Early season slumps are starting to become more concerning by the day. Teams that have a group of these players need to start taking action until things fall back into place. Using Yahoo!’s owned percentage, let’s take a look at some players that might be available for a quick fix.
Kelly Johnson, 2B – Johnson hasn’t hit a home run since April 11th, but he’s not a big power guy anyway. The real plus is that Johnson continues to hit for AVG and display improved plate discipline.
Clay Buchholz, SP – There are some real signs that 2010 could very well be Buchholz’s breakout (or breakthrough) season. He has had some issues allowing hits and walks, but batters are getting by with a .341 BABIP and Buchholz has still kept his ERA under 3.00. With 9.7 K/9, a good ground ball rate and a very good whiff rate, Buchholz is showing the dominance that many have projected for years.
Under 40 percent
Juan Pierre, OF – Scott Podsedink is the king of the cheap steals world right now hitting over .400, but Pierre may be the better player before long. Pierre is still making great contact, but has fallen victim to a .228 BABIP on the young season. With consistent peripheral stats throughout his entire career, we should see those balls in play turn into hits before long. Once the AVG and OBP rise, the stolen base numbers will skyrocket.
Tyler Clippard, RP – Last season Clippard posted just under 10 K/9 as a reliever for the Nationals. So far this season he has struck out 14 in 11.2 innings while getting three vulture wins and taking hold of the setup job. Matt Capps (4.83 FIP) has gotten by so far by stranding over 95 percent of his base runners. He has also walked six in eight innings, adding to an ugly 1.86 WHIP. Should that strand rate regress (and it will) Capps could be in for some messy outings. If Clippard maintains his early season success, or at least something close to it, he may be first in line to take over closer duties. In the mean time, he’ll be a cheap source of strikeouts and perhaps a few more cheap wins.
Under 30 percent
Christian Guzman, SS/2B – Ian Desmond took Guzman’s job this spring, but Guzman has been the hot bat to start the season. His .327 AVG comes by way of a .407 BABIP, but Guzman hit .304 with 41 runs scored pre-all-star break last season so he could maintain this for a stretch. If you need some position flexibility, ride Guzman while he is hot.
Alcides Escobar, SS – Escobar is hitting .300 on the season, but has yet to steal a base. This is a clear case of a player just needing to settle in to the Major Leagues. With 42 stolen bases at triple-A last season, Escobar has the potential to put up at least 30 this season. Add him now before he starts to take off (figuratively and literally).
Clayton Richard, SP – Don’t look now, but 2010’s version of 2009 Kevin Correia may be in the same rotation. Richard was a good prospect in the White Sox organization and went to San Diego as part of the Jake Peavy deal. He has been working on new cut and two-seam fastballs early on and the results have been great. Richard has an early ground ball rate of over 50 percent. His command has been spot on as well (2.41 BB/9). While there is risk in a low-strikeout pitcher like Richard, I’d be more inclined to take a risk on one with a high ground ball rate and good velocity (91-94 mph from the left side).
Under 20 percent
Russell Branyan, 1B – For teams in need of a quick power boost, take a flier on Branyan. If healthy, he can hit home runs in bunches.