In this brave new world of baseball analysis, numbers seem to be everything sometimes. Indeed, stats are the best way to evaluate a player's performance in a given season, and teams who can best measure up a free agent's skill set through the prism of his statistics will make the best-informed decisions.
Often, however, it takes more than math to tell the whole story of a batter's season. Scouting still has its place in baseball; the area of need has merely shifted. With ample tools available for deciding which players performed best, the pressing question posed to scouts is: What do we do with the other guys?
When baseball players struggle at the plate, it is rarely because their line drive rate has fallen or because they have swung at too many pitches outside the strike zone. Those things tend to be symptoms, not root problems in and of themselves. Usually, the central problem with a struggling hitter is that he has fallen into bad habits at home plate. Some mechanism of timing or motion in the batter's swing has gone awry, and the result is a perceived drop in home run power, or hitting ability altogether.
The good news for those men is that, if the bad or obsolete habits that set them back at the plate can be identified and corrected, the slumping slugger can return rapidly to form. These five hitters had lousy years in 2010, but they could turn things around in a hurry next season by changing their approaches.