April 25, 2011
Congratulations to the San Diego Padres! They're now in the rear with the gear, having scored a league-low 63 runs through 22 games.
And, thanks to a note tweeted on Sunday by Geoff Young of Ducksnorts, we know that one player has been particularly anemic.
By further comparison, the pitchers of the NL are batting .136/.164/.168 (for a .332 OPS) collectively. The pitchers on 10 individual teams are hitting better than the 31-year-old Hawpe.
"He's trying awful hard," the North County Times has quoted manager Bud Black as saying. "He's working to get his swing back to where it needs to be. We see the bat speed. We're not seeing the consistent hard contact."
He's enduring a kind of physical injury — or a major crisis in confidence — that he's playing (unsuccessfully) through. This isn't some guy who got lucky with one good season. In the very recent past, you wanted Brad Hawpe in the middle of your lineup.
He didn't get a ton of credit for it, but from 2006-2009, Brad Hawpe was one of the NL's top slugging outfielders, hitting 99 home runs and putting up a robust offensive line: .288/.384/.518. His one All-Star season came in 2009.
Before you say "Coors Field," realize that Hawpe's adjusted OPS — which accounts for a friendlier home park, along with other factors — was still 124 in that span. That's 16th in the NL and 31st in the majors among qualifiers.
Purple Row notes that Hawpe's dropoff started in in the second half of 2009, around the time he turned 30. His numbers (.245/.338/.419) slipped to rookie levels in 2010. His 39 at-bat turn with Tampa Bay (.179/.304/.333) was particularly dreadful.
He had some injuries in '10: He sustained a concussion after getting hit in the back of the neck with a throw. His left quad nagged him; so did a pulled ribcage.
Whatever started to bother Hawpe is lingering, and it's threatening his career.