After his monstrous breakout 2008 campaign, Chris Iannetta was this surefire thing to be a monstrous bat of Doom in our lineup. Iannetta posted a batting line of .264/.390/.505 line good for a .895 OPS and .391 wOBA, and was poised to be a centerpiece of our lineup for some time.
Since then, Iannetta has...not met expectations. This season, he's mustering a .230/.340/.452 batting line, good for a .792 OPS and a .340 wOBA. Basically, his bat has dropped from near-elite thumper to a somewhat-above average bat.
What should we take from this?
Well, there's good, there's bad, and there are explanations.
First, the good. We've established that his .340 wOBA plays as an above average bat, when viewed across the league. In terms of WAR, he's a 1.4 win player (which again, doesn't take defense into account). Also, his IsoD and IsoP are pretty in line with what we're accustomed to, .110 IsoD and .222 IsoP. What does this mean? It means that Iannetta is a positive impact on the lineup this season, and he's basically doing what he does pretty well - that is, walking, and hitting for power (he has 3 of our top 5 longest homers this season). Additionally, Chris' K% has dropped this season, from 27.6% to 24.9%.
But that doesn't excuse the .230 batting average.
Second, the bad. .230 is just not a legitimate batting average. I understand (and love) Adam Dunn's skillsets of murdering baseballs and walking a pile, but some hits would be nice now and then, right? Also, Chris' BB% has dropped a smidge, from 14.4% to 12.5%, and thus, his BB/K has also dropped from 0.61 to 0.57 (but his career BB/K is .058, so it's not like he's fallen off of a cliff).
Sure thing! After the jump.
Well, Chris has been haunted by a low BABIP, .252, as compared to a .291 career line. For those of you who have forgotten BABIP, basically Chris' batted balls aren't finding holes, gaps, and heading straight at gloves. I know that I've seen Chris get robbed at the warning track many times this season. Not that it means the out doesn't count, but come on, why wasn't that a double at the least? Stupid Chris Young.
The upside of this, at the very least, is that Chris' FB% has skyrocketed from the low 40%'s to 52.4% this season. I mean, it's still outs, but a manager once said (and I paraphrase, as I can't find the quote) "You give me one fly ball a game, whenever I want it, and I'll win you the pennant." Point being a fly ball can at least get someone somewhere, and a ground ball is essentially worthless (you know, unless it sneaks through for a hit) - and his GB% has dropped from 37.9% to 31.5%. So while he's not as efficient in terms of Out prevention, offensively, he's at least making the most of his outs.
What concerns me, however, is his very low LD%. He's hitting line drives at a lower rate than 2007, currently at 16.1% as compared to a 2008 rate of 21.4% and a 2007 rate of 17.9%. Chris dealt with these issues with a brief instructional demotion to AAA. Clearly, that isn't an option anymore. I'd advise winter ball tuneups, maybe extra cage time with his AAA hitting coach (or was it just Runnells working with him?).
So what do we have to look forward to? Well, ZiPS projects Iannetta to bump his BABIP up to .264 by season's end, meaning that he'll post a .286 the rest of the way. What this means in the term of a slash line is that he'll bat .252/.359/.479 the rest of the way, good for a .838 OPS and a .364 wOBA. Sure, it's not an all star line, but it's a bat that starts in any MLB lineup. (Hell, his current line starts at C in any MLB lineup.)
So to summarize Iannetta, he is still an above-average MLB bat, and his Iso numbers are still right in line with what we've kind of viewed as his skillset. His batting average is poor, but a lot of that could be BABIP issues. He's making productive outs, or at least the potential thereof, based on his really high FB% and lower GB%, but his LD% has dropped pretty significantly. He's probably due to rebound and be a bigger bat the rest of the way.
Much as Iannetta frustrates us lately, the numbers suggest that he is still DOOM, still disciplined, still Dreamy, and occasionally, still a Destructobeam.