I think we can all agree that there have been copious amounts of articles, posts and web blogs trying to figure out Mike Pelfery. There have been posts discussing Mike’s true ability level to posts about his mental state. While I’m not Dr. Phil, I think there’s a much simpler explanation to Mike’s early season struggles than what has been previously explored. BABIP. Now I know it's early in the season and we’re dealing with really small sample size issues, but I really think BABIP is the root cause of Big Pelfs problems. However, since this is AA and since the amount of words I’ve used so far will cause everyone to tell me this should’ve been a FanShot, let’s take a closer look into the numbers.
As we all know, Pelfrey is currently hitting .000/.000/.000/.000 with one strikeout. For those that prefer the advanced stats, Mike currently is sporting a .000 wOBA with a 20.0% K rate. While Mike has never been the most gifted hitter, this is a far cry from his career .237 OPS and .116 wOBA. That being said, his 0.0% BB rate is fairly close to his career 3.8% BB rate as well as his current .000 ISO being pretty much in line with his career .010 ISO. In addition, his 20.0% K rate is actually an improvement from his 27.4% career K rate. So what has really changed? Well Mike’s BABIP stands at .000 while is his career BABIP is .125. Thus, Mike’s early season struggles might not be a problem only a psychologist can solve but simply a matter of Mike going through a rough patch of bad luck to start the season.
Of course, maybe it is somewhat mental for Pelfrey. After Chris Young’s debut against the Phillies, in which Young had three hits, Wright was quoted to say "I didn’t realize he was such a good hitting pitcher. It just makes Pelfrey look that much worse." While I still contend that Wright is a great leader for the Mets, he clearly dropped the ball calling out Pelfrey for no good reason during what should’ve been a time of good feelings in the Mets clubhouse. Rather than ignore Wright’s dig at him, Pelfrey stated that, "I’m not going for average anymore. I’m swinging for the fences. Don’t miss down the middle." The problem here is two-fold and perhaps explain Mike’s poor BABIP, for one, Pelfrey decided to change what worked for him and change his approach and two, he blatantly told opponents how to pitch to him. Or so it would appear.
Here are Pelfrey’s pitch fx charts, via texasleaguers
As we can see, not only have opposing pitchers not been deterred to not "miss[ing] down the middle" but Mike taken pitches thrown down the middle as well. We can also see from the charts that Mike has not chased too many pitches outside the zone. So, while Mike has stated that he is trying to hit for more power, it appears that his approach to the plate remains as solid as it has been throughout his career. This leads me to believe that, while Mike has been going through a well-documented poor start to his season, his .000 BABIP simply cannot continue. I’m willing to bet that by the end of the season, Big Pelf’s season line will probably look much closer to his .091/.136/.101 and we’ll all laugh at the arm chair physiology performed at the beginning of the season.
Or you know, he can stop ordering from this Chinese food place I passed in the financial district.