You would think after all of these years I’d have a better handle on baseball trends, but no, I still can’t figure out the difference between a hot streak and stardom and a slump and the end of a career. But then, since no one in baseball can, either, I don’t know why I have greater expectations for myself.
Just for starters, how about Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton, and Stephen Strasburg. This all relates to the law of baseball averages which in some cosmic sense is tied to the law of averages in daily life, though the person who deciphers that connection will win a Nobel Prize for mathematics. Won’t she?
Let’s start with Pujols. April can be summarized as “What’s wrong with Albert?” month. When the disparaging remark, “He isn’t even hitting his weight” gets thrown around it rarely means a guy has missed by 50 pounds, but that’s where the new Los Angeles Angel was sitting. He was hitting about .190 and weighing about 240.
Eventually the law of averages caught up with Pujols and he began smashing the ball here, there and everywhere and has raised his batting average like 70 points. Maybe reports of his demise were premature, though this is the second straight slow start for the Man Who Would Be King. For now, to the Angels’ great relief and to Albert’s avoiding great embarrassment, it seems he still can hit.
On to Adam Dunn. No one’s career looked deader than Dunn’s last year when he not only couldn’t hit his weight he couldn’t hit a whiffle ball. Never a high average hitter, Dunn is hitting a rather lowly .227 right now, but has still managed to hit 22 home runs so far. I wouldn’t have bet a Lincoln penny that Dunn would be on pace for a 40-homer season by mid-June.
Good old Jim Thome. I love him. Anyone who comes into contact with him and spends more than 30 seconds with him loves him. Great guy. But a week ago, after being injured, he was hitting .105. Now he is hitting .293. Who raises their batting average 200 points in a week? I think he has had three multiple-hit games this week. Good on ya, Jim.
Of course, a couple of weeks ago Derek Jeter was hitting .400 and now he’s trying to stay above .300, and Josh Hamilton was hitting .400 and he’s down to .330. Those oh-for-four games get costly in a hurry.
As for Stephen Strasburg, well, the most heralded pitching prospect in a decade or more practically never loses. From the moment the Washington Nationals brought him up (and injury notwithstanding) Strasburg has been king of the hill.
This year Strasburg is 8-1 with a 2.45 earned run average. It looks as if the kid is going to be alright. Of course, now he will probably go 3-5 in his next eight starts or something.