01 June 2012
Detroit is Quintin Berry City, USA right now, but you can hardly blame the fans for going nuts over the guy. He’s touched home plate seven times in eight games, and has seemed to give the offense a shot in the arm with his speed. Since Berry’s call up, the Tigers’ offense has averaged 5.4 runs per game, a full run more than their season average to date.
But, while Berry has been pretty good at the plate (with a slash line of .294/.368/.412), there’s no way he’s going to keep those numbers up for very long.
Berry has very little home run power, only hitting 20 career homers in parts of seven minor league seasons. He may hit one or two if he was to stay in the lineup all year, but his power really comes from putting the ball in play and using his legs to take an extra base or two. That’s all well and good, plenty of players have made long and useful careers out of doing just that, but Berry’s future problem will be getting those balls in play to continue falling for hits.Austin Jackson* at .370 (after him it’s guys like Rod Carew and Derek Jeter around .355 to .360). So we don’t really know that Berry can’t or won’t continue with his .500+ BABIP, but, the way I see it, we’re left with two hypotheses: (1) Quintin Berry is the best contact hitter of all time, or (2) his BABIP is going to regress over 150 points.
*I don’t think Austin Jackson is one of the best contact hitters of all time either. He’s still pretty young, and I’d count on his career BABIP regressing somewhat as well, but that’s another post.
Berry’s minor league track record certainly suggests the answer is not #1, so we should probably figure on his BABIP regressing. Here’s what that might look like given his current walk and strikeout rates:
There’s just no way his BABIP stays above .400 (his career minor league BABIP was .336), so he’s going to need to do something drastic about his high strikeout rate (38.5% so far in the majors) if he hopes to have long-term success in the big leagues. But even by dropping one-third of his strikeouts (just pretending the plate appearances never happened) and plugging in his .336 minor league BABIP, Berry’s expected OPS still comes out to only .623.
Those numbers might be acceptable for center fielder providing solid defense, but there’s no way he should remain in the corner outfield once Jackson returns. His speed is a big plus, I’ll agree to that, but I just don’t see him being much more than Don Kelly at the plate when all is said and done.
Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.