Jimmy Paredes helped power the Orioles offense at the beginning of the season, but has been mostly ineffective since July. He only had two extra base hits in July and had a miniscule OBP of just .266. Despite being 26, Parades has had limited exposure to the major leagues before this season and has already set a career high for plate appearances. Do his July struggles indicate that he is merely in a slump or that pitchers have figured him out and that he’s regressing back towards his career statistics?
This first chart provides an excellent summary of his performance this season (stats downloaded from ESPN Stats and Information and accurate as of 8/2). Paredes has had limited exposure to left-handed pitchers and has mostly struggled against them with only a .583 OPS in 53 PAs. He received 22 PAs against left-handed pitching in May and put up an .182/.182/.227 line with a 31.8 K% and no walks. He’s only received 26 PAs against left-handed pitching since May and therefore isn’t used much against left-handed pitching. This indicates that he is nothing more than a platoon DH bat against solely right-handed pitching at the moment.
As the season has progressed, his strikeout rate has increased while his HR% has decreased. It is apparent that one of the main reasons why he was successful from April through June was due to a high BABIP.
This next chart shows how Paredes has performed vs hard pitches (Fastballs, Sinkers and Cutters) and soft pitches (Changeup, Curveball, Slider and Splitter) per month against solely right handed pitchers. One reason he struggled in July was because he was incapable of making contact with soft pitches and hit a large percentage of hard pitches into foul territory. Paredes is a very aggressive batter that doesn’t draw many walks, doesn’t have great contact rates and therefore needs to be productive when he does make contact.
The next chart shows how Parades has performed based on the type of pitch that he faced and whether or not it was put into play against only right handed pitching and shows another reason for his issues. He is successful when he puts balls into play regardless of whether they’re hard or soft pitches. However, in July, he was surprisingly unsuccessful against hard pitches and only hit 1 home run and 3 singles in twenty chances good for a .550 OPS (wOBA of .241). He performed exceptionally against “soft” pitches but his ISO is showing a downward trend.
This next chart shows his performance based on whether he puts the ball into play in a pitchers count (0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2), hitters count (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1) or even count (0-0, 1-1, 3-2) by month. The results are surprising because they indicate that he performed worst when making contact in a hitters count in July. In fact, the only time he got an extra base hit in July was in a pitchers count. This chart also shows that Paredes can be successful whenever in the count he makes contact. Indeed, when Parades put the ball in play, he was the 48th best batter out of 373 in pitchers counts, the 54th best out of 355 in even counts and the 25th best out of 296 batters in hitters’ counts against solely right handed pitching. These ranks suggest that his results are within the realm of reason and may be sustainable.
The next chart shows his performance based on whether the last pitch he sees is in a pitchers, hitter or even count by month regardless of whether he makes contact. The data indicate that most of his at-bats ended in a pitchers count and that he was struck out in about half of them. In July, he was struck out 60% of the time when an at bat ended in a pitchers count. It also indicates that he had a poor month, regardless of the count.
The bottom line is that Paredes is struggling because he’s unable to make consistent contact and therefore earns a large number of strikeouts. In order to be a valuable player, he needs to produce when he puts the ball into play and he simply wasn’t able to do that in July. It seems that he partially regressed and was partially in a slump.
Paredes should be seen as a project. It is difficult to give up on a player that is able to hit the ball with such authority and already has a very good tool. If he can find a way to better recognize soft pitches, then he’ll likely be able to make better contact and perhaps slightly cut down on his strikeouts.
As this chart below shows, Paredes does have an ability to lay off pitches early in the count (0-0, 1-0, 0-1) when he swings only 53.7% of the time. In these counts, he ends up having a 31.3 CallBall% and a wOBA of .480. In the middle of the count (1-1, 2-1, 2-0), he swings 64.6% of the time and ends up with a 25.8 CallBall% and a wOBA of .407. If he can find a way to be a more patient and willing to accept a called strike, than it would mean he would likely swing at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. Paredes has a .441 wOBA in these counts when hitting pitches in the strike zone and a .307 wOBA when swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, so this would be beneficial for him.
Buck said there's a good chance Paredes will come back next spring as a candidate to play regularly in right field. If he is able to play in right field, then he could potentially be a good platoon partner with Dariel Alvarez with Alvarez facing lefties and Paredes facing righties. Paredes won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2017 and doesn’t promise to be a player that will receive a large amount in arbitration. Such a platoon would have a strong chance of being successful and cheap for the next four years and thereby allow the Orioles to spend money on higher quality free agents.
Despite his July struggles, Paredes appears to be a promising piece. The Orioles’ may want to limit his at bats if he keeps struggling, but should try to keep him on the roster for next year and see if he can further develop.