If you believe what the Angels are trying so hard to convince us of, J.B. Shuck is a very good player, perhaps even the AL Rookie of the Year! At the least he has been a brilliant diamond in the rough that Jerry Dipoto has unearthed. Such a great story! So scrappy! So gritty! So very gritty!
Really it was manifest destiny for Shuck. There is nothing Angel fans love more than a gritty, undersized reserve outfielder. I have no idea why there is such a constant infatuation, but the love still harbored for the likes of Reggie Willits and Orlando Palmeiro is very real and very strong. Shuck was tailor-made for Angel fans for love.
This I cannot abide. I don't just fail to appreciate Shuck, I downright loathe him and his cult following. Why? Because J.B. Shuck doesn't deserve your adulation. His virtues are all built on lies and false narratives. To put it simply: J.B. Shuck is not the player you think he is. Allow me to explain.
J.B. Shuck takes great at-bats and works the count
This is the single-most trumpeted tool that Shuck possesses according to his supporters... and it is a damn, dirty lie.
A batter that takes great at-bats is typically defined as a batter that sees a lot of pitches. Do you know how many Shuck sees per plate appearance? 3.59. To put that in perspective, the league average is 3.82. The only Angel that sees fewer pitches is notorious free-swinger and taker of bad at-bats is Erick Aybar at 3.48. So explain to me again how great is at-bats are, please, I beg of you.
J.B. Shuck is good at getting on base
Oh does he really? Are you aware of his .326 OBP? At best, he gets on-base at a league average rate which certainly calls into question why he has spent so much time batting leadoff. This myth is likely built on the premise that he drew a lot of walks in the minors. That fact is actually true. Shuck posted walk percentages over 10% at every minor league stop.
Alas, that has not carried over into the majors this season where he has walked just 5.0% of the time. Even Mark Trumbo thinks he needs to walk more. With over 420 plate appearances this season it is safe to say that the walk rate is pretty conclusive of what his talent translates to at the plate. While he might have the skillset to judge balls and strikes, my best guess is that pitchers have so little respect for him due to his complete and total lack of power that they just say screw it, and throw the ball over the plate since he can't do much damage if he hits the ball.
Really the only reason that his OBP is even as good as it is comes from his .293 batting average. That is certainly a good average, but it gives him very little margin for error. Right now he has a .324 BABIP, which is somewhat high. It probably is a BABIP he can sustain given his batted ball profile (his xBABIP is approximately .310) and speed (well, maybe, we're getting to that). However, if he runs into a streak of bad luck and sees that BABIP start dropping, his OBP could very quickly plummet towards .300.