Thursday, October 04, 2007

2007 Review: Adam LaRoche

2006: .285/.354/.561 with 32 HR, 38 2B, 1 3B in 557 PAs
2007 PECOTA: .283/.353/.526 with 27 HR, 34 2B, 1 3B in 537 PAs
2007 actual: .272/.345/.458 with 21 HR, 42 2B, 0 3B in 632 PAs

Charlie said a lot of what I said about LaRoche, but to be honest I put a bunch of these mostly done reviews in the queue over the weekend and felt like Charlie was reading my mind when I read his post on Monday. I really want to re-iterate it because I think it's very important, so if you feel like you're deja vu-ing on this post, I apologize.

LaRoche got off to a terrible start this year and there's no doubting that. But like so many Pirate-related things in our lives, that allowed us to lower our expectations for him to the point that we forgot just how good the guy was last year and how good we expected him to be this year. To illustrate, I'm going to use the fun BBREF gamelog tool to break down exactly what I mean.

From April 1st through May 31st this year, LaRoche hit .214/.319/.352. Putrid. From June 1st through the end of the year, he hit .299/.358/.509, or a little worse than we expected him to hit for the whole season. To compare to his breakout 2006, LaRoche hit .239/.335/.497 from season's start to the end of May and he walloped out a .306/.363/.591 pace from June 1st onwards. Translation from numbers to English: his valley was much deeper and his peak was much lower in 2007 than it was in 2006. If LaRoche were to have hit the way he did from June 1st on at a consistent pace from the start of April, we'd have nothing to complain about. But that's not what LaRoche does. All through his career he's spent the early months of the season hitting rather and turning into Harmon Killebrew when the weather gets hot. This year, he hit like a pitcher for two months, then turned into Adam LaRoche when the weather got hot.

To summarize: on the whole, LaRoche was another Pirate that regressed at an age (27 for Adam) that you simply don't expect that to happen. We all kind of failed to see it while it was happening because we were so happy to see him have a clue at the plate after the infuriating start to his season, but it happened nonetheless. In order for LaRoche to be a true middle of the order, Lefty McThumping first baseman, he's got to hit better in every month of 2008, not just April and May.