If any one player brought out the ire of Reds fans last season, it would have to be Drew Stubbs. It had little to do with his defense aside from the gripe that he never would dive for a fly ball. We should all know what the complaints were about…and I’m not going to dwell on it a whole lot.
We recently heard (again) that Stubbs will be working on his bunting skills when Spring Training commences. If this is yet another push for Stubbs to bat leadoff, there are matters to consider as we will detail in a bit.
Here’s how Bill James projects Stubbs for 2012 and a glimpse at his stats. (via Fangraphs)
Projections and stats
1. Speed, speed and more speed
In his 2+ seasons, Stubbs has a tidy 80% success rate when it comes to stealing bases (80-for-100). That’s almost a 3% increase from his days in the minors where Stubbs stole bases at a 77% rate (121-for-157). But that speed doesn’t just sit when he’s in the outfield. It transfers quite well.
Stubbs was second on the Reds in dWAR (1.0) to Paul Janish (1.3). He was also second to Janish (12) in Total Zone Runs (10).
As I have stated, the common complaints regarding Stubbs and his defense is that he refuses to dive for a ball. It’s almost as if he will eschew the spectacular play (other than robbing an opponenet of a home run). I have no qualms with this approach. Stubbs would rather keep the ball in front of him and not permit the extra base (or two).
And his arm isn’t half bad either as he notched 8 assists, 5 of those at the plate.
2. Decrease in power
It wasn’t completely lost in the frustration that was the 2011 season, Stubbs was unable to produce the pop he did in 2010. Of course with the bugaboo hanging over his head, I have to believe that got to him more than the lack of power.
But Stubbs wasn’t really a power guy in the minors either. Sure, he possesses the pop, but it isn’t needed with every swing. His lifetime SLG in the minors was .401 and he hit double-digits home runs only once (2007 – 12). Power is something that can develop over time. I would prefer the contact first.
With the first two “negatives” in his head, you might wonder if Stubbs has lost a little confidence at the plate. If he whiffs, fans are likely to boo and complain. That can rise on the mind.
Before 2011, I thought Stubbs had the potential of a 30-30 season. Was I ever wrong. I was hoping he would further adapt to the leadoff role and become something along the lines of Rickey Henderson. There’s only one Rickey (and Rickey himself will probably tell you that.), but one can hold hope.
My hope for 2012 is finding a bit of the loss power while making better contact. If you look at his BABIP, when Stubbs makes contact, good things can happen.