Diamondbacks Spring Spotlight: Chad Tracy

Diamondbacks Spring Spotlight: Chad Tracy

Chad Tracy was once a great prospect. After an exceptionally good first full year in 2005, most fans were very optimistic of what the future may hold. To say the least, it was a disappointing season in 2006. Major categories dropped for Tracy. (HR'S, AVG, OBS, SLG, and OPS) There are a few major question marks for Tracy in 2007.

Known for his high average in the minors, will Chad Tracy hit over .310?

Power comes in bunches, great seasons come with consistency.  He has shown in the past that he has peaks and valleys. In his short experience so far in the majors he shoots out of the gate in April with a .314 avg. Then he slumps down to .267 in May, but hops way up to .331 in June. July drops him down to .276 and he then steadily increases to .288 in August. He does finish strong however with his best month of all with .339 in September.  Leveling these things out is the key not just to a .310+ average, but to keep protecting the younger hitters around him in the lineup.

Can he produce power out of the hot corner? 

This past off season Tracy spent in two places, the cage and the weight room.  His roller coaster seasons, he feels, have to do with conditioning.  Expect Tracy to arrive in Tucson next week in the best shape of his life.  Will this conditioning result in home run totals in the 30s is anyone's guess, but coming up scouts never saw Tracy being a 40 homer guy, so even mid 20s would be nice.  Regardless this is the season in which he will be looked to, from day one, as a leader.  He will hold the third longest tenure of any player in the D'Backs staring lineup, he will likely be hitting cleanup, and his consistency will not be counted on, it will be expected.  Young players go through slumps, and it generally takes longer for them to break out of them.  With Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Miguel Montero all entering their first full seasons, and Conor Jackson entering just his second full term, Tracy will be the man, for power, for protection, for everything.

Will his strike outs come down and will his walks go up?

Like the Kentucky Wildcats, Tracy was all about the press in '06.  After a 27 homer '05, Tracy knew the biggest gaping hole in his game, and the D'Backs lineup, was a lack of power.  The ball wasn't traveling, the team wasn't winning, and Tracy started pressing.  Nobody in the game (nobody playing it legally anyway) tries to hit home runs.  Tracy did, and thus Tracy hit a lot of two hoppers to second, worse yet, he amped himself up and looked bad swinging over sliders down and in.  There is no reason to believe the pressure on Tracy in '07 will be any less, but his ability to handle it should improve, and thus the K's and walks should even out a bit.

The good news for Tracy is that nobody in the D'Backs system is breathing down his neck. The bad news for fans is that this means there isn't any pressure to inspire motivation. All of Tracy's numbers can be improved but he needs to find a new gear to reach that level.  What ever the case may be, statistically those peaks and valleys are there. To take this a step further would be to say that he can very well have yearly peaks and valleys. It could end up that 2007 is his June and he could break out with an All-Star season.

Some questions appear to have answers.  It wouldn't be unusual for Tracy to have that sophomore slump due to the longer season.  In season one players are running on adrenaline the entire year, there is no such thing as being tired, because they've just realized their dream.  But in season two players feel the effects of a 162 game season for the first time. 

If Tracy can find a way to be more consistent throughout the year, this would stabilize a very young lineup that needs leadership. It's extremely unlikely that Tracy will ever hit more than 35 HR'S but with the emergence of Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and Conor Jackson the D'Backs do not need that many long balls. Consistency will win games for the D'Backs this year simply because of the youth that is emerging in the NL West. A consistent Tracy can be the rock of the lineup, the man who leads the D'Backs  It also doesn't hurt to have 2 Cy Young award winners on the mound…

 

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