Placido Polanco Struggling To Stay Above Water With Miami Marlins

By Thom Tsang
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It almost seems redundant to write about a Miami Marlins batter (not named Giancarlo Stanton) struggling in 2013, doesn’t it?

Considering that this is an essentially a Double-A team playing in a nice, shiny (but mostly empty) MLB stadium, that the Fish are trouble hitting and scoring runs should not come as a great shock to anyone. Still, inconsistency at the plate is really something you’re more likely associate with young players like Adeiny Hechavarria, Rob Brantly, and Justin Ruggiano.

Not Placido Polanco, in any case. Not the steady veteran brought in to give the team some semblance of a major league team.

Yet, it seems even the most veteran-y player in Miami outside of Juan Pierre is not prone to the bout of offensive ineptitude going around the team these days. Though the 15-year veteran starting the year off well enough, even carrying a decent .286/.341/.333 triple-slash on a seven-game hitting streak into the last couple of days of April, the turn of the calendar month has not been kind to him.

Then again, you might even say that he’s performing exactly as a 37-year-old on the Marlins might.

After Tuesday’s 0-for-3 performance against a dominant Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds, Polanco’s average is all the way down .237, with a barely-useful .578 OPS to his name. That’s largely due to the fact that, despite getting off to a four-game hitting streak at the beginning of the month, the hot cornerman is hitting just .195/.283/.220 through 46 PA in May.

A big part of that is the fact that Polanco is a contact hitter who is having trouble with making contact, illustrated in numbers by a dramatic spike in his strikeout rate from 2.9 percent in April to 13 percent in May.

Oddly enough, the veteran is positively mashing against lefties thus far in 2013, with a .875 OPS over his 45 PA against southpaws. Now, his career splits does not suggest that as too much of an anomaly, but when you consider that he’s been all but useless against right-handers (.446 OPS over 103 PA), a straightforward ‘diminished skills with age’ narrative doesn’t really fit here.

Could a career-low 48 percent first pitch strikes be a culprit to his inability to produce in an rather unfitting role as a table setter? That seems somewhat reasonable.

Whether or not the Marlins really have another option, on the other hand …

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