We’re around 11-12 games into the season, depending on which team you’re following. And, at this point slumps start to be more than just a game or two, and become a legit concern. And, guys who started off hot, might begin to cool. So, even though it’s early in the season, and things could change quickly, today I’m going to give you a few names to take note of:
Offense: 1. Carlos Pena – he still strikes out a lot (12 times in 41 ABs), but when his OPS is 1.197 (6th in baseball), you can live with it. He’s also walked 6 times already, and is showing much more patience at the plate than he had the previous two years.
2. Chris Young – second only to Matt Kemp in OPS (1.397), and has 5 home runs, 13 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases in 11 games. If he keeps this up, he’ll be in MVP talks for sure.
Pitching: 1. Chad Billingsley – the Dodgers are 9-2 in their first eleven games, and Billingsley looks like he could finally become the dominant pitcher many thought he would be years ago (2-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.69 WHIP). If he does, he and Kershaw could be a nasty 1-2 punch in that rotation.
2. Ryan Dempster – if you didn’t watch the games, you might not even notice how well he’s doing. He doesn’t have a win in 3 starts, but has as many strikeouts as Verlander & Weaver (tied for the league lead), and has a minuscule 1.33 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Too bad for him, he pitches for a team ranked 26th in team OPS.
Offense: 1. Freddie Freeman – it’s not unusual for a guy to have a sophomore slump after an excellent rookie year. But, this is looking bad as his average continues to drop (.222), and strikeouts continue to pile up (16 already, well on his way to over 200 on the year).
2. Albert Pujols – what exactly are the Angels paying $24 million/year for? Home runs? – hasn’t hit one yet, in 45 AB’s. Hits? – he has as many as Darwin Barney. RBI’s? – he has 4 (not even in the top-100). He’s batting .267 with a .668 OPS. Those aren’t terrible numbers . . . for a catcher.
Pitching: 1. Yu Darvish – another big expense for very little production. If it wasn’t for his offense backing him up, he wouldn’t have the one win he does. A less-than-impressive 4.76 ERA could have been a lot worse – he’s allowed 17 hits and 8 walks in just 11.1 innings.
2. Heath Bell – 9.00 ERA, and two blown saves in just three opportunities. Do I really need to say any more?
Offense: 1. Kevin Youkilis – whether he’s “emotionally into the game” or not, the numbers don’t lie – .176 avg., .443 OPS, 0 home runs, 3 RBI’s, 12 K’s and just 3 BB’s. Add to that whatever turmoil may be brewing between him and the Sox’s new skipper, and this could get uglier before it gets better.
2. Adam Dunn – for some reason I thought this guy was about 36 or 37, and coming up on his last year or two in the majors. But, he won’t even be 33 until November! That makes his numbers even uglier – .179, .589 OPS, 3 RBI’s, 18 K’s (in just 39 AB’s – well on his way to shattering the all-time record), and just 4 BB’s.
Pitching: 1. Francisco Liriano – I remember seeing this guy pitch in Milwaukee in 2006, and at first being disappointed because we weren’t seeing anyone we’d heard of. But, then he turned into one of the hottest pitching prospects in the game. And, six years later . . . an 11.91 ERA, 2.74 WHIP, and an unbelievable opponents’ batting average of .407!
2. Tim Lincecum – what has happened to the “Freak”?? In 3 starts, he’s allowed at least 5 earned runs every game, and he’s allowed the 4th most hits among all pitchers. Oddly, the game he has pitched the worst (6 earned runs in just 2.1 innings) is the only game he didn’t take the loss in.