One of the positive things from the 1st half of this 2012 season has been the play of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis or Capt Kirk as some fondly like to call him came up and provided the Mets with some great catches & play defensively and a spark offensively. As a young prospect he is bound to go through ups and downs and right now he is having a down as he is hitting .195/BA over his last 24 games and the Mets may be looking at what are their other options if Nieuwenhuis continues to struggle when on the last game of the 1st half the Mets started their other prospect Jordany Valdespin in centerfield.
One of the things Nieuwenhuis needs to work on is getting his high strikeout rate down. He currently is striking out 30.1% of the time. Only 3 players in MLB are striking out at a higher rate than he is. Mike Napoli of the Rangers (30.2%), Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates (30.3%) and Adam Dunn of the White Sox (36.8%). To compare, David Wright’s worst strikeout season (2010) saw him strikeout 161 times and that was 24% of the time.
Nieuwenhuis’s yearly strikeout rates through the system have shown a pattern of increasing every season ever since 2009. Even when Nieuwenhuis was hitting well over his 1st 54 games he was striking out 29% of the time.
As the Mets head into the 2nd half and possibly try to compete for a playoff spot Nieuwenhuis should make note that the hot hitting Valdespin may take playing time away from him and maybe even push him back down to Buffalo if he doesn’t correct himself at the plate.