- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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Jon Weisman of the Dodger Thoughts blog has a good piece on the ups and downs of Chad Billingsley, leading me to think of five other players whose performance has left me a little confused this season.
Drew Stubbs, CF, Reds: He thought he was a breakthrough performer last season with 22 home runs and 30 steals. But the strikeout rate is even higher this year (he leads the NL with 170), and while he plays a good center field and has swiped 32 bases, his .248/.321/.380 batting line isn't impressive for the Great American Ballpark. His .612 road OPS -- combined with all those whiffs -- has you wondering about his future.
Andre Ethier, RF, Dodgers: Ethier appeared to be heading to a monster season after his 30-game hitting streak in April and May. But he's hit a lackluster .251 with a .712 OPS since the streak ended. After making $9.5 million this season, he has one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency. He's not a good defensive outfielder and turns 30 in 2012. He suddenly doesn't look like a $10 million-a-year player anymore.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners: After posting a .920 OPS in April, Smoak looked like the hitter everyone had projected when Seattle got him from Texas last summer in the Cliff Lee trade. But he hasn't hit much since and has been out since early August after getting hit in the face with a groundball. His .220/.317/.387 line may have been aggravated by a thumb injury and blisters that he tried to play through. Nonetheless, he's now played 200 big-league games and has a career average of .219.
Rick Porcello, P, Tigers: Bottom line ... despite the stuff, he doesn't get enough batters out, with a 5.17 ERA, high WHIP and low strikeout rate. He's still so young (22) that he can improve, but unless he develops a strikeout pitch, he's never going to be more than the No. 4 or 5 starter he is right now.
Wade Davis, P, Rays: Another pitcher with good stuff and high expectations, Davis has battled inconsistency in his second season. Despite his power arm, he's averaging even fewer strikeouts per nine than Porcello, as he's dropped from 6.1 as a rookie to 4.8. His 4.28 ERA looks OK, but he's pitching in a good pitcher's park with a pretty good defense behind him. Does he still have No. 2 potential or is he a bottom-of-the-rotation fodder?
Who confuses you? Discuss below.