May 25, 2010, 12:44 PM EDT
Over the weekend Mike Scioscia told the slumping Brandon Wood to avoid even picking up a bat during his time off, and in what seems like an awfully big coincidence Maicer Izturis is now ready to come off the disabled list and Wood has developed a hip injury that figures to put him on the shelf.
Wood has been absolutely brutal, hitting .156 with 36 strikeouts in 39 games, so I certainly don’t blame the Angels for wanting to hand third base over to Izturis. However, the issue is that Wood is out of minor-league options and thus can’t be demoted to Triple-A without first passing through waivers. He can be placed on the DL and then sent out on a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment, though, which is seemingly what the Angels have in mind.
Meanwhile, the bigger question is whether Wood can already be labeled a lost cause. A first-round pick way back in 2003, he cracked Baseball America‘s annual top-100 list four different times, including ranking No. 3 in 2006, No. 8 in 2007, and No. 18 in 2008. And yet now he’s 25 years old with a ghastly .179 batting average and ridiculous 110/9 K/BB ratio in 364 plate appearances.
Baseball history is filled with guys who struggled mightily as young players only to become stars and certainly 364 plate appearances spread over parts of four seasons is hardly definitive proof that someone can’t hit big-league pitching, but he’s beyond simple struggles at this point. In addition to the .179 batting average, Wood has whiffed in over 30 percent of his trips to the plate while drawing nine measly walks in 125 games and hasn’t even shown much power.
Add it all up and he has a .481 OPS, which is the fourth-worst total among all hitters with at least 350 plate appearances through the age of 25 since MLB lowered the pitching mound in 1969. The only guys with a lower OPS through age 25 in the past 40-plus years are John Vukovich, Luis Gomez, and Terry Humphrey, who combined for .201 career batting average.
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