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by user Timothy Moreland(Bball3345)
In 2003, at the age of 27, Edgar Renteria broke through with the best offensive season of his first eight years. While his defense at SS was below average, as usual, Renteria posted a batting line of .330/.394/.480. Along with this came 34 SBs, 100 RBIs, and 96 runs. These stats were good enough to award Renteria the title of best shortstop in the NL and placed him second in VORP for major league shortstops behind the great Alex Rodriguez. Witnessing a peak year at 27 appeared to be a preview of more great years to come; however, this was not the case.
The following season, Renteria’s offense slipped down to his previous level as a below average shortstop. His 2004 season was his worst overall year since joining the Cardinals in 1999. Base stealing was not the weapon it had been in 2003 (17 SB/11 CS). At the end of 2004, Renteria was granted free agency and signed by the Red Sox.
In 2005, Renteria’s offense did not improve, while his defense reached an all-time low, committing 30 errors. 2005 would be the worst year of Renteria’s career, coming in what should have been a prime year at 29 years old. For the second straight season, his team would decide not to retain Renteria’s services. On December 8, 2005, Andy Marte, a top Atlanta prospect, was traded to Boston for Renteria and cash.
On his new team, Renteria had to fill the big shoes of Rafael Furcal. Furcal had been a tremendous offensive shortstop, a valuable leadoff hitter, and a fielder with tremendous range. It would take a return to his 2003 performance for Renteria to come close to matching the value Furcal provided the Braves. Equally pressuring, the Braves had parted with their future 3Bmen in the trade.
Thus far in 2006, Renteria has been the Braves most valuable offensive player, along with Andruw Jones. This year’s batting line of .349/.410/.481 tops 2003 in all three areas. There appears to be two reasons behind his resurgence. First, he has seen an increase in linedrives and flyballs. In 2003, 24.0% of Renteria’s balls in play were linedrives. This dropped to 22.4% and 23.5% in 2004 and 2005, respectively. However, this year that number has jumped to 26.6%. Likewise, in 2003 his GB/FB ratio was 1.37. This rose to 1.51 and 1.63 in 2004 and 2005, respectively. This year, Renteria has put more balls into the air with a 1.23 ratio.
Coupling these two variables together comes to the second factor behind his improved batting numbers. The balls he has put into play are producing hits at a higher rate then the last two years. In 2003, Renteria’s batting average on balls in play was .348. Unfortunately, this fell sharply to .317 and .318 during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Following suit with the previous trends, this number has been a personal best in 2006 at .372.
While there is certainly some luck playing its part, it appears as though Renteria may have regained the batting skill he displayed in 2003. If he can just keep from becoming too great a liability in the field, his fine bat can continue to co-carry the team with Andruw Jones.
Fri 05/12/06, 9:41 am EST