Today on NJ.com, Marc Carig posted a quick hit on Hiroki Kuroda’s stance on hitting. When asked if he missed taking at-bats in the National League, Kuroda replied, “I don’t miss it at all.” Tonight Kuroda will make his third American League start, and he’ll be going against a fellow newcomer to the Junior Circuit. Jason Marquis has spent parts of 12 seasons in the NL, starting with the Braves and moving onto the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. Now, at age 33, he makes is AL debut. Life could get a bit rougher for him, too.
Like Kuroda, Marquis won’t miss holding a bat. In 625 career PA he’s a .197/.216/.283 hitter. In the last three seasons he’s gone 22 for 132, a .167 average, with just two walks. The only problem, however, is that while Marquis himself will not hold a bat, he also won’t face any opposing pitchers. That could be quite an issue for the low-strikeout Marquis.
For his career Marquis has struck out 974 of 7328 total batters faced, or a paltry 13.3 percent. Yet of those 974 strikeouts, 173 have come against the opposing pitcher. That amounts to 18 percent of his career strikeouts. Moreover, his career strikeout rate against pitchers is 33.1 percent, against 11.8 percent against non-pitchers. Last year only three qualified pitchers had strikeout rates below 11.8 percent: Jeff Francis, Carl Pavano, and Brad Penny. The results there weren’t particularly pretty.
What’s worse for Marquis is that his strikeout rate has declined since his mid-20s. From his age-21 through his age-25 seasons he struck out 16 percent of opposing batters. But from his age-26 through his age-32 seasons he has struck out just just 12.1 percent of all batters. Again, combined with his strikeout rate against pitchers — 30 percent since 2005 — it adds up to trouble when facing pitcher-less AL lineups. That goes doubly for a high-powered offense such as the Yankees.
From all appearances, Marquis seems set up to fail. He’s a lifetime NL pitcher who has a hard time generating swings and misses in the first place. Now he’s moving to the AL, where he not only has no pitcher on whom to pick, but also a full-time hitter with whom to contend. It makes me wonder whether we’re in store for what Mike terms a reverse lock. Are the Yanks so well match against Marquis that they’re destined for failure? I damn well hope not. This is one guy the Yanks should pound on and pick up a relatively easy victory against.