Slump Busted?

It wasn’t that long ago that Padres fans were staring at their televisions and wondering “what on Earth has happened to Chase Headley?”

Because, as you’ll recall, the 2nd half of 2012 Chase Headley was a man on fire. He stormed to win the the RBI title. He increased his power numbers by a factor of 3 (8 HRs in the first half of 2012; 23 in the 2nd half). Fans were ready to offer David Wright level contracts. He appeared to be well on his way to becoming either the face of the Padres franchise or the next superstar that San Diego allowed to walk out of the door.

In 2013 we expected more of the same. Then an injury during Spring Training put Chase Headley on the DL to start the season. He missed the first 14 games of the season. The Padres went 4-10 during that span.

When Chase Headley came back he was not up to his 2012 peaks but he was good enough that no one really batted an eye. He hit .261 in April, OBP of .364 and had 2 HRs. Spectacular? Hardly. But in line with his career numbers. Again, nothing to bat an eye at.

Something happened in May and into June however. On May 11, Chase Headley was hitting .305. It dropped to .287 on May 20th. His average went down or stayed the same every day from then to June 5th when he was hitting .231. That average bottomed out on July 4th at .218. In a month and a half, Chase Headley went from a .300 hitter to a player who looked completely lost at the plate. On June 7th, Avenging Jack Murphy posted a well researched article on what may be different. You can read it here (and I highly recommend it) but the super basic gist? Pitchers had adapted and were pitching Chase different.


Then Chase Headley went 6-14 on the road vs Washington (despite the Padres facing potentially the toughest 3 game stretch of pitchers in Gonzalez, Zimmerman, and Strasburg). Today? Headley is hitting .236, a jump of 18 points in 15 games. Small sample size? Absolutely. But a significant stretch of successful plate appearances for a guy who couldn’t buy a good plate appearance not too long ago.

A few comparisons between June and July:

June BA: .183

July BA: .292

June OBP: .270

July OBP: .388

June OPS: .527

July OPS: .833

So what happened? Perhaps it was as simple as the turning of the calendar. For his career, Chase Headley has posted his lowest BA, OBP, SLG and OPS in the month of June. Perhaps Headley is a big NBA fan and is distracted?

I don’t have any theories on why this is. For his career Chase’s 2nd half are typically better. Higher average, fewer strikeouts, getting on base more. Is it possible that starting the year on the DL delayed his 2nd half resurgence this year by two weeks? Maybe.

But the slump appears to be over. Will the power come back? That seems unlikely. Before last year he had never hit more than 12 HRs. Then he suddenly hit 31 HRs. I don’t think that’s something we should come to expect, though more than 12 seems right (maybe around 18-20?). His average is climbing and will likely land somewhere around his career average of .269.

But the point is, as much as that 23 HR 2nd half of 2012 is beginning to look like an outlier, so was the June of 2013.

Chase Headley appears to be back. Not to late 2012 heights. But back to the Chase Headley that the Padres had before his major breakout half. And that Chase Headley was an above average hitter. He just was so in less flashy ways. So I suppose the takeaway is this: the Padres made the right decision to not buy high on Headley during the winter of 2012. But failing to resign him (for a reasonable contract, I’ll let you guys argue what that looks like today) due to a slump that he’s pulled out of? Equally foolish.

Welcome back, Chase. Whoever you are.

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  • pat

    He is who we thought he was!

  • MrWhamBam

    Im not feeding into this little upswing, as most of his buttlickers are…I still think he should be traded. Why do I say that, in light of him getting a Silver Bat and a Gold Glove?..because I still think some team from the NL Central will give up a lot for him. And I mean A LOT.

    but the Padres are not gonna do that, because they’ve always stayed stuck on stupid, waiting forever for said guy to rise above his ceiling (see: Will Venable and Nick Hundley).

    If Im Fowler, Im mighty glad that Chase didnt agree to the terms of a deal that would have made him the highest paid Padre, ever. If Im Ron Fowler, Im lookin at Jedd Gyorko, over there at 2nd, and Im thinking this kid is the REAL DEAL…and if Im Ron Fowler, Im not feeling so bad, if Headley is traded.

    Ive been watching this team very closely since it moved downtown SD…and one thing I know, is this team doesnt need a big bat, per say. Hell, we had one in Adrian Gonzalez, and we lost plenty of games with him. No, what this team needs is more hitters like Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso, who have some pop, but will work an at bat to its last breath, while they hit for a pretty decent average. We need guys who know how to put the bat on the ball thru out the lineup.

    I wouldnt be a bit surprised if Chase has been thinking that the success of the team, lies on his shoulders. Some of that is true, when you’re playing a premium position like 3rd base. But its not the whole story.

    When there’s no pressure on him and the season is damn near over, he always hits…when the clock is ticking and everybody is waiting on him to carry the load when it REALLY matters, he’s nowhere to be found. He’s had the benefit of having some protection and there have been times, when he didnt have much.

    neither of those two realities, ever kept Adrian G, from putting up 30-plus homers and 100 plus ribbies. So, Chase cant sit back and say, “I need more help”…he’s had it, and STILL didnt deliver. Bottom line, Carlos Quentin, is “delivering” on one freaking knee and a freaking kickstand, and he’s outhitting everybody in the lineup.

    whats Chase’s excuse, now?…

    I think he should be traded…but like Ive said, the Padres STILL think he’s gonna do something they havent seen yet. Watch and see. And unless they can get David Price-type pitcher, for him (EXTREMELY unlikely)..he’ll be staying here.

    • Geoff Hancock

      I’m not sure I follow. You want Adrian Gonzalez types or guys that work at bats and hit for average. Because Chase is the latter. He works at bats, hits for a decent average, has some pop and plays gold glove defense. Why would anyone want to trade that? Especially if the back up plan is a player halfway through his rookie year? I’m not saying Chase should be the highest paid player in franchise history. But the team is better with him on it.