The Cubs didn’t bring Carlos Pena in to hit one extra base hit in his first 60 PA. The Cubs brought Pena in to have a legitimate power source from the left side, and so far Pena has been anything but that.
Pena’s line going into today’s game is 188/322/208 which is to say pathetic. Of qualified 1B only James Loney has a lower OPS (.414) at his point in the season and no 1B has a lower SLG, and in fact only 5 players in all of baseball have a lower slugging percentage than Pena. So whats the problem?
Well the short answer I am going to give you is: I don’t have a clue. Now you are asking why in the hell are you writing a damn article about it then. Well the reason I am is because I am not going to panic (at least not yet) about his slow start. Pena’s peripheral stats look pretty much like his career numbers. Hitting similar line drives, fly balls, and ground balls. He isn’t swinging at more pitches outside the zone. He is making contact at the same rate. He has struck out a little bit more than usual, but not enough to throw up a red flag. No the only place that the numbers are way off is the home runs per fly balls stat.
For his career Pena has hit HR’s at a percentage of 20.3% of all fly balls. So what this means is that for ever 5 fly balls Pena hits one of them goes over the fence. As you most likely know Pena hasn’t hit a single one this year. Pena has hit 13 fly balls this season so for his season he would have hit around two or three. If lets say two of those leave the park instead of landing for outs it moves Pena’s line up to a more acceptable 229/356/375, and if three of them leave the park it jumps all the way to 250/373/458.
Another reason not to be concerned is Pena has gone this long before without a HR. Last year he went 19 games in a row without a HR from April 29th to May 19th. He still ended the season with 28 home runs. In 2009 he went 21 games with only hitting one home run in that span, and he ended up with 39 home runs.
So what I am saying is relax. I still think Pena will be alright, but if another week goes by and still no home runs, then maybe we can start to worry, but for now he is 3 fly balls going to little further from being one of the worst 1B in baseball to outplaying Albert Pujols at this point in the season.