When a player has a slump or a hot streak in the middle of a season, the player has enough of a sample size to put those things in perspective. But when a player starts hot in the beginning of a season, we all notice. For example, the hot starts by Matt Kemp and Jared Weaver prompt tons of articles both admiring and cautionary. The same holds true for those who start the season so badly that the sky seems to be falling and the boos come out in droves from their hometown fans. Most of these early season victims will bounce back to near their normal career productivity. But it sure is ugly while the early season funk drags on. What follows is a few of those whose early season play has been extremely yucky.
Two players have an OPS below .400. That’s pretty hard to do. They are Brad Hawpe and Dan Johnson. Hawpe has come to symbolize the awfulness of the San Diego Padres’ offense. His dreadful slash line in 64 plate appearances: .136/.188/.186. Eww! Hawpe has a way to go before his OPS+ of 7 equals his #11 uniform number. He is nearly matched by Johnson, who at least gets covered up by other guys in the Bay Rays’ line up: .131/.185/.197 in 65 plate appearances. Johnson, a terrific and prolific power hitter in the minors just can’t seem to get his major league career going despite some heroic late inning moments the last couple of seasons. Hawpe is a mystery as he was a good player not too long ago for the Rockies. The last two years have been brutal.
There are eight players with 80 or more at bats with an OPS of under .500: Vernon Wells (.481), James Loney (.470), Alexis Rios (.466), Alcides Escobar (.476), Carl Crawford (.441), Chone Figgins (.479), Raul Ibanez (.484) and Will Venable (.476). All are batting below .200 except Escobar and Loney. Many of these players will bounce back and have fine seasons. But April will be a month they hope to soon forget.
Brent Morel and Vladimir Guerrero have combined for 154 plate appearances without taking a walk. Morel has a .458 OPS in 67 plate appearances. But even so, Ozzie Guillen is such a fan that he says Morel will be a Number 2 hitter before the All Star Break. Hmm…
Jack Cust, Jason Bartlett, Will Venable, Paul Janish and Carlos Pena have all compiled more than 70 plate appearances while only compiling one extra base hit. And Cust and Pena are power hitters. Strange. Conversely, Adam Dunn and Jorge Posada are batting .150 and .145 respectively. Ten of their eighteen combined hits have been for extra bases.
The speedy Brett Gardner is batting .145 with a .197 on base percentage. And when he does get on base, that hasn’t been working out either. He’s been thrown out stealing three times in six attempts after he was successful in 83 percent of his 56 attempts last year. Gardner has also struck out twenty times in 62 at bats. Gardner is one of four MLB players with more than 60 plate appearances with an OBP less than .200. The others are Hawpe, Johnson and Jose Lopez.
Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter both have around 100 plate appearances and both have already hit into eight double-plays. That’s a lot of outs.
We’ve been picking on the batters quite a bit. It’s time to pick on some pitchers.
Ryan Dempster, Jake Westbrook, Mike Pelfrey, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Niemann and Nelson Figueroa all have pitched at least twenty innings and have an ERA over 7.00. Combined, these pitchers have given up 117 earned runs in 139.2 innings pitched. Woof!
Javier Vazquez, Jeff Samardzija, Tim Collins, Aroldis Chapman and Jerry Blevins have pitched a combined 66.2 innings and have walked a combined 61 batters. That’s a lot of free passes.
Jake Westbrook, Mike Pelfrey, Barry Enright, Jeff Niemann, Jo-Jo Reyes, Nelson Figueroa, James McDonald, Erik Bedard, Madison Bumgarner, Casey Coleman, James Russell, Jordan Smith, Matt Maloney, Phil Hughes, Marcos Mateo and Juan Gutierrez have pitched a combined 268.1 innings and have given up a combined 389 hits. Staggering. Jordan Smith and Juan Gutierrez are the only two of those pitchers that doesn’t have an OPS+ against them of 150. That means that everyone they pitch against is a superstar.
Luke Hochevar, Armando Galarraga, Ryan Dempster and Colby Lewis have pitched a combined 111.2 innings have have already yielded a combined 33 homers. The combined homer per nine inning rate for this group is 2.67. That’s a lot of umpire waving.
And finally, Armando Galarraga, Colby Lewis, Ryan Dempster, Barry Enright and Clay Buchholz all have slugging percentages against over .550 (50 innings minimum). That is a lot of total bases.
Again, it has to be noted that many of these players will end up having good seasons. If they had bad stretches like this in the middle of the season, perhaps they would go unnoticed. But all of these players have come out of the gate heading in the wrong direction and they will have to gallop like the wind to end up where they need to be.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Fantasy | Tagged: Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, Alcides Escobar, Alexis Rios, Armando Galarraga, Aroldis Chapman, Barry Enright, Brad Hawpe, Brent Morel, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Casey Coleman, Chone Figgins, Clay Buchholz, Colby Lewis, Dan Johnson, Erik Bedard, Francisco Liriano, Jack Cust, Jake Westbrook, James Loney, James McDonald, James Russell, Jared Weaver, Jason Bartlett, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Niemann, Jeff Samardzija, Jerry Blevins, Jo-Jo Reyes, Jordan Smith, Jorge Posada, Jose Lopez, Juan Gutierrez, Luke Hochevar, Madison Bumgarner, Marcos Mateo, Matt Kemp, Matt Maloney, Mike Pelfrey, Nelson Figueroa, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Janish, Phil Hughes, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Dempster, Tim Collins, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Vladimir Guerrero, Will Venable | Comments Off