In recent years, it hasn’t been unusual to see the Orioles have a player that has hit much better for the team than was expected. Chris Davis. Nelson Cruz. Delmon Young. Steve Pearce. And half way through the 2015 season it looked like we’d be able to add Jimmy Paredes to that list.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
The 26 year-old Paredes was already in his fourth organization, and started the year in the Majors after a cup of coffee in Baltimore in 2014. Over his four year career he had accumulated close to a full season of plate appearances with a dreadful 242/.279/.330 line and 5 total home runs. I guess the O’s saw something in him. By May 9th of ‘15, Paredes had doubled his career home run total. By the end of June, he was batting .316/.345/.507 with 9 homers and a 134 wRC+. Jeff Sullivan mentioned the breakout of JD Martinez as a comparison.
Since then, he has not been the new and improved Jimmy Paredes. That’s not surprising, since a .392 BABIP was very unlikely to be sustainable. The strike-out rate was a little high (25%), and the walk rate was a little low (5%). But even a little regression would have been fine. The fear was that he would turn back into the old Jimmy Paredes. Boy, would that have been nice (relatively speaking).
Instead, it’s been a total collapse. Only one home run since the beginning of July, to go along with a wRC+ of 30 (.188/.234/.248). Paredes has struck out almost 34% of the time, including over 40% of the time in August thus far. His .281 BABIP is low, but not outrageously so. One of the more important parts of hitting well is hitting the ball at all, and Paredes’ contact rate has fallen from an already poor 69% to just over 62%*. He swings more frequently than almost anyone in baseball, and you have to be superman to not connect and still deliver.
* 69% would be the 7th worst mark in the Majors this year among qualified hitters. 62% would be the worst, by a couple points.
Despite being a switch-hitter, Paredes has mostly been used against right-handed pitching – and that’s mostly were his decline has come (the drop-off in production versus lefties seems to primarily be explainable via decrease in BABIP). It would be interesting to know if it’s a timing problem, as the issue seems to largely be tied to change-ups and the like. BrooksBaseball shows that he’s swinging at off-speed (non-breaking) pitches – which he would chase more often than other types previously – at an even higher rate. And though he’s whiffing a little more frequently on breaking-balls, Paredes has gone from missing when he swings at an off-speed offering a bit over 40% of the time to close to 60% of the time. Perhaps with this in mind, righties have changed how they’re pitching Paredes – starting him off with a fastball more, but going to the off-speed pitch later in the count.
Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. It’s possible that his hot start caused pitchers to actually worry about getting Jimmy Paredes out*, and their adjustments seem to be working. We’ll see if he can make the proper counter-adjustments.
* Maybe even for the first time. Paredes never even had an .852 OPS in the minors, but he did in the big leagues, at least through June.