Today's review of 10 players who should see their batting numbers spike as the season continues is a companion to yesterday's survey of 10 players who are off to hot starts, but may see their fortunes turn around somewhat going forward.
This list is a veritable All-Star team (with no catcher) and includes a number of first or second round options. Chances are if you drafted one or more of these guys, you're not only pulling your hair out, but also in a position in the standings you didn't foresee in late March.
This article is here to preach patience with these players—they will play better than they have, and you want to be the one to reap the reward after having suffered through the cold streak.
Note: Some stats may disagree with current ones; I've written this over the last day or two.
Shameless self plug: I didn't include Grady Sizemore because I already wrote about how I think he's due to bounce back.
Soon to follow: Pitchers who will fade or rebound as June approaches.
After an impressive 2008 campaign, Carlos Quentin has experienced early difficulty in 2009. Despite eight home runs, he has only 37 combined runs and RBI due to a paltry .229 batting average.
He's not walking a lot (8.5 percent), but he also isn't striking out very much at all (12.7 percent). His contact percentage is up from 79.5 last year to 84.7 this year, which is definitely a good sign.
Oddly, Quentin is hitting 19.2 percent line drives, up from his career average, but his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a sickening .229.
If Quentin's increased contact and line drive percentages hold steady, a safe bet as he enters his prime, his offensive production should mushroom. He should go on a tear that will even out his dreadful luck and boost his numbers right back to where owners expected them to be on Draft Day.
The Marlins second baseman has never been known as an "average guy," but his struggles this year are due to more than his tendency to strike out at least once a game.
On a positive note, Uggla's walks are up for the third consecutive campaign, and his contact percentage in 2009 is 77.5 compared to a career mark of 73.0.
However, the percentage of Uggla's contact that turns into popups has more than doubled this season compared to any other, and his 15.2 percent line drive rate is a career low and is on a three-year decline.
Uggla is too good of a ballplayer to suffer through an entire season with a line of .307/.346/.653 (OBP/SLG/OPS).
While the indicators give a somewhat conflicting story, Uggla can look at his BABIP of .223 and rest assured that if he keeps his approach at the plate steady, his results will improve, as the balls he puts in play begin to find some holes.
An up-and-comer like Carlos Quentin, Jay Bruce carries with him performance expectations that any player rated No. 1 by Baseball America will.
Last year, at age 21, Bruce put up a respectable showing in the majors. With another year under his belt, improvement was rightly expected.
To date, Bruce's power is there (12 home runs), but his average has not been (.232). He is on pace to drive in and score 90-100 runs each, so run production has not been an issue for the young slugger.
Here comes the bad news for the National League Central and any non-owner: Bruce's anchor is the same as all the guys on this list—plain bad luck.
Sporting an average on balls-in-play of .206, Bruce has still been able to produce runs for the Reds. When this number begins to rise, as it surely will, Bruce's numbers may begin to rival some of the best in the game.
My confidence is supported by the peripherals—Jay is walking more and striking out about 20 percent less this season.
Never to be mistaken for Ichiro, Bruce hits lots of fly balls, and his line drive percentage has fallen by almost 50 percent on the young season. Unless he has lost the ability to square up the ball, watch for his line drive percentage and BABIP to rise in unison, as Bruce makes the Reds very, very happy.
As a Red Sox fan, I am cringing as I write this—baseball probably has not yet seen the best that Mark Teixeira will offer in 2009.
Currently hitting only .241 (even lower than that before his recent homer binge), Big Tex has still amassed 11 home runs, with 25 runs and 30 RBI. Mark's popping out 20.3 percent of the time and hitting only 12 percent line drives.
Just as with Bruce, expect Teixeira's line drive percentage to increase as the season wears on. Known as a second half player, Teixeira does appear to be going through his first half warmup at the same time as adjusting to a new team (again).
With career-best swing percentages, Teixeira's season is sure to improve. Mark is already on pace for 44 home runs, and he is due to get better, because his BABIP of .232 stands .077 lower than a career mark of .309.
Look out once he gets things going.
Speed guys aren't supposed to have this happen to them. At least not speed guys like Jimmy Rollins, who have real talent to back up their legs.
Though he's never hit .300 over a full season, Jimmy Rollins is not a stereotypical light-hitting, glove-first shortstop. He has an MVP award to his credit and many strong offensive seasons in the recent past.
This year, Rollins has scuffled to a .268/.325/.593 line (OBP/SLG/OPS), has just two home runs, 37 combined runs and RBI, and, most surprisingly, only four steals.
Rollins has seen his walk rate diminish slightly this season and his strikeouts jump to 13.4 percent, his highest rate since 2002. He's also hitting fewer line drives and a terribly amazing 29.1 percent pop-ups.
His swing stats fall in line with his career numbers, so it appears his skills aren't declining.
Rollins' problem is a low BABIP (.246), which is caused by his constantly popping the ball up and failing to hit line drives. Jimmy's only 30 years old, so it's hard to believe that these negative trends will remain.
Once Rollins begins to hit the ball hard, all these skewed figures should return to normal, and the Phillies' spark plug will begin to rake again.
Upton's case is a special one. He is returning from major offseason shoulder surgery. Surgery doesn't sap talent; it saps comfort and timing. He's also only appeared in 33 games this season, so his numbers are even more susceptible to correction as his sample size increases.
Even in light of the foregoing caveats, B.J. is striking out more than 31 percent of the time and failing to hit many line drives (15.6 percent). I think this is due almost entirely to the fact that Upton's spring training has taken place during the regular season.
As he finds his timing at the plate, expect his swings to improve, and with that, his results.
Dragged down by his .253 average on balls-in-play and huge strikeout rate, Upton appears headed for a down year. Don't be fooled. He will turn things around, and as the baseball world witnessed last October, when he gets hot, he is unstoppable.
Lance Berkman has been a consistent run producer for nearly a decade for the Houston Astros. A career .300 hitter, Lance currently stands at .224. His miniscule .225 BABIP almost mirrors his tiny average. As a result, Big Puma has only 40 combined runs and RBI, despite eight dingers.
Unlike many of the guys on this list, Berkman is not popping up a lot, but he isn't hitting the ball with a lot of authority, accumulating only 15.3 percent line drives, far below his career average (20 percent). He is being patient at the dish, but his contact rate has been declining since 2005.
Berkman is 33 years old, so he may be showing signs of age, but he still should be a middle of the order guy for a year or two.
The aforementioned average on balls-in-play appears to be a sincere outlier in this group, as Berkman's skills are close to what they were last year when he was arguably first half MVP. Look for Big Puma to enjoy a run like last year's this summer.
In his young career, Jose Lopez has been up and down from year to year, with consecutive OPSs from 2005 to 2008 of .661, .723, .639, and .764. So far in 2009, Lopez hasn't done anything to think that trend will not continue. Only hitting .228, Lopez has three bombs and 37 combined runs and RBI.
He's striking out about as much as he always has (13.4 percent), and he's working on his formerly minuscule walk rate, now 5.7 percent. He's driving the ball and making contact (86.3 contact percent) at his career averages.
Another victim of poor luck and seemingly little else, Lopez is only getting hits on 24 percent of his balls in play. Unlike many on this list, Lopez isn't an elite talent, so he may be in for a down year, but he will not continue to struggle like he has been.
Atkins burst on the scene with an amazing 2006. Since then, some of the shine has come off that season, as he has not come close to repeating the effort. However, for a player in the middle of any order that calls Coors Field home, production is expected.
Garrett's 2009 numbers to date: .568 OPS, .194 batting average, three home runs, and a sickly 28 runs plus RBI.
Atkins has seen his line drive percentage dip and his ground ball percentage jump this year. Keeping his three-year decline in mind, this may not be a surprise, but hitting about half as many line drives as a year ago cannot last.
Encouragingly, Atkins has reversed trends of his walks dropping and his strikeouts increasing. This is counteracted by the fact that he, like many on this list, is popping up way too much.
If Garrett maintains his approach at the plate, he should see his peripheral numbers return to normal levels, and with that his BABIP of .208 will not stay so low.
Owners can never expect Atkins to return to 2006 form. What they can expect is a serviceable corner infielder who takes advantage of his home field. Once his bad luck has passed, that will happen.
The White Sox infielder is in the unfortunate position of playing ahead of a number of guys the organization is high on. This is compounded by an unfortunate start after only one year of success.
This raises many legitimate questions about the talent of the 27-year-old. He doesn't like to take a walk (career rate 4.1 percent) and doesn't hit too many line drives (career rate 15.8 percent). Could it be that he's a one-year wonder?
Probably not, and for a reason you ought to be able to guess by now: Alexei's average on balls in play is .241.
While not as atrocious as some of his peers, this is substantially below league average and has caused Ramirez's early season line to be an absolute eyesore: one big fly, eight runs, 14 RBI, and a .218 batting average. I can't even say which of those numbers is the worst.
He's on pace to score 32 runs. That's a good month for a great leadoff guy.
He only enjoyed a .296 BABIP last year, so it's possible this figure will remain frustratingly low for the length of the season—but not as low as it is.
In addition, Alexei's one home run means his HR/FB percentage is below three. This should triple or quadruple as the season goes on to get back in line with the league average.
Ramirez is the player on this list whose rebound I am least confident of. Without much of a history, there is little evidence to provide real support that he will reach the level of performance he achieved in 2008.
I only had so much room, so here are some other guys who've been unlucky:
Brian Giles (owner of the league's worst BABIP, a ghastly .175)