season premier for Breaking Bad. You dig in to the final season, because quite frankly, waiting 24 hours to watch greatness is far too long.
You rise on Tuesday morning with visions of Walt and Hank dancing in your head and a mild interest in the final score of Monday night’s game. You see that the final score was 14-2, prompting you to file a formal protest against the Padres for Tuesday night’s contest. This action frees up the television for your wife to watch the newest season of America’s Next Top Model and for you both to catch-up on season 2 of Boardwalk Empire where Nucky and Mrs. Schroeder are at loggerheads. But all is right with your marital relationship. And the Padres too. They won on Tuesday!
The rubber match of the series begins at 12:10pm on Wednesday afternoon and you miss the entire thing. Here’s the short of it: Andrew Cashner pitched really well but the Padres lost. Bummer.
But what about Chase?
Yes this whole thing is about Chase Headley so let’s get back on target here. I’ve got bad news and I have worse news. Let’s start with the bad. Go ahead and take a look at the chart below. I’ve provided you with the Padres’ offensive performance (minus Chase Headley) followed by the third baseman’s performance across the three game series.
|Performance in Colorado||AB||R||H||RBI||BB||SO||BA|
|Padres minus C.H.||89||11||26||11||6||16||.292|
Yeah. That’s bad.
While the rest of the offense created some positive energy moving forward Chase Headley did absolutely nothing with the bat. Nothing. And that’s not even the bad news. Let’s look at each game in isolation.
In game 1 of the series Chase goes 0 for 3 with zero walks and strikes out once. He grounds into a fielders choice (3-6) in his first AB and later grounds to the first baseman again. He sees 10 pitches across his three trips to the plate, striking out on 3 pitches during his middle AB. He is lifted for Ronny Cedeno and fails to receive a fourth AB in the 14-2 laugher.
All three ABs were from the left side of the plate.
In game 2 of the series Chase goes 0 for 5 with zero walks and strikes out once. In his first four trips to the plate (all left handed) he averages 3 pitches per AB and manages three ground outs to the second baseman and one ground out to the first baseman. In his fifth AB, batting right handed, Chase sees 5 pitches and strikes out.
In game 3 of the series Chase goes 0 for 4 with zero walks and strikes out twice. Batting right handed against Jorge De La Rosa Chase grounds out to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the first inning. He saw only 1 pitch. In his next two ABs, also against the lefty De La Rosa, Chase strikes out on 3 pitches in consecutive at-bats. In Chase’s fourth AB he comes to the plate batting left handed and grounds out to second base after 2 pitches.
Chase Headley sees 9 pitches in four ABs during the final game of the series before getting on a plane bound for San Diego and a four game series against the New York Mets.
In Summation (TL;DR)
Chase Headley didn’t just go 0-12 against the Rockies he went 0-12 and failed to hit the ball out of the infield. I’m going to retype part of the previous sentence for effect: failed to hit the ball out of the infield.
He either struck out (4 times and on only 3 pitches during 3 of those ABs) or pulled ground balls (8) and failed to walk even once. Of course it’s difficult to walk when you don’t see many pitches of which he saw 3 or fewer during 9 of his 12 at-bats.
Here’s my analysis: I have no idea what’s going on with Chase Headley. His patience appears to have gone out the door and he’s not squaring up any of the pitches he does make contact with. His approach at the plate is one of an anxious hitter: pulling everything and chasing pitches early in the count. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. Based on my own frustrations as a fan I can only imagine how frustrated he is as a professional. And that’s the amazing thing. How his miserable at-bats don’t follow him out into the field is a true testament to Chase Headley’s professionalism.
I feel bad for Chase Headley. And us. But mostly Chase.
H/T to Dick Enberg who mentioned at some point during Wednesday’s telecast that Chase Headley had failed to hit the ball out of the infield during the series. I still had to look at each at bat in baseball-reference though because, you know, Dick Enberg. While that comment sounds snarky I must point out that after Jaff Decker hit his first MLB home run Dick said that Decker was drafted 3 years ago, which we all know is . . . just a bit off.
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com