10 Disappointing MLB Stars Ready for Second-Half Surges
The 2012 MLB season has been a disappointing one for San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum. A perennial NL Cy Young Award candidate, Lincecum has posted a poor 3-10 record so far this season.
Lincecum is not the only player who has failed to live up to expectations. It took Albert Pujols 28 games to hit his first home run of the season. His lack of production early in the season left many Angels fans questioning the rationale behind giving Pujols a 10-year, $254 million contract.
The MLB season is a 162-game marathon, and players like Pujols and Lincecum have time to right their proverbial ships. Here are 10 MLB players who are hoping to turn things around as we embark on the second half of the season.
One player looking to continue his second-half resurgence is Joe Mauer. The Twins backstop started out the season strong with a .329 BA though April. However, Mauer went through a disappointing stretch during May when his batting average nosedived to a season low of .265.
Those May struggles were put behind Mauer as he finished the first half with strong numbers (.326 BA, 5 HR, 41 RBI). His numbers were good enough to warrant a fifth All-Star selection by AL manager Ron Washington.
Mauer has continued the positive momentum after the break, posting a .329 BA through play on Thursday. He also leads the AL with a .416 on-base percentage.
Justin Upton was one of the key contributors who led the Arizona Diamondbacks to their improbable NL West division title in 2011. He is also a player who is looking to put a disappointing first half behind him.
Upton stumbled out of the gate in April posting poor numbers (.232 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI). His numbers in May were not much better, as he batted .252 with a pedestrian .726 OPS. These numbers are a far cry from the NL MVP-caliber numbers he put up during the 2011 season. Upton finished fourth in NL MVP voting last season with a (.289 BA, 31 HR, 88 RBI). This season his power numbers are down, as he has only hit seven homers through 86 games.
There have been some signs of life for Upton, as he raised his average to .273. The Diamondbacks will need Upton to continue his improved play if they are going to contend for a postseason spot.
It's been a season full of frustration for Tim Lincecum. The perennial NL Cy Young candidate has struggled often this season, posting an abysmal 3-10 record.
There have been many theories bounced around as to why Lincecum has had such a disappointing year. One theory is that Lincecum has lost some velocity off his fastball, thus making his pitches more hittable. Whatever the case, Lincecum will need to improve on his current 5.93 ERA if he is going to turn his season around.
There is some good news for Lincecum, as he pitched eight strong innings in the Giants' 3-2 win over the Houston Astros. He did not get the decision in the game, but it could be the start of a second-half resurgence.
It would be very hard to find someone before the season who would have thought it would take until July 4 for Philadelphia Phillies ace Cliff Lee to notch his first win of the season.
However, that was the case for Lee, as he compiled a disappointing 0-5 record with a 4.13 ERA prior to his first win of the season over the New York Mets.
The Phillies will need a strong Lee resurgence during the second half of the season if they have any chance to get back into the division and wild-card races. Lee pitched eight strong innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, but the bullpen relinquished the lead en route to a 5-3 loss.
There was a significant amount of fanfare in 2010 for the arrival of Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward. He drew some early comparisons to other former Braves such as Andruw Jones, David Justice and Ron Gant.
Heyward had a disappointing May, as his average dropped to .230 on May 30. He has been going through a bit of a resurgence of late, as his average as of Thursday has climbed to .269. The Braves are right in the thick of the pennant race and will need Heyward to continue to contribute.
The last two seasons have not been kind to Scott Rolen.
The Cincinnati Reds slugger has battled through a myriad of injuries during the past two seasons. Rolen put up disappointing first-half numbers in 2012 (.178 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI) with a dismal .543 OPS.
His power numbers are also way off his career averages, as he has only three home runs through play on Wednesday. His last home run came against the Minnesota Twins on June 22.
Rolen will need a strong second half not just to help the Reds' playoff chances, but also to keep his career going forward. There are some encouraging signs of life for Rolen, as he is batting .333 since the All-Star break.
Another player looking to replicate past success is Carlos Santana.
The power-hitting catcher took over the primary catching duties in 2011 and posted decent numbers (.239 BA, 27 HR, 79 RBI). His sophomore season has been a bit more disappointing, as he posted unimpressive first-half numbers (.221 BA, 5 HR, 30 RBI).
The Indians will need Santana to boost up his offensive output if they are going to contend for a postseason berth. He did just that on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a home run as the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 10-6 in St. Petersberg.
The Boston Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez in the fall of 2010 with the hopes he would become a perennial AL MVP candidate. He lived up to the billing in 2011 by leading the AL in hits (213) and posting strong numbers (.338 BA, 27 HR, 117 RBI).
By all accounts Gonzalez had a decent first half, posting respectable numbers (.283 BA, 6 HR, 45 RBI). However, those numbers were not good enough to carry the Red Sox offense, as the team stumbled into the All-Star break with a disappointing 43-43 record.
With Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford back from injury, a productive Gonzalez will only aid Boston’s postseason hopes. He has been on fire since returning from the break, hitting .550 with two homers and 10 RBI.
The emergence of LA Angels phenom Mike Trout has helped deflect some of the early season angst away from Albert Pujols.
The three-time NL MVP struggled out of the gate this season, posting a .217 BA during the first month of the season. His power numbers suffered as well, as he didn't hit his first home run until May 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Pujols wound up finishing the first half of the season with very "average" numbers (.268 BA, 14 HR, 51 RBI).
Things could be turning around for Pujols, as he has put up strong numbers since the break (.360 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI) with a whopping 1.247 OPS.
The Chicago Cubs is a team in transition. With trade rumors swirling around involving the likes of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, the Cubs may soon have a new-look rotation. One North Sider who would like to become the face of that rotation is Travis Wood.
Wood started out the season slow, as he posted an 0-2 record with a 4.72 ERA in five starts. His numbers have been significantly better since then, as he improved his record to 4-4 and lowered his ERA to 3.92. His only hiccup came on July 17 when he gave up eight earned runs in 4.2 IP against the Miami Marlins. He had lowered his ERA down to 3.05 prior to that start.
A strong second half by Wood will go a long way toward securing his future in the Cubs' rotational plans.