There have been several MLB regular position players who have started off their seasons on the right foot. Players like the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp have excelled during the first two months of the 2012 season.
What about those players who have not been as successful?
There are a handful of players in both leagues who have yet to get their proverbial baseball acts together. Here are five players who should lose their starting jobs if they continue to play poorly.
2012 Stats: .216 BA, 3 HR, 15 RBI
Crippling Stat: More strikeouts (34) than hits (32)
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is having a hard time adjusting to AL pitching. Rasmus, who was acquired via a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals last summer, is batting .216 with 34 strikeouts in 166 plate appearances.
Jeff Gordon of Stltoday.com reported on Rasmus' struggles and how Blue Jays coaches have tried to help him snap out of his hitting funk.
"'When he was deeper in the box, it gave him a little bit more time to read the pitch,'" Blue Jays manager John Farrell said during an MLB.com interview. "'I think some of that added time, maybe allowed some opportunity for some additional thoughts to get in there [...] thinking about other things other than just see the ball and hit the ball and take a more aggressive swing.'"
Rasmus needs to figure out his issues at the plate soon or he will be sitting on the bench.
2012 Stats: .144 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI
Crippling Stat: .144 BA in 123 plate appearances
It has been a tough season so far for Detroit Tigers second baseman/outfielder Ryan Raburn. The Florida native has struggled mightily this season in the batter's box, hitting just .144 with a .429 OPS. His stats are way off from the strong numbers he posted in 2009, when he batted .291 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI.
Raburn has also suffered from off-the-field difficulties, as he recently missed three games due to the loss of his grandmother.
He is set to return to action Friday against the Minnesota Twins.
2012 Stats: .173 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Crippling Stat: .173 BA in 82 plate appearances
How much of a premium should be put on a good defensive catcher? Does a .173 batting average warrant a starting role on an MLB club? Those are some questions that need to be asked by Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon.
Molina's lack of production doesn't seem to be affecting the Rays, who entered Friday in second place (27-18) a game behind the Baltimore Orioles. However, how long can the Rays afford to carry a sub-.200 catcher when two other starters, Carlos Pena (.217) and Ben Zobrist (.217) aren't necessarily tearing the cover off the ball?
It may be time to consider a replacement.
2012 Stats: .196 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI
Crippling Stat: 18 hits with 31 strikeouts in 110 plate appearances
The Cleveland Indians have been looking for production from their outfield all season. Unfortunately, they have not received much from Shelley Duncan.
The 32-year-old left fielder has put up poor numbers so far this season. Through 32 games, Duncan is batting .196 with only three homers.
He has not been able to consistently match the power production he provided during his first season with the New York Yankees. Added to the roster late in the 2007 season, Duncan put on a power display hitting seven homers in his first 74 at-bats. He was never able to regain his power with the Yankees and was eventually let go.
Duncan was signed by the Indians as a free agent in 2010. He has hit 11 homers twice during his tenure with Cleveland. A low average with strong power production is somewhat acceptable, but Duncan has failed to do either with the Tribe.
It may be time for Indians manager Manny Acta to make a change.
2012 Stats: .164 BA, 5 HR, 17 RBI
Crippling Stat: More strikeouts (44) than hits (24)
New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis has yet to find his swing in 2012.
Davis is still trying to replicate his rookie season where he put up decent numbers (.264 BA, 19 HR, 71 RBI). Jeff Bradley of the Newark Star Ledger recently reported on Davis's struggles and efforts by the Mets coaching staff to get him on the right track:
“We had been talking with him about trying to hit more balls the opposite way,” [Terry] Collins said. “Well, that’s not him. He’s never done that. So here we were, asking him to do something he’s not comfortable with. That defeats the purpose of what we are trying to do. I said, ‘Just be yourself. Get in the box, block out where your hands are, where your feet are. See the ball and put an aggressive swing on it.’ That’s how he got here.”
If Davis is going to stay in the Mets' lineup and on the 25-man roster, he is going to have to start hitting soon. Expect the pressure to continue to mount on Davis if the slump continues.