golden sombrero | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Golden Sombrero: Clete Thomas (4/18/2012)

Date: April 18, 2012 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Top 1: Clete Thomas struck out swinging against Hiroki Kuroda (5 pitches)

Top 3: Thomas called out on strikes against Kuroda (6 pitches)

Top 5: Thomas struck out swinging against Clay Rapada (7 pitches)

Top 8: Thomas struck out swinging against Boone Logan (3 pitches)

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K

RE24: -1.476

WPA: -0.105

Notes: It’s games like this that ultimately get you DFA’d.

2012 Total Sombreros: 8

Golden Sombrero: J.D. Martinez (4/16/2012)

Date: April 16, 2012 vs. Washington Nationals

Top 1: J.D. Martinez struck out swinging against Stephen Strasburg (5 pitches)

Top 4: Martinez struck out swinging against Strasburg (3 pitches)

Top 6: Martinez walked against Strasburg (9 pitches)

Top 7: Martinez struck out swinging against Ryan Mattheus (4 pitches)

Top 9: Martinez struck out swinging against Henry Rodriguez (3 pitches)

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K, BB

RE24: -0.545

WPA: 0.001

Notes: I don’t know how, but Martinez finished the game with a non-negative WPA. I feel as though golden sombreros at the hands of the Nationals may be a common theme this season.

2012 Total Sombreros: 6

Golden Sombrero: Adam Dunn (4/13/2012)

Date: April 13, 2012 vs. Detroit Tigers

Bottom 1: Adam Dunn struck out swinging against Max Scherzer (8 pitches)

Bottom 4: Dunn struck out swinging against Scherzer (6 pitches)

Bottom 6: Dunn called out on strikes against Scherzer (7 pitches)

Bottom 8: Dunn struck out swinging against Daniel Schlereth (9 pitches)


Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K

RE24: -1.2

WPA: -0.083 

Notes: Give the big man a break; he’s three true outcome type of guy. Plus, he saw 30 pitches over four at-bats, and that’s pretty damn amazing.

Total 2012 Sombreros: 4

Golden Sombrero: Matt Joyce (4/6/2012)

Date: April 6, 2012

Bottom 2: Matt Joyce struck out swinging against C.C. Sabathia (6 pitches)

Bottom 4: Joyce struck out swinging against Sabathia (4 pitches)

Bottom 6: Joyce struck out swinging against Sabathia (5 pitches)

Bottom 8: Called out on strikes against David Robertson (5 pitches)

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K 

RE24: -1.1

WPA: -0.222

Notes: Clearly an off night for Joyce, who batted ninth in Joe Maddon’s ever-changing lineup mash-up. Okay, so he can’t really hit left-handers. But that doesn’t explain why Jeff Keppinger hit cleanup.

Total 2012 Sombreros: 3


2011 Sombreros in Review: Adam Dunn

What’s there to say about Adam Dunn’s 2011 season that hasn’t already been said?  With an fWAR of -2.9 over 496 plate appearances, Dunn had one of the worst seasons in baseball history and recorded career lows in nearly every offensive category.  He finished the season with a triple slash line of .159/.292/.277, wRC+ of 59, .118 ISO, 27 extra-base hits, and a measly 42 RBI.

Along the way, the big man amassed three golden sombreros, putting him in a seven-way tie for first place in Major League Baseball.  He picked up his first on May 21 against the Dodgers and then followed it up with his second on May 26 against the Blue Jays.  The final sombrero came exactly a month later at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

Absolutely nothing went Dunn’s way in 2011; he hit like crap and was an utter disappointment in his first season with the White Sox.  There wasn’t a single moment where it seemed as though Dunn might turn the corner.  He never hit that dramatic walk-off bomb in front of a sold out home crowd or had a multi-home run game to rally the troops in his favor.

So what can be attributed to Dunn’s abysmal season? Well, his 35.7% strikeout rate is a good but obvious starting point.  In 415 at-bats this season, Dunn set a franchise record by fanning 177 times.  And although his penchant for striking out is as much of a defining trait as his longball potential, nothing pointed towards a complete offensive collapse.

In 2010, Dunn absolutely torched fastballs, as evidenced by a 32.1 wFB.  This past season, however, he posted a wFB of -8.5 (!), which is easily the worst of his storied career.  His inability to square up fastballs in turn damaged his approach at the plate, causing him to struggle mightily against offspeed pitches: -7.2 wSL (0.7 in 2010), -3.6 wCT (-2.5 in 2010), and -5.8 wCH (-3.9 in 2010) – all career lows.

Dunn also recorded a 57.8% O-Contact% (contact percentage on pitches thrown outside the strikezone), which, when supplemented by his 9.6% HR/FB rate, explains why he was seldom feared by opposing pitchers; they could comfortably attack him within the strikezone without the fear of 450-foot repercussions.

Here is Dunn’s ‘Swing Pitch Type’ chart from this past season:

While his selectiveness was decent—he did manage to coax 75 walks (15.1%)—Dunn simply was unable to consistently drive pitches within the strikezone, something that he’d never really struggled with.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Dunn failed to provoke an intentional walk all season for the first time in his 11-year career.

Yet, what Dunn’s season indicates, more than anything else, is a total lack of comfort and confidence at the dish – a realm of the game that cannot be quantified. Sure we can delve through endless statistics in search of some type of rationalization, but there is no true, metric-based explanation for why a player who averaged nearly 40 home runs and 100 RBI per season would suddenly hit his way out of a starting line up.

As any hitter will tell you, there’s nothing more detrimental to one’s performance than a waning level of confidence at the plate.  Once that confidence begins to waver, a hitter suddenly becomes susceptible to a slew of problems – some old, some new.  After scuffling through the first month of the season, Dunn never quite turned the corner as everyone expected he would, including himself.  Instead, his season spiraled out of control, as he absorbed the majority of the blame for the White Sox struggles, which in turn compounded his own personal issues.