With the demotion of Tyler Greene making room for Felipe Lopez on the St. Louis roster, Tyler Henley hit the DL in Memphis. Henley’s injury seems either self-evident in the numbers he’s posted for 2010 or opportune for a player who is struggling mightily at the plate.
It’s certainly too early to think that the 2010 body of work at Memphis is predictive of anything but the peripherals are still descriptive of the issues Henley is having at the plate. With a pre-2010 ISO career rate of ~.165, Henley has seen a precipitous decline in power this season. Henley had yet to hit a HR in over 100 PAs and managed just a measly .090 ISO. Henley’s power ceiling is not particularly high. He hit 13 HRs in 2009 with 31 doubles at Springfield. That’s likely the upper limit as he was hitting in a league friendly to the batter and his frame just doesn’t lend itself to a significant power stroke. To project Henley for anything significantly beyond a .160 ISO in the majors seems overly optimistic.
The power isn’t the only problem and is just a small part of Henley’s overall downtick this season. His approach at the plate has taken a beating. The walk rate is down and the strikeouts are up nearly 50%. There are slight changes in his batted ball profile but they could simply be noise in the stringing. Henley’s certainly had some bad luck with a line drive rate at 22% and a BABIP of just .257. All things being equal, we’d expect a BABIP in the .320-.340 range for his batted ball profile. The decreased contact rate is far more disturbing though.
Henley’s offensive profile was predicated on having doubles power and putting the ball in play consistently. He was never a prolific walker but he checked that with good speed and not striking out. If Henley is suffering through a small injury, it could go a long way toward explaining the power outage and the strikeouts. That’s not a certainty though. When Henley returns, watch the strikeouts and the power — if they return to career rates quickly, then there’s little to worry about.