Washington Nationals right fielder and problem man-child Elijah Dukes is well known to the general baseball audience because of his troubled legal history and not his plate presence, otherworldly power, or massive biceps. However in the capital of the second chance nation - this would be Dukes sixth or seventh -- Dukes is finally starting to show some of that gaudy potential on the field.
Overall Dukes is hitting .254/.361/.377 but in his last 92 at-bats Dukes is hitting a more impressive .315/.413/.478. Nearly a full .160 point jump in OPS can be associated to a BABIP over .400 during the stretch compared to a .335 xBABIP. If you recall Dukes spent last season, only a chunk of it playing, in St. Petersburg. Because he achieved over 150 at-bats last season Dukes won't qualify for the Rookie of the Year award, but here's a look at how he stacks up to the National League's rookie hitters.
The top three candidates have separated from the pack a bit as the Giants John Bowker is the next highest qualifier (150 PA) with a 5.3 VORP. Still yet Dukes is doing well in the regard that he's actually playing. Last season Dukes was essentially placed on house arrest by the Rays after his divorce situation hit the media and played his last game on June 19th. Of course Dukes recently got into a blow up with manager Manny Acta that ended with Dukes apologizing to Acta and his teammates alike.
Ideally Dukes would use some sense of foresight before such incidents, but perhaps Acta's aggressiveness with him will pay off. One thing you can state as a fact would be his performance being left unaffected by the incident; Dukes' OPS is a blistering .928 since the June 11th spat.