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Scary News: David DeJesus May Never Slug Over .400 Again

It's a now annual excercise to look at David DeJesus's PECOTA card and lament the lack of anything exciting. Of course, DeJesus is 29 now, and although we're living in the David DeJesus Era, we've come to accept him for what he is: a very useful, if unspectacular player.

Only, it's a little more complicated now if he isn't going to be playing centerfield.

Here's DDJ's triple slash stats from the last three seasons:

2006 .295 .364 .446
2007 .260 .351 .372
2008 .307 .366 .452

A few things stand out here, especially just how bad his 2007 was, and how much 2008 was a nice return to form. Of course, being steady ole David, we hardly noticed the low or the relative high. The one weird thing is what happened to his walk rate last season, dropping from 9.6% in 2007 to 8.2% last season. This second number, 8.2% is actually where DeJesus has been most of his career: 8.3% in both '04 and '05, 8.1% in '06. David's walk rate isn't the issue of this post, but it is interesting to point out that, amidst as we are in stories about DeJesus adjusting to a new lineup spot, it should be said that in a sense he's already been doing so for awhile: he's swinging more and taking less.

No, the issue here is power, and DeJesus's problematic relationship to it. Which is to say a lack of it. (Like my problematic relationship to living above ground, for example... better just stay in the basement.) Anyway, David's been able to consistently post mid .400 SLGs in his career, thanks to a few homers (career high is 12) solid doubles ability and a smattering of triples. But it's all good, right? He hit that career high for homers just last season, and posted an eighty point slugging rebound.

Let's take a look at the XBH numbers from, again, the last three years. (I'm not cherry picking here, 2006 is basically identical to 2005, and represents "standard DDJ" pretty well, I just don't feel like writing more years than I have to.)

2Bs 3Bs HRs
2006 36 7 8
2007 29 9 7
2008 25 7 12

Which guy would you rather have, the 2006 guy or the 2008 version? Would you give up eleven doubles for four homers? Probably, it's a wash according to most statistical models (feel free to let me know if I'm wrong).

So what's the problem? Well, looking at it, every statistical projection system has DeJesus regressing in 2009. Here are the slugs they spit out: .421, .406, .412, .416, .428. PECOTA , the least sanguine, gives a .395 slugging for his 50th percentile projection, and a weighted mean of .401. Not surprisingly, DeJesus's slugs the rest of his career are veering down to the Gload zone: .392, .389, .387, .372, then a brief late-career bump back into the .390s.

This is not good news for a guy moving towards a corner. Essentially, no objective modeling system, sees 2008 as anything more than a blip, a fluky career year thanks to a random high HR/rate. I could dismiss one bad projection, but not five, all saying the same thing. Perhaps most depressing is DeJesus's 90th percentile projection: .311/.378/.467. This is still a damn good year, maybe a borderline downballot MVP campaign if DeJesus plays well afield, but look at the slug again. PECOTA is saying DeJesus is going to have to go nuts just to slug at the level he did at his old peak.

Did anyone have any idea this was going on? Assuage my fears. Tell me that the Crisp & DeJesus combination in the field isn't going to handicap the offense too much. Tell me that DeJesus hasn't hit some secret wall that none of us saw coming.