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Marlon Byrd Is a Swinger

CHICAGO - APRIL 12: Marlon Byrd #24 of the Chicago Cubs prepares to bat against the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 9-5. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Ron CoomerContributor IMay 18, 2010

Marlon Byrd has been essentially carrying the Chicago Cubs, sporting a .340 average to go along with his .951 OPS. His 51 hits are second to only Martin Prado in the National League.

A glaring issue with Byrd's season thus far is his shockingly low walk rate. He has walked only three times, good enough for the worst walk rate in the majors (1.9 percent). Byrd has never been mistaken for a walk machine, but he would set a career low at this pace.

Of course, Byrd's walk rate is acceptable so long as he continues his hit parade, but is that possible?

Byrd's Batting Average on Balls in Play is high (.358), but it is possible he can sustain that rate. Byrd has also taken advantage of the fastballs he's seen, producing 11.9 runs above average against that pitch.

Behind his low walk rate is his reluctance to lay off pitches in the zone. Byrd has been attacking offerings in the strike zone, and his aggressiveness has neutralized any weaknesses against off speed pitches, and strengthened his ability to hit fastballs.

It remains to be seen if he can continue his torrid pace, although Byrd certainly has the ability to produce at the level he is at for the remainder of the season.

Looking at Byrd's contract, he signed a back-loaded deal (typical of Jim Hendry) in the offseason. He is paid only $3 million this season, but he gets $5.5 million next year, and  $6.5 million in 2012. Can Byrd perform at this level for the next two-and-a-half years?

A lot of Cubs fans may look at this season and be pleased with individual performances, but I look at this season as being lost. I am more interested to see his performance repeated in the next two years, and maybe see this as the first successful free agent signing since Ted Lilly.

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