White Sox player wrap-ups - Carlos Quentin

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You knew it was going to be this picture

If there's a reason I put a "What did we expect?" section into all the wrap-ups (other than to lampoon my preposterous season preview), it's to properly explain why Carlos Quentin's good offense-terrible defense season provoked such volcanic rage amongst fans, pundits, and my sister and I.

I swear, Carlos had to have been responsible for 12-15 extra rounds of beer purchased at the game this season for the sibling and I.  Only CQ grounding into a double play could make my sister settle for MGD.

Stat line: .243 BA, .342 OBP, .479 SLG, .821 OPS, 25 2B, 2 3B, 26 HR, 73 R, 87 RBI, 50 BB, 83 SO, .356 wOBA, -22.9 UZR, 0.0 WAR

What did we expect?: The moon, with cherries on top.

And perhaps that was extremely unfair because after all, how does one bring you the moon twice?

"A healthy Quentin (That feels weird just to type) will
be re-installed as the everyday left fielder (or right fielder, who the
hells knows where Juan Pierre is going) this year after last year's
plantar fascitis-a-thon. While installing the oft-injured Quentin, whom
Guillen once said ran like "an old drunk", into the DH slot and
replacing him with a righty-lefty platoon of Jones and Kotsay in the
outfield would seem as obvious to some as the sun exploding, the White
Sox choose the road less traveled. As such Carlos will once again try
to break this string of sub-140 game seasons that has spanned, oh, his
entire career by diving around like John Belushi in the outfield again
this season. He struggled to get rolling for average in the spotty time
where he was available last year, but a healthy season virtually
guarantees 35 HR and 110 RBIs. An awful lot hinges on this.
"


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Carlos slides for balls most men jog to

I direct your attention to March 2010-me's use of the words "virtually guarantees".  I remind you dear readers, that the crazy lunkhead you look to for entertainment, is always inside of you.  I can actually stand by this claim though, because Carlos didn't have a healthy season...he's never had a healthy season, he never will have a healthy season.  But the reality that I could flick a rubber band at him from the stands and he would miss two weeks is something I should have factored into my analysis before saying that Carlos had to go aggro or the offense would be toilet water.

The result: Up and down, black and white, cats and Alaskan wolves.

In a month-to-month look, Carlos started slow

April: .732 OPS, 4 HRs (.187 BA)
May: .661 OPS, 1 HR

Caught fire like a teddy bear doused in gasoline

June: .936 OPS, 8 HRs
July: 1.021 OPS, 7 HRs

Lulled

August: .744 OPS, 4 HRs (20 strikeouts)

And recovered

September: .878 OPS, 2 HRs

But on a day-to-day basis, Carlos' production and suckage came in highly concentrated clumps.  4 multi-HR games is a fair amount when you only hit 26, just as 14 multi-strikeout games is a fairly high amount when you only K 83 times.  Clumps aren't necessarily a bad thing--2-HR games are surprisingly useful--it's just that seeing someone who can be so locked in, and so completely out of sync, you wonder why he can't eliminate more periods of the latter.

Ostensibly, Carlos' offense wasn't really the problem.  His walk-rate dropped, he couldn't seem to hit anything that wasn't a fly ball (prompting a dirt-low batting average), and I'm pretty sure if spotted an 0-2 count, he'd wave at my slider if it was low and away....and I could throw a slider (I throw a heater and a splitter, both are slow, both are up). 


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Carlos may or may not moonlight as the smarmy SOB in State Farm commercials

There are stretches where you're about 85% sure that he's going to homer in his next at-bat, and there are stretches where he's the last guy in the world you want at the plate.  Over the season, you're better off if you're giving Quentin 500 at-bats.  If we were getting 26 HRs and .821 OPS from Mark Kotsay, I'd have to talked out of a #7 tattoo, but instead, we got it from a guy everyone expected to be our next dominant right-handed hitter two years ago.  Someone once set to replace a seemingly declining Paul Konerko's role on the team.  It doesn't seem like he's ever going to be that, and that's upsetting.

The big problem is that there's more to the sport than hitting, and Quentin is really, really awful at every other aspect.  I'm not sure he's ever qualified as fast, but foot, leg, and falling-on-his-ass-related injuries has robbed Carlos of any speed he once had.  This has resulted in stuck-in-cement baserunning (he managed to swipe two bags this season, heavily utilizing the element of surprise), and bad defense.

Dreadful defense.  Bad enough for the 2nd lowest UZR of any player in the league.  Perhaps as J.J. suggested, Carlos doesn't make more bad reads than most fielders, but he certainly makes his fair share, and when he does, maaaaan do you notice.  Carlos goes all out in trying to recover despite his minimal ability, as evidenced by his diving catches, but unfortunately when Carlos 'sacrifices his body' for the ball, he tends to actually be sacrificing his body.  CQ's perpetual fragility meant that if he was hitting the dirt, he was probably out of the game with an injury two innings later.  The same would occur with a rough slide, or a collision of any kind with anything, which happened a lot because for a professional athlete, CQ is a huge klutz.

It's one thing to be all-hitting and nothing else, it's another thing to be so bad at everything else that it starts to screw with your hitting.

Love him or leave him?: Well, I certainly don't love him.  He's an injury-prone head-case with a very specialized skill-set who's not going to reach his potential.  But as much as he's been an infuriating disappointment, the calls for him to be non-tendered risk wasting a marginal asset.  Sure, it doesn't seem like the Cardinals are dumb enough to trade Colby Rasmus for CQ, but damaged bullpen help (the type Kenny Williams prefers) would surely be available.


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Um...yeah....look at his face right here

Depressingly, the White Sox offense probably isn't good enough to spare a .356 wOBA hitter without a comparable replacement.  He's not the dominating hitter you'd idealize as a DH, but neither is Mark Kotsay, Mark Teahen, Andruw Jones, or undeveloped Dayan Viciedo.  Plus it's literally the only thing he's capable of doing.  Now there's a possibility that if he doesn't play defense, Carlos won't be able to get out of his own head enough to be a competent hitter...in which case I'm afraid he'll just have to retire.

Begrudgingly, I have to say that if the White Sox can find a suitable value in return for Quentin, they should.  I say it begrudgingly, because Carlos' value is undercut by his inability to stay healthy.  For someone who keeps himself in pretty good shape, Carlos' proclivity for injury doesn't seem to be much more than bad luck, but it's a fairly long history at this point, one that suggests that season where Quentin makes it to 130 games, or plays at full-strength, is as much a product of luck as his setbacks.  You want players you can rely on.

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