"Splitsville" is a series of articles on the Nationals' prospects that we'll be doing throughout their minor league careers. In version one/chapter one (v1.1) of Cristian Guerrero, we'll look how he did against the right-handed pitchers versus the southpaws, how he hit with runners in scoring position, and more.
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Fourth Organization: Cristian Guerrero, the 25-year old cousin of the Angels' Vladmir Guerrero, was signed by the Nationals in the offseason prior to the start of the 2005 season, making it his fourth organization since originally signing with the Milwaukee Brewers way back in 1997. Cristian entered the 2005 season with a career .271 batting average with 59 home runs in 634 minor league games. Guerrero, whose previous career high in home runs was 14 (hit in 2000), spent time with in the Mariners and Angels' organizations before being granted free agency in the winter of 2004. He set a career high in home runs in 2005 with 17 long balls. For the purpose of this article, we'll focus on his time in AA-Harrisburg.
Better Against Right-Handed Pitchers: The 6'7", right-handed hitting Guerrero would seem to be an imposing figure, especially against left-handed pitchers. However, as his 2005 splits with the Harrisburg Senators reveal, that is simply not the case. Guerrero actually hit 46 points higher against right-handed pitchers than he did against lefties.
Guerrero, who hit just .235 against southpaws this past season, batted .281 against right-handed pitchers and collected 13 of his 16 home runs against them while playing with Harrisburg. In a weird twist however, Guerrero showed a better batting eye against lefties. His walk ratio against left-handed pitchers (.093) was nearly twice as good as against right-handers (.057).
Commerce Comfort: Perhaps one of the more odd stats among Guerrero's splits with Harrisburg this past season was the huge disparity in the number of home and road games. Guerrero wound up playing 18 more games at Commerce Bank Park, home of the Harrisburg Senators, than he did on the road in 2005. That was good news for Guerrero's batting average, who hit .279 at home and just .250 on the road.
Once again however, Guerrero's averages don't add up with his walk ratio however. Despite playing in 18 less road games, he managed to draw 12 more walks away from Commerce Bank Park. That equates to a .120 walk ratio on the road and just a .030 walk ratio at home. Guerrero's splits, as odd as it may seem, appear to show he's a better hitter when he's not drawing walks!
Earned His Promotion: Cristian Guerrero played his final four games of the season with AAA-New Orleans, homering in his first game at the highest minor league level. He earned his promotion from AA on the strength of his hot hitting in his final two months with Harrisburg. In fact, Guerrero only got stronger as the season wore on.
He struggled mightily coming out of Spring Training, hitting just .206 in his first 19 games with the Senators. Guerrero turned things around as the summer approached however, batting .271 in his next 48 games before hitting .301 over his following 44 games, a big reason for the late season call-up to New Orleans.
Anywhere But Nine: If there is anything that Cristian Guerrero proved in 2005, it would be that he's clearly not a #9 hitter in the batting order. While that may seem quite logical to even the most passive observer of the Nationals prospects, especially given his balanced combination of power and speed, the Senators batted Guerrero ninth in the lineup in 26 games this past season.
The problem with that was Guerrero batted just .175 as the team's #9 hitter this past season. In fact, if you threw out just his at-bats hitting at the bottom of the order, Guerrero would have hit a more respectable .287 for Harrisburg in 2005. He drew just one walk in 57 at-bats while batting 9th and struck out once in less than every three at-bats in that spot in the batting order.
Not So Fast: Cristian Guerrero's 14 stolen bases with Harrisburg in 2005 appear very impressive, especially considering his stature. But a closer look behind the numbers show that all 14 of his stolen bases came as part of double steals. The fact that he didn't steal one base on his own puts his base stealing abilities into perspective.
Line Them Up: Where Cristian Guerrero really stood out in 2005 was hitting with runners on base. While he hit just .256 with the bases empty this past season, Guerrero simply got better when there were ducks on the pond. He batted .280 with runners on base, including a higher walk ratio and a lower strikeout ratio during those situations.
Just like his cousin, Vladmir Guerrero, Cristian proved to be a consistent producer with runners in scoring position. He hit a robust .323 with runners in scoring position, including half of his home runs on the year. It is his clutch hitting, not only in 2005 but in years past, that makes him such an intriguing prospect.
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