Kyle Blanks has one season under his belt.
Let me clarify: Kyle Blanks has played in parts of 5 seasons now with the Padres, in which injuries have limited his appearances to 197 games (as of this writing). He has 667 plate appearances, which isn’t an unreasonable amount to expect from an everyday Major Leaguer. I figure now is as good of a time as any to analyze Kyle’s “first season” with the Padres.
Checking out his traditional stats, Blanks has put up .232 AVG, 28 HR, 90 RBI with a .762 OPS/113 OPS+. He’s a 3.3 fWAR player who rates positively as both a baserunner and defender. That .762 OPS is a bit above average, but nothing that’s going to set the world on fire. Placing A Season Of Kyle Blanks on last year’s squad, that places him 5th on the team (between Will Venable and Yonder Alonso) in OPS. Okay, so a serviceable player. Not a void. Perhaps internet meme fodder, but not a hole in the lineup. Here’s the thing, though; he’s struck out a lot.
A Season Of Kyle Blanks shows strike outs 29% of the time. When compared to, say, Rob Deer or Russell Branyan? Not bad. When compared to league averages? Not so much. Can Kyle Blanks be considered amongst such legends of the Three True Outcomes? Well, A Season Of Kyle Blanks shows a TTO% of 44.7%, which rates highly over a career, but not so much over a single season. Considering he’s down to 37.8% in 2013, and quite frankly doesn’t walk as much as a true TTO master, we’re going to have to nip this in the bud. For now.
Of all the pitches Kyle Blanks sees, he takes swings at 48.4% of them. 30.2% of those pitches are out of the strike zone, of which he makes contact 48.1% of the time. Did I lose you? Basically, he’s around league average for swinging at balls outside of the strike zone. He’s below average in making contact on those balls he’s swinging at outside of the strike zone, however. For balls in the zone, he’s pretty close to average on both ends. Overall, when he swings his bat, he makes contact 69.9% of the time. League average usually hovers around 80%. So what does that tell us? Kyle’s taking a lot of cuts at bad pitches, and he misses a lot of them.
So, we have a solid Major League hitter who walks just enough and strikes out a lot. “I want a star!”, says the fan on Twitter who also thinks Chase Headley is suddenly irreparably shitty at baseball. Well, the good news is that there are a few reasonable explanations for some of Kyle’s more questionable numbers (as outlined at Fangraphs prior to this season): 2010 and 2012 can be considered outliers due to injuries and a lack of playing time. In 2013, we may very well be getting a look what the honest-to-goodness everyday Kyle Blanks will look like. The same one we got glimpses of in the past, when he was given the opportunity/was healthy enough to play every day. While contact on balls swung at out of the strike zone is still below-average at around 53%, and overall contact is around 76%; he’s heading in the right direction in this area.
The challenge is, of course, Kyle Blanks staying healthy. As long as he remains so, and keeps hitting like he is now, he’s going to force management’s hand. For a player trending upward, I’m hoping this is the only time we look at a season’s worth of at-bats that took 5 years to accumulate. It can only mean good things for the Padres. Here’s to you, Kyle Blanks.
The Vocal Minority posts every Monday, and we LOOOOOOVE Kyle Blanks. Follow me on Twitter @VocalMinoritySD. You can follow Nate on Twitter @The_NV, and shame on you if you aren’t. Would Richard Harrow drink Guinness Black Lager through a straw?
edited: Removed Headley and Quentin stats, which were incorrect. I blame swooning.