There's a lot of talk this time of year about next year's lineup. Understandably so. There are a lot of interesting questions and many different scenarios. But one guy who is left out is Andy LaRoche. And it should be that way. Even if he was playing passably, there's no way at this point that he cracks the starting lineup with Walker and Alvarez manning his two positions.
The only way I could see him as a starter is if the Bucs move Walker to third and Alvarez to first, bumping Garrett Jones to a RF/1B, platoon/backup deal, and then LaRoche could slide to second, that is, of course, barring bringing anyone coming in from outside the org.
What happened? Last year was LaRoche's first full season. He had a WAR of 2.6 and a 3.24 wOBA and UZR/150 had him at 5.1. Further, while not showing great on-base ability, he registered 50 BB to only 84 Ks. His OPS of .731 was certainly not world-beating, but for his first year playing full time, it was promising. After rising as a highly touted prospect, this seemed like the next step on his way to being at least a GOOD MLB player. Then this year.
His OPS is .551. His ISO is HALF of what it was last year. He's a -0.7 WAR in just 250 PAs and his UZR/150 is -5.6 (though we can chalk up much of his fielding numbers for the last couple years to the failings of the stat itself.)
Looking at his batted ball rates (like all these stats, from Fangraphs), his Line Drive % is 17.5 (same as last year), Fly Ball % 32.5 (just a bit below last year), and Ground Ball % is 50.0 (just a bit above last year). His Infield Fly Ball Rate is bad at 17.5%, but it in 2009 it was 14.5% (though in double the ABs).
He's been unlucky with a .241 BABIP compared to last year's .286, but a decent chunk of that could be accounted for by those IFFBs.
Still the sheer lack of power (evidenced by the plummeting ISO and the rise in IFFBs) is certainly outside the normal amount of variation when you consider LaRoche's history in both the minors and Majors. It just makes me wonder whether he has a lingering injury, perhaps his back problem was this or year or an inflammation of his knee injury last year, because this type of drop-off is kind of shocking.