Unusual Suspect: Carlos Quentin
Team: Chicago White Sox
Stats: .277 AVG, 16 HR, 54 RBIs, 4 SB, .550 SLG
Measurements: 6'2", 220 lbs.
Nicknames: Q (obviously) and TCQ (I'll explain later)
Signature: Demolishing American League pitching while starting a full-fledged All-Star write-in bonanza in the process.
Mysteries: Where did this guy come from? Why did the Diamondbacks give him away for 10 cents on the dollar? Does he get inundated by British secret agents who confuse him for Q from "James Bond," asking him to make them ridiculous things like explosive pine tar or an X-ray batting helmet?
Carlos Quentin's rise to stardom is not so much of a surprise, but the 25-year-old took a roundabout path in getting there.
Quentin no doubt enjoyed reading Baseball America in his formative years, as the publication honored him for his achievements in all three of his college seasons at Stanford before naming him a Top 10 Diamondback Prospect during each of his four Minor League seasons with Arizona.
But while he was pegged as one of the team's outfielders of the future, the Diamondbacks had trouble finding a role for Quentin with their talented outfield occupied by Eric Byrnes, Chris Young and Justin Upton. Next thing you know, Quentin gets traded for Chris Carter (the Low A prospect who was later dealt to Oakland, not the other Chris Carter in the Red Sox farm system or the former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver) and turns into a surefire All-Star ... if only his name were actually on the ballet.
So how did this whole thing come full circle?
To the evidence!
Change will do you good: With the D-backs' outfield at max capacity, it was clear that Quentin needed a change of scenery. To say that White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was salivating at this opportunity would be an understatement of Jonah Hill proportions. As Williams unabashedly stated, "We wanted to upgrade at shortstop, get a setup guy for the bullpen, acquire Carlos Quentin, and not a guy like him but actually Carlos Quentin."
The actual Carlos Quentin is who Williams wanted, and the actual Carlos Quentin is who Williams got. And that's why the dude goes by TCQ, as in "The Carlos Quentin." If only it were that easy with all players.
Opportunity knocks: Once dealt to the White Sox, all TCQ had to do was beat out lifetime .268 hitter Jerry Owens for a starting job. This is not too dissimilar from 1994, when all that stood in Diesel's way for the World Wrestling Federation World Championship was a (roughly) 93-year-old Bob Backlund. Anyway, TCQ seized on his opportunity in Spring Training, hitting .310 with seven doubles, 18 RBIs and a .582 slugging percentage to land a starting gig in the South Side.
Supernatural approach: Of course, opportunities can take you only so far. As Thomas Edison once said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." What that means, I have no idea. A literal translation would hint that Quentin has been wearing overalls this year, and if that helps explain his much-improved approach at the plate (31/36 BB/K ratio in '08 compared to 18/54 in '07), then overalls it is.
I've got the power!: TCQ has also tapped into his power potential this year, drilling 16 homers with 54 RBIs in 220 at-bats after belting just five long balls with 31 RBIs in 229 trips to the dish with the D-backs last year. One might say that The Carlos Quentin has merely made adjustments at the plate. But The Dave Feldman would say that he finally tapped into his power potential, which was described this year by Angels outfielder Torii Hunter as "like Hulk Hogan; [TCQ's] crazy strong."
Of course, there are always ulterior explanations.
While Quentin has been enjoying his TCQ moniker this season, his longtime nickname has always been simply "Q."
Most people assume that it merely stands for the first letter in his last name. Clearly, I think otherwise.
It's far too much of a coincidence for a guy named Q to unleash a breakout season without some creative assistance. Ever since I was a child, I admired Q's creativity. I mean, he's been providing ridiculous covert gizmos to James Bond and the research and development division of the British Secret Service since 1962.
I'd have to think that if Q can somehow finagle a way to help 007 land on the Octopus Cult's island in "Octopussy," then swinging a baseball bat at the Major League level would be a walk in the park (see what I just did there?).
And if Q can help The Actual James Bond in the final battle scene of "License to Kill", then maybe landing in the 2008 All-Star Game isn't such a reach after all.