Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kennys Vargas, switch hitter

Joe Mauer greets Kennys Vargas at home plate
Wednesday after Vargas mashed his first career
right-handed home run.

Kennys Vargas made his major league debut Aug. 1. He had a double and two RBIs that day, and hasn't stopped hitting since.

Wednesday night he homered -- right-handed. It was the switch-hitter's sixth homer in the majors, but his first off a left-hander.

For what it's worth -- and that's very little, as Vargas hasn't had even close to 100 plate appearances from either side of the plate -- he entered Wednesday's game hitting .351/.373/.597 against right-handers, .264/.286/.340 versus lefties. He didn't have the reputation in the minors (as Aaron Hicks did) of struggling from one side of the plate, and I know of no reason to believe that that differential will persist as the sample size increases.

I am more concerned about the warped walk-strikeout rate he's displayed: 37 strikeouts in his first 139 plate appearances with just four walks. It's exceedingly difficult for a hitter to sustain success with a BB/K ratio that out of balance. But his BB/K ratios in the minors weren't that out-of-whack, and, again, we're not talking about a lot of at-bats.

August was a very good month for the big guy. September's first few days have been even better. We can find red flags in the production, but it's better to enjoy it.

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