Padres third baseman Chase Headley isn’t worth trading for


(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The losses kept piling up for the San Diego Padres and, as a result, General Manager Josh Byrnes was relieved of his duties Sunday.

“When you invest 50 percent more money over the last two years, in terms of payroll, you expect better performance,” executive chairman of the team Ron Fowler said. “We gave baseball ops a clean slate as far as who did they want, what did they want to do. For my perspective, we are standing here as a consequence of that not working.”

“Everybody’s looking at themselves in the mirror,” third baseman Chase Headley said. “It doesn’t start with anybody, doesn’t stop with anybody. Everybody’s disappointed with how the season’s going, and when a team performs this way, changes are going to be made.”

Some of those changes could involve Headley himself, who said he doesn’t want to negotiate a contract extension during the regular season.

“We made it abundantly clear [before] that we didn’t want to talk about it during the season,” Headley told MLB.com last  season. “I didn’t think that for me and for the team that it was good to get caught up with all of this during the season.”

The Padres, on the other hand, would like to conduct a fire sale, and if Headley isn’t likely to sign an extension, he could find himself on another team at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Caveat emptor, MLB.

Headley finished fifth in the MVP voting in 2012 after leading the league in RBI (115) and batting (.286 with 31 homers.) A year later his production came back down to earth (.250 average, 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 141 games) and now the 30-year-old is struggling even more, hitting .200 with six homers and 23 RBI.

Part of the problem is a lack of discipline at the plate. Headley is walking less and swinging at fewer pitches inside the strike zone.

Headley, a switch hitter, has also become a frequent victim of breaking balls in the dirt, hacking away at anything below the strike zone.

CHeadley whiffs per swing 2014

The MVP-caliber hitter who put the ball in play all over the field in 2012 has struggled in 2014, with very little action on the third-base side of the diamond.


Source: Fangraphs

And even when he does make contact, Headley is not driving the ball nearly as far as he did even a year ago.

His fielding is also getting worse. According to Inside Edge data on Fangraphs, Headley is making just 76.5 percent of plays that fall into the “likely” category. In other words, he is making close to the low end of plays that should be made 60 to 90 percent of the time. Last season he made 90.3 percent of those plays.

This is more than a former MVP unhappy with his current environment. This is a player on a severe decline.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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