Regression hitting Cantu hard

Readers of Marlin Maniac know that it has been the site’s policy to not follow along with the Jorge Cantu bandwagon. In fact, the site does not jump on any bandwagons, because bandwagons generally come along with the inevitable regression to the mean. Regression happens to everyone, and Jorge Cantu was no exception. His hot April start was undoubtedly over his head, but who knew that the regression would come this quickly (and appropriately)?

Cantu started off April with .311/.354/.567 slash line that was good for a Ryan Howard-esque .393 wOBA. Since then, however, his numbers have suffered through some bad luck, as he’s hit just .225/.256/.380 in May. Neither of these, of course, are representative of Cantu’s hitting capabilities, but I found it very strange that the composite line has regressed quite nicely to his previous career marks:

Cantu, 2010: .273/.311/.484, .341 wOBA
Cantu, 2008: .277/.327/.481, .346 wOBA
Cantu, career: .278/.323/.458, .335 wOBA

Sure, I cherry-picked this particular day because of the similarity, but the similarity is still pretty astonishing to me given how well Cantu started the season. That 2010 line is almost a dead-on imitation of his 2008 total season and it is also pretty close to his career total. The imitation of the 2008 season is particularly intriguing, and it does not stop at the slash line and wOBA, but moves into the early plate discipline numbers as well.

Cantu, 2010: 34.3% O-Swing%, 67.7% Z-Swing%, 49.7% Swing%, 79.4% Contact%
Cantu, 2008: 32.6% O-Swing%, 70.4% Z-Swing%, 51.6% Swing%, 81.0% Contact%

Cantu is swinging at similar numbers of pitches in and out of the zone, and this has led to similar results early in the season. However, if the season plays out like the ZiPS in-season projection is estimating, Cantu’s year might end on the short end of both 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Cantu got his .346 wOBA primarily through his power numbers;  his career-high 29 home runs led to a .204 ISO. However, in 2009, the power slipped drastically, potentially due to an early season wrist injury. However, Cantu’s walks were up slightly and he had a better BABIP, leading to a .289 average and .345 OBP. However, the rest-of-season projection of .272/.326/.446 takes the lowered average and walk rate of 2008 and pairs it with the average power of 2009, yielding just a .339 wOBA to finish the year. It is not much of a difference (three to four runs by the end of the year), so it isn’t much to quibble about, but I’m sure Marlins fans (even me!) would like to see Cantu combine the best of his two seasons with the Fish instead.

Tags: Jorge Cantu Miami Marlins

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