Geovany Soto is struggling and he doesn’t know why. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year has scraped together a measly .212/.318/.371 line and is now losing playing time to his illustrious backup, Koyie Hill. Lining up this season’s stats to his ROY campaign, I can see why he’s baffled.
First let’s take a look at his batted ball types.
(Blue is fly balls)
Uh-huh. No major changes, really. He’s hitting just a few more fly balls, but less are leaving the yard – down to 10.2% compared to 14.7% last year. That says something about why his power production is down, but it doesn’t explain why his batting average is hanging around the Mendoza line. Consider also his plate discipline numbers. Soto’s walks are up and his strikeouts are slightly down. He’s swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone – 20.1% last year, down to 18.1% this season – and he is making more contact when he does swing –74.7% last year, 77.4% this year. So he’s being more selective and making more contact when he does pull the trigger. It’s just as if he is almost always hitting the ball right at someone.
Soto has had some issues with his shoulder and oblique this year, which could be the culprit at least in part, but listening to Soto talk, he doesn’t seem to think that’s the case. Soto seems to attribute his woes to good old fashioned bad luck, and I’m not quite sure I can blame him.
Playing around with THT’s xBABIP calculator, Soto’s expected BABIP is .314. His actual BABIP: .245. Last year Soto was playing a bit over his head. This year he appears to be suffering some sort of horrid luck that Billy Sianis wouldn’t wish upon his worst enemy.
There may be more to it than luck, of course. Feel free to fill me in, someone.