Get Yer Guzman While He’s Hot

Over the years here, I’ve had alot to say about Cristian Guzman. Part of that is because he’s been on the team for the all 4 seasons I’ve been writing, and only a handful of guys can say that. But there’s also been quite a bit to say about him. He’s a middle infielder that was at one time the highest paid player on the team. He doesn’t walk ever, which means when he’s not hitting, he stinks, but when he is, he could lead the league in hits. He was asked to move positions. He had laser eye surgery that seemed to revive a completely derailed career. He’s a veteran who has been trade bait for two or three years.

It’s not just that I’ve said alot of things about him, it’s that I’ve said alot of bad things about him, mostly centered around his lack of walks and power. His AVG is usually what stats guys like to refer to as an “empty average”, as in, there’s nothing behind it. Lots of singles, not many extra base hits, no walks. But one thing about Cristian that isn’t acknowledged often enough, certainly not by me, is that when he’s hot, he is super hot. So what follows is something that hasn’t happened a ton here – praise of Guzman. I’ll start by saying that when he is hitting the ball like he is now, he absolutely positively has to be in the lineup, and is perfect hitting in the #2 spot on a team that expect to score runs.

Yeah, I said it, he is a valuable hitter, especially as a middle infielder, on this team right now. Since the beginning of the year, Guzman is hitting .328/.351/.430. That’s nice, pretty much the most you’d expect from him, but up until May 1, he was hitting a putrescent .262/.279/.357. Practically no walking, and an ISO under .100. But then he got hot. Since then, including his triple that really changed the game last night, he’s hit .455/.479/.568. He’s only had two games, in that stretch of 14 games, where he didn’t get at least one hit. And since it’s still so early in the year, he’s moved himself up to 5th place in the NL in batting average.

He has a history of doing this, especially since he’s come to the Nats. Here are a few of his truly torrid runs:

7/23/09 – 8/12/09: 20 G, 78 AB, .457/.493/.671, 1 game w/o a hit
4/6/09 – 5/18/09: 26 G, 122 AB, .385/.390/.500, 3 games w/o a hit
8/26/08 – 9/27/08: 25 G, 104 AB, .423/.445/.644, 4 games w/o a hit
5/3/08 – 5/30/08: 25 G, 106 AB, .343/.367/.533, 5 games w/o a hit
5/30/07 – 6/23/07: 21 G, 87 AB, .414/.464/.575, 5 games w/o a hit

I could find nothing in 2005, because, well, it was awful. Blame that on him not being able to see. Ok, sure, these are tiny sample sizes. A hot month doesn’t mean anything, right? That’s what you always hear, right? Well, yeah, a hot month doesn’t mean that guy is gonna hit like that all the time. But looking at these hot streaks, you see that when Guzman is hitting, he is really hitting. His cold streaks are just as bad as these are good. So when he’s on fire, he absolutely has to play every day. When he’s not, Riggleman needs to recognize it and give him plenty of rest. Who knows, maybe 2 or 3 games off in a row, in the middle of a cold streak, will lead him towards a hot streak. Because if he’s only hitting well for 2 months every year, he’s only got about 1 month left this season.

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