Can Mientkiewicz Hit?

The Yankees signing of Doug Mientkiewicz didn’t make many headlines, understandably. I argued in this place that the Yankees should have signed Mark Loretta (who signed with Houston to be a utilityman – how no one could use him as a starter is beyond me) but Mientkiewicz was my second choice, so I can live with it. The one phrase that I keep hearing though when Mientkiewicz is discussed, is “offensively – challenged.” I seem to remember him being a batting title contender at one point so I thought I’d look into just how poor a hitter Mientkiewicz is. The following list compiles his BA, OBP, OPS since he became a regular in 2001.

  • 2001: .306, .387, .851
  • 2002: .261, .365, .757
  • 2003: .300, .393, .843
  • 2004: (Min) .246, .340, .703
  • 2004: (Bos) .215, .286, .604
  • 2005: .240, .322, .729
  • 2006: .283, .359, .770

So clearly in 2001 and 2003 Mientkiewicz COULD hit. And get on base. While it is true at no time did he hit really for power (2001 15HRs and .464 SLG being his career highs) the Yankees of course don’t need him to. Mientkiewicz’s worst seasons were 2004 and 2005, both of which saw him with limited ABs. In 2006 his stat line improved, though he again missed time with injury. His career line of .270, .359, and .764 is pretty close to what he did last year. At age 32, Mientkiewicz isn’t so old that his production should be slipping drastically. If (and of course this is always the big if) he stays healthy, it is reasonable to expect similar numbers. So really, best case, Mientkiewicz should provide average to above average on base ability, below average power, and above average defense (and also worth noting- he is difficult to strikeout). We know he is an asset defensively; but if he gets on base at roughly a .360 clip (which is better than the league average) he will score runs in this powerful Yankee lineup. Andy Phillips’ OBP last year? .281.

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