Danny Valencia isn't very good right now. I'm sure you've noticed. Danny Boy isn't, by the way, in some run-of-the-mill bad stretch. He's in the worst bad stretch he's had in more than three seasons.
Going back to the beginning os the '14 season, Valencia's monthly OPS numbers have looked like this: 2014: .786-.616-.923-.775-.744-.528 2015: 1.021-.652-.1.080-.766-.917-.861 2016: .698-.1.078-.863-.634-.725-.716
Currently that number is at .455. The only month he's had in the past three years that rivals this one was September of '14, when he hacked to the tune of .528. He's in a very bad, no good streak.
So what's up?
Really, I don't know.
Is it the pressure of having a full-time gig? I doubt it. He was an everyday-er last season and had a pretty sweet season. It's why we bought him.
It is possible, I suppose, that the exposure to all the RHP's he's seeing this year is discombobulating his batting approach. In '14, 56% of his PA's were vs. RHP. It was 61% in '15 and '72% in '16. It sits at 84% this season. Doc has written before that some player's weaknesses get exposed when they become fulltimers, and I agree with that idea. But Valencia was that game in and game out player last season, too. Why would he become lost in Season Two of that career change and not Season One? 83% isn't THAT much more than 72%, anyway. Last season he hit RHP to the tune of .742; the year prior it was .881.
That number is .432 this season (SSS). Until '15, he was pretty pathetic against RHP. For example he "whacked" .540 vR in '14. Were '15 and '16 simply aberrations?
Valencia's BB rate over the past 3 seasons was 8.5%-7.6%-7.9%. This year it is 8.6%. Nothing has changed there. His 3 season K/vR AB was 30.2%-26-1% and 26.0%. This season it is 31.1%
Remember that in '14 he was terrible vs. RHP with a K rate better than the one he has this season. In '15-'16, when he hit RHP hard, his K rate was considerably better than it is this season. His 58 PA's are a small sample size, but we may be onto something here. He may be K'ing himself out of a job. His BABIP over the last three seasons has been .314-.326-.346. This year it is .205. He certainly has room to grow. But to tell you the truth, I'm not remembering a bunch of line shots right at people. Will defer to all of you on that one.
Valencia has always been a pretty streaky guy. Three times in the past two seasons he's had monthly OPS numbers north of 1.000. He's also had three months below .699.
And I think that is what Dipoto is holding on to; He's waiting for that white hot month. When it has come, It has always been in the first 1/2 of the season, and his pattern (three seasons running) is to cool off in the 2nd half. So there is where Dipot may be staking his Danny V. flag. He's a streaky hitter, who can light up first half months, and then from there he hits an annual slide.
Which means we may see Valencia as a regular through the end of May. At that point, if he's still flailing, the brain trust may move him out. Vogelbach is hitting .289-.365-.400 with one 2B in Tacoma. He's .278-.341-.417 vs. RHP, BTW. I'm ready to see him up, but will admit he's not (yet) sending AAA pitchers fleeing in terror. And really there isn't another AAA 1B option.
Segura gets rostered pretty soon, of course. It is possible that Freeman gets DFA'ed, although I wouldn't be surprised if we go back to a 12-man bullpen, and keep both of them up. With Segura in the fold, you might see a lot more of Motter at 1B, as we pick and choose to play Valencia vs. LHP, primarily.
There are some options available, for sure. But that still doesn't get at the question of whether Valencia is broken (K% and lack of any pop) or just jinxed (BABIP).
Personally, I think he's a bit more broken than anything else. He's mostly broken, I suppose, just as Wesley in The Princess Bride was mostly dead. Can Edgar be a Miracle Max and revive him? Perhaps his streaky nature revives itself? I'm not betting anything that I'm afraid to lose that he gets white hot any time soon. But he has to hit somewhat better, although that isn't saying much. He can't hit somewhat worse.
In the end, Jerry D. is going to make the call on him. Clearly, Valencia is a worrisome blip on his radar screen, but I'm not sure the boss is ready to jetison him yet. The hot May ('16) and June ('15) probably gives Danny a bit of rope. However, right now we're packing four everyday dead bats: Dyson, Martin, Zunino and Valencia. Running 4 guys out there who are below the Mendoza line is no recipe for success, Zeus or no Zeus. The Martin issue may go away as indications are that Heredia is going to get some increasing reps. Two thumbs up.
I'm trusting Zunino will find some sort of mojo again.
Dipoto has a man crush on Dyson as a player.
And then there is Valencia. Maybe Motter keeps hitting bullets and plays himself into fulltime a 1B/Utility gig. 1B vs. RHP and utility (resting Cano, Seager and Dyson) vs. LHP. I could easily see that. But anyway you slice it, you have to be concerned about Valencia. He spent most of his career as a specialty tool, mashing LHP. The last two seasons his bat has demanded a bigger vR role. this year, we're not seeing either.
If he hits soon, good. If he doesn't soon, send him away and give me Vogs or the Motter solution.
What's up Doc, and the rest of you guys, too?