Carlos Quentin has been holding down the 5th spot in the Chicago White Sox batting order this season, but because of a lack of production from the 3 hitters, Quentin has been given a shot to try his hand in the third slot. Quentin is hitting just .269 in 2011 but he is slugging more than twice that at .573. While he doesn’t hit for a particularly high average (.254 career batting average) he provides a lot of power for a White Sox team that struggled to score runs early in the 2011 season. 2009 and 2010 were pretty average years for Quentin, but in 2011 he already has 17 homers through his first 65 games. He is on pace to hit 41 homers, surpassing his career high of 36 in 2008. In fact, in 2008, Carlos Quentin led the American League in HRs per AB, hitting one HR for every 13.3 ABs according to the back of his 2011 Topps Heritage Card.
Despite his low batting average, it seems that as Carlos goes, so go the White Sox, as Quentin hit .306 (.063 points higher than his 2010 batting average) in White Sox wins last season.
Good news for the Twins: In 2011 Carlos is 0-5 and against tonight’s scheduled starter, Carl Pavano, Quentin is 0-13 lifetime with 4 Ks. Considering Pavano’s abysmal strike out numbers against the rest of the league, it’s safe to say that Pavano has Quentin’s number. In limited plate appearances against the Twins’ bullpen Quentin is hitting .333 but he has 5Ks in just 12 ABs and no extra base hits. Against Nick Blackburn (Friday’s scheduled starter) Quentin is hammering the ball with an OPS over 1.000. If the Twins want to limit his damage they will have to keep the top of the order off base to keep him from driving in runs. Still, Quentin will challange the Twins left side defense as he’s pulling the ball more than 50% of the time, meaning Delmon Young, Danny Valencia, and Alexi Casilla need to be on their toes (We might even see a Tsuyoshi Nishioka sighting at SS tonight if the Twins activate him and Gardy follows through with his plan to swap Casilla back over to 2B in favor of Nishioka at short).
In order to counter Quentin’s power the Twins will need to pitch him down and away where he chasing nearly 30% of the balls thrown out of the zone. He’s also struggling mightily against the change up, hitting just .174. Carl Pavano (58% Fastballs) will have to keep the fastballs down in the zone against Quentin as he hitting over .300 against fastballs from RHP. Blackburn relies even more on his fastball (65%) and will have to continue to work down and away from the right handed Quentin and avoid leaving balls up in the zone, something that cost him 2HRs in his last start against the Rangers.