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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Carlos Quentin: 2008 Surprise? Not According to the Numbers

It's incredible how out-of-no-where Carlos Quentin has been in 2008... or has it? Last year, Quentin was receiving the same hype leading into 2007 that Hunter Pence received going into this season. In 2005 Quentin knocked out 21 home runs in Triple-A Tuscan on the Diamondbacks' farm, all the while batting .301 with an OPS over .900. After that season, scouts and fans alike were drooling over this 23-year old's potential. Baseball Prospectus said Quentin's 2005 numbers were a true testament to his ability, as he was fresh off Tommy John surgery in the previous season. BP's 2006 projection: 15 homers, .268 BA, and a OPS over .800. Not a bad projection for a rookie outfielder in a then-empty D-Backs line-up.

Baseball Think Factory's ZiPS projected Quentin to knock out 15 home runs, bat .269, to the tune of a .778 OPS. Again, not too bad a projection for a guy who, up until that point, had never seen a major league pitch. As it turns out, Quentin received little time in the Majors in 2006. His combined numbers between Triple-A and the MLB: 18 homers, a .276 BA, with a .912 OPS in Triple-A and a .872 OPS in the Majors.

While the batting average was not fantastic... let's be honest with ourselves, that's pretty damn impressive for a rookie. Combine that with the .872 OPS, and you have yourself a nice looking prospect.

In the 2007 edition of Baseball Prospectus, the projections were on the conservative side (not that I am ever expecting Matthew Berry-esque projections from the folks at BP): 18 homers, .285 BA, and a .872 OPS. Essentially the BP team was expecting more the same from Quentin in the OPS department (more slanted toward the OBP than the SLG%) with an increase in BA. They didn't really offer an explaination, but they didn't really need to either. Quentin was, at best, going to be splitting time with guys like Chad Tracy, (an unproven) Eric Byrnes, Scott Hairston, and two high-end prospects named Justin Upton and Chris Young. Essentially, Quentin's talent was going to be strangled by platoons in

Ron Shandler, more-less, sided with the BP experts: 20 homers, .275, and .841. For Shandler, however, Quentin's "power may arrive before [batting average], but both are on the way." So, depending on which book you place your trust in, Quentin was either going to see an increase in batting average (BP) or power (Shandler).

What happened? Both were wrong. Quentin suffered a torn labrum in the early goings of 2007 and never really got back on track. Both his power (9 homers) and batting average (.258) fell and left both our experts turned off (BP: 11-.263-.788, Shandler: 12-.262-.754). What both sources may have dismissed as 'fluke' was Quentin's SLG% of .400 in 2007...

Now, obviously, hind-sight is 20-20 and Quentin, after being dealt from the D-Backs (who had no room for him anyway) to the Chicago White Sox, is absolutely raking. As I am writing this, he just hit his 12th home run of the year, putting him on a pace for more than 40 in 2008. His OBP is in David Ortiz's realm at 1.004 and he's hitting over .300 while batting 2nd in a potent White Sox line-up.

Quentin went through, what I like to call, the "Hank Blalock Effect (named after Blalock who, after being hyped like nobody's business in 2001, failed to meet expectations in 2002-- Only before breaking out without warning in 2003 after he was left on the scrap heap by fans and analysts). Is Quentin going to keep this pace up? Probably not. But it's still great to see him rising like a phoenix (no Arizona pun intended) this season for both White Sox fans and for fantasy baseball owners. Like Blalock in 2003, it's going to be hard for this guy to keep this pace up... but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy it while it lasts.


Anonymous said...

And as of this comment he is still doing it. This guy, so far, is frickin unreal!

bfadds said...

Wil-- thanks for the comment. I have had Carlos on my fantasy team for the last three weeks and have asked myself: "Why not the last 10?"

I think, personally, my eyes were opened to this guy when the Yanks were in Chicago earlier this season (I am from NY... so the only way I see the Sox is on YES), and Quentin, at that time, was in a platoon. I just remember him go yard on on the next AB nearly go yard again.

You're right he is unreal and I hope he keeps this up.

Also... what's up with the All Star Balloting? He's not listed? That would be a crime if he didn't make the starting line-up.