Let it be known that hitting baseballs is hard.
Hitting baseballs on the professional level? Damn near impossible for 99% of us. Even for the best players that have ever lived, the odds of hitting a baseball safely into play are more unlikely than they are likely. We all know that a .300 hitter fails in 70 percent of his at-bats.
If I failed 70% of the time at my job, I wouldn't have a job and I wouldn't have any good prospects for finding future employment.
Because of that high failure rate, the margin of error is razor thin for a hitter. If you go 5 for 20, you hit .250. If you go 6 for 20, you hit .300. That's why we try not to judge a person off of 20 at-bats of course, but judge them we still do. That one hit could have been the luckiest bloop of his life, but it made him a .300 hitter for those 20 at-bats and not a .250 hitter. Same applies if you go 25 for 100 or you go 30 for 100. For some guys, 5 hits have been the difference between continuing their one shot in the major leagues and not continuing.
It's a tough game and even the best players have some tough stretches. Here are some notable names that have been mired in notable slumps and they could use some help.
The Slump: 0 for 23, 1 bb, 9 K's.
If you believe that young players should be given a real, everyday chance to show what they're worth even when they're playing awfully, you might be Eric Wedge.
With Franklin Gutierrez still off the major league roster with stomach problems, Saunders has been given a very long look in centerfield. The long look has not been pretty and it's getting even uglier. Saunders does not have a hit in May. he's drawn just 1 walk, and struck out at least once in all but 1 of the 7 games he's played in this month.
The Mariners called up two AAA outfielders in the last 24 hours (Mike Wilson and Carlos Peguero) but still Saunders survives. Luckily for him, he's one of only two players who can handle centerfield and the other guy who can do that is Ichiro. The former top prospect in the system is going to run out of chances sooner or later until he doesn't look so lost up at the plate.
The Slump: 7 for 51, 1 XBH, 0 BB's, 1 SB
Another former top prospect with defensive value, Castro has looked like two different players this season. Since he went 4 for 5 on April 23rd, which raised his batting average to .393, he's fallen off of a cliff.
In 12 games since he has hit .137/.154/.157 (1 HBP) and grounded into 3 double plays. Castro rarely strikes out, but he's walking in only 2.8% of PA's this season. So far he hasn't displayed otherworldly speed, and we already knew he wouldn't hit for much power, but if he cant get on base he certainly won't have any value for fantasy owners.
The Slump: 3 for 29, 1 BB
There's not much to see here, we already know how good Ryan Braun is. But May has not been kind to him and in just 8 games his average has dropped from .367 to .307 and he's only drawn 1 walk compared to 7 strikeouts. Probably no coincidence that the Brewers have dropped 8 of 9 and haven't won back to back games since April 18-19.
The Slump: 2 for 35, 1 XBH, 1 RBI, 1 R, 4 BB's
Tulo and Braun are regularly in the Game of Thrones conversation for King of All Fantasy. At least neither one has lost ground on the other during this time.
Tulo is hitting .057/.154/.143 in his last 9 games with a solo shot on May 6th being his only HR, R, RBI, and XBH during those 9 games. The Rockies are 2-7 during that time. He will be better than this, but he's not helping out his owners currently.
The Slump: 8 for 56, 4 doubles, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 8 K's
Maybe I should have learned from Lance Berkman to not call a player "done" until he's actually done. Maybe I should, but I'm not. I consider Roberts run as a viable fantasy 2B over at age 33.
From 2004-2009 Roberts averaged .290/.365/.438, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 101 R, 35 SB, and an incredible 46 doubles. Last season was cut short by injury, and maybe he's just working his way back from that, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him never steal 30 bases again.
Mired in his current slump, Roberts has 2 stolen bases in 14 games and 3 total on the year in 32 games. Roberts had a career high 50 SB in 2007, then 40 in 2008, and then 30 in 2009. He stole 12 bases in 59 games last year. Second base is much deeper than it used to be, so how much room is there on a fantasy team for a .270/.350/.390 2B with 10 HR and 15 SB? Too bad for the Orioles that he's signed through 2013.
The Slump: 10 for 69, 0 XBH, 3 RBI, 4 R
Oh, Miggy. It's hard to believe that in 2006, Tejada would have been involved in serious discussions about the Hall of Fame. From 2000-2006, he was a SS that averaged .297/.351/.498, 29 HR, 116 RBI. 190 hits, 102 R, 37 doubles. He was in the top 20 of the MVP voting every year and won the award outright in 2002, and drove in 150 for the Orioles in 2004. He never regained the same power after that and has been mediocre for the last several years.
But truthfully, he wasn't horrible when he got sent to the Padres last season. He hit for decent power in a severe pitchers park and now moving to the World Champion Giants. Well he's looked pretty lost in 2011 and only has 10 singles in his last 69 at-bats without an extra base hit.
The only question is: Can Brandon Belt learn a new position?