Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Vernon Wells is having such a spectacularly awful season that during his team’s recent road trip to Toronto, he raided his former team’s video library in an attempt to find out exactly what’s happened to his formerly not as bad swing.
According to V-Dub:
2006 is the year I’m concentrating on. That was the year my average and power were where they should be. I’ve changed stances from my hands to my feet, and it’s changed my approach. My mechanics have been out of whack at different times.
In 2006, Vernon Wells was only 27 years old. He’s now 32, and he looks like it. If it were only a matter of studying video to relearn the mechanics that found him success, perhaps he should have tried this method for improvement in 2007, 2008, 2009, or heck even his resurgent year in 2010, which was still two wins above replacement less than his 2006 season.
But before V-Dub looks too deeply into his past, he might want to consider what changes to his mechanics might mean to the pursuit of a record. Right now, Wells’ .236 OBP is the third worst among qualified batters since 1920. Only Hal Lanier for the 1968 Giants and Andres Thomas for the 1989 Braves finished a season in which they qualified for the batting title and had a worse on base percentage than Wells has right now.
ZiPS currently projects 142 more plate appearances this season for Wells, which means he’d have to get on base less than 26 more times the rest of the way out in order to get lower than Lanier’s shockingly bad .222 on base percentage in ’68. A .176 OBP is bad, even by Wells’ standards, right?
Wrong. Over his last 80 plate appearances, Wells has put up a .171 OBP. And so if Wells can maintain his current play at the plate this record is very much in play.
After earning $23 million this season, the Angels will still owe Wells $63 million over three years. So, you know, even if he doesn’t do it this season, there’s still 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Wells to break the record.