Let's Talk Jack Cust

It's Tuesday, which means it's Gillette sponsored post day, which means it's the day that I write something about confidence. Today's topic: our confidence in Jack Cust.

Cust was brought in as a guy to serve as a textbook cleanup hitter. Historically, he's been known to mash dingers, take pitches, and strike out, which are pretty much the classic characteristics of a lineup #4. We knew when we signed him that he wouldn't be Prince Fielder or anything, but here was a lefty with an .839 OPS over his previous four seasons. There was reason to think the experiment could work out.

Now, after 15 games, Cust is sitting on a .185/.323/.204 batting line, with only nine singles and a double to his name. His eye has been the same as ever. His contact has been the same as ever. But his groundballs are up, and his power has disappeared. Observe the following 2010 and 2011 spray charts side-by-side in an image I thoughtlessly and repulsively titled jackcustspray.png:

Jackcustspray_medium

Not only is Cust without a home run - he's without much in the way of long fly balls at all. There was one that I thought he hit pretty well in Kansas City, but it came down in front of the track.

So, on the one hand, we have a declining 32-year-old born with old player skills who just visually looks like he's toast. On the other hand, Cust has a track record of slugging extra-base hits, and he actually didn't hit his first home run until his 16th game just last season. The season before that, he had homerless slumps of 26 and 14 games. The season before that, he went 21 games between his first dinger and his second.

So with all that in mind, how confident are you guys feeling about Jack Cust's performance over the rest of the season?

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