What’s Wrong With Coco Crisp?

Coco Crisp

“There’s nothing wrong with me. The hell’s wrong with you?!” (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

On June 14 Mike Petriello of FanGraphs published an informative article in which he said Coco Crisp is more valuable a player than many people realized. It was impossible to argue with him as Coco was slashing .301/.386/.505 at the time and had 13 steals to go with it. However, since June 15 Coco has struggled mightily, posting a sickly .194/.257/.224 line with just one extra-base hit in 25 games. He’s only swiped two bases in the past month and has also been caught twice. He doesn’t look anything like the dominating force he was earlier this season. So what happened? His plate discipline has gone out of the window.

The day after the article was written Coco was drawing walks at a 12.9%, a career-high for a season not shortened by injury. His 7.9% strikeout rate is a career-low by far as he’d never been below 10%. It looked like Coco had finally figured out how to become a true leadoff hitter by working the count and getting on base however possible. Since then, his walk percentage has fallen a bit to 11.4% and his strikeout percentage has ballooned to 10.8%.

Last month Coco’s overall swing percentage was hovering at around 37%, by far the lowest of his career. Now, it’s back up to 40.4% which is more in line with his career numbers. Despite swinging more, he’s making contact at pretty much the same rate before he started slumping, meaning he’s missing more now than before. Earlier this season, Coco was extremely selective on what he swung at, and his impressive swing and contact rates reflected that.

Since he’s been getting on base less he’s also been stealing less. Coco has just two steals this month and only stole two bases in June. After swiping 39 in 120 contests last year he has only 15 thefts in 74 games so far in 2013.

The power stroke that Coco flashed earlier this year seems to have fallen by the wayside, further compounding his offensive struggles. Coco did manage to get a base hit and steal a bag in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Angels, but the A’s need Coco to get back to where he was earlier this season to help the sluggish offense.

So what’s it going to take to get back to that level of performance? Being patient and getting on base. Coco has drawn just two walks all of July, and he has at least one strikeout in seven of the last eight games. Lately he’s gone back to his old ways of swinging early in the count and being overly aggressive. Coco and Chili Davis need to find a way to rein that back in.

You want your hitters to get in the box looking to do damage, but you want them to be smart about it. Coco has to re-evaluate his approach in order to get back on track.

So, is a rebound in the cards? It’s hard to say. Coco has looked extremely lost at the plate lately and isn’t having very good at-bats. He hasn’t been hitting well for over a month. However, his .268 BABIP suggests a hot streak could be just around the corner. I don’t expect Coco to get his slash line back to where it was in the beginning of June, but if he can get on base at a .350 clip and get back to stealing bags I’ll be more than pleased. We all want it to hurry up and happen, but like Coco we need to be patient.

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