Taking One for the Team

By all accounts I think everyone would agree that Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Carlos Quentin has struggled this year. It began in Spring Training when a strange swing of the bat resulted in a partially torn labrum. This injury limited his playing time and resulted with him opening the regular season on the disabled list. Quentin was extremely eager to return to the game and make up for lost time. When he was recalled from the disabled list he wanted to immediately make an impact. This didn’t work quite as well as he had hoped and soon Carlos found himself in the midst of a slump something he has not been accustomed to during his brief professional career. Quentin’s batting average soon resembled one of Brandon Webb’s sinkers dipping and diving with each at bat. Carlos has always been known as a player who can be hard on himself and the lack of production he saw during the first half of the season made matters even worse. It was obvious from watching him that he didn’t seem to be having any fun. The Diamondbacks saw this too and felt it was time for a change.

They optioned Quentin to Triple-A Tucson to help him work out some of the kinks and to maybe have a little fun. Carlos accepted the demotion and challenged himself to resolve the issues he had to make this time in the minor leagues as short as possible. But where should he start? Well one place he should not look to improve is in his accumulation of Hit By Pitch. Quentin seems to be a magnet and/or a very large target. How else can you explain the fact that he was plunked 103 times during his brief minor league career? That trend did not stop when he reached the major leagues. After his call up on July 6, 2006 Quentin was hit 8 times. Well actually he was hit 10 times but home plate umpire Paul Emmel missed a call in Colorado and Ed Hickox missed a call in San Diego but I digress. Carlos Quentin didn’t waste any time after coming off the disabled list. He was hit by David Wells by a pitch on April 18. From then until his demotion on July 6 Quentin has been hit 9 times to lead the team by a comfortable margin. While playing for the Tucson Sidewinders this year after joining the team after the all-star break Quentin was hit by 3 pitches in 2 games bringing his minor league total to 106. After having some success in Tucson Quentin rejoined the Diamondbacks on July 27 and during that first game he collected his tenth hit by pitch. This was followed 4 days later when he was hit again this time by Padres pitcher Justin Germano. So he is now sitting on 11 for the year and 19 overall in his career. Considering he has 382 total at-bats at the major league level that means Quentin is plunked roughly 5 percent of the time. If Carlos can maintain that pace he would need just 5791 at-bats to break the all time record for Hit By Pitch. That is a very achievable feat. So next time you happen to see Quentin take the field cheer him on and remind him that while taking one for the team will not help his batting average it will increase his on-base percentage which is a more important stat anyways.

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