10 MLB Players On Hot Streaks Who Are About to Cool Off
10 MLB players who are about to come back to earth after a hot start
If you're a baseball fan, you could say that small sample sizes were made for April.
The start of the MLB season is a time for a lot of different things for a lot of different people, but perhaps the most fun thing about this time of April are the skewed numbers that turn up at the leaderboards.
With all of the excitement of having the game back in our lives for yet another year, it's easy to start over-analyzing early-season streaks from teams and opening week heroes.
Yes, while it doesn't take much of an expert in statistics to tell anyone that the performances over eight games are by no means any accurate representation for rest-of-season performances, it's still a habit that can be hard to kick.
The reason? Mostly because it's amusing, really.
One only needs to look back the myriad of “X has more homers than Albert Pujols” or “X has more wins than Cliff Lee” jokes from 2012 to understand just how far these early trends can be taken. Some of these will last a whole year, while others vanish at the flip of a switch, but if you happen to be a fan of baseball narratives, both will fit into that category nicely.
Which is to say that some of baseball's early-season heroes are bound to take a trip back to earth sooner or later; and for some, that trip is going to have a rougher landing than others.
How do you distinguish them? Well, there are a number of factors like level of competition, but history is a pretty good way to do it.
Of course, that's not to say that the players on this list aren't good, or that they can't be productive, nor is it to say that there aren't others who are overachieving, but it's one thing when Ryan Sweeney has a .962 OPS start in 2012 compared to Buster Posey's 1.016, yes?
That said, the following 10 MLB players are likely going to see their numbers take significant tumbles as the law of sample sizes takes care of things over the 2013 season.
Coco Crisp — Oakland Athletics
Here's what you need to know about Coco Crisp — he's fast, and he game is about getting on base enough times to use that speed.
What he's absolutely not, however, is a power bat with a .829 slugging percentage and a .486 ISO, both numbers which double his career averages. Yet after four home runs over his 39 PA, that's exactly where he stands.
Crisp might end up setting a new career-high for homers after this start, but don't expect it to last.
Hisashi Iwakuma — Seattle Mariners
Who is the best starting pitcher right now on the Seattle Mariners? If you're going by a minuscule two-start sample, that'd be Hisashi Iwakuma, who is tied with Felix Hernandez in ERA with 2.57 over 14 innings respectively, but is ahead of the king in BAA (.128 to .180), and leads the league in WHIP with 0.43.
Iwakuma is good, but he's not this good.
Todd Frazier — Cincinnati Reds
Obviously, Todd Frazier is a good young player with a whole lot of upside and good mix of skills at third base, but he strikes out a little too much (22.2 percent in 2012, 25 percent in 2013) and doesn't draw enough walks (7.7 percent in 2012, 8.3 percent in 2013) to be a 1.163 OPS superstar on pace for 60 homers in 2012.
Yes, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and it's easy to see that he's smashing the ball right now, but that .375/.444/.719 triple slash is going to come down from its .450 BABIP-inflated cloud soon.
Paul Maholm — Atlanta Braves
Paul Maholm has been an effective pitcher over his career, but one thing he is not is a strikeout artist.
Someone must have forgotten to tell him, though, as the lefty has struck out 13 batters over his first 12 innings of work (9.24 K/9 vs 5.74 over his career), putting together perfect ERA with a 0.87 WHIP and .156 BAA, despite that little has changed about his stuff.
The lefty's velocity is as low as ever (86.9 mph average fastball to start the season, though that'll move up a tad), and the contact rate will come back closer to his career 84.1 percent. That's not to say Maholm can't be effective there (because he can), but doing so via the strikeout just isn't his style.
J.P. Arencibia — Toronto Blue Jays
J.P. Arencibia is one the best power-hitting catchers in the league, and when he gets on tears, no baseball is safe, as his .741 slugging percentage and .444 ISO would indicate.
Sure, he's hitting .296 right now thanks to a .417 BABIP, but it doesn't take a whole lot of stats to show that it'll come down significantly, especially when he's striking out at an incredible 42.9 percent while walking just 3.6 percent over his first 28 PA.
Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have both seen and come to expect this, though, and it's the ability to go on power binges that makes the team comfortable with Arencibia as their starting catcher for now. This is a streaky slugger, and there'll be a fair share of ups and downs to normalize it as the PA numbers go up.
John Buck — New York Mets
You know, John Buck was largely expected to be a seat-warmer for youngster Travis d'Arnaud, and not be an offensive leader for the New York Mets. But, he's been doing the latter in just about every statistical category, smashing four homers and driving in 14 runs in a 1.244 OPS start through his first 28 PA.
Though he has made good on his 20-homer pop before in 2010, the are two straight sub-.700 OPS seasons that says it won't be long before he reverts to his role as future backup/mentor to d'Arnaud. In fact, Buck is just one year removed from hitting below the Mendoza line, so this drop might end up being pretty steep.
Still, as long as the Mets can keep winning record going, I'm sure they'll be happy to take it.
Chris Davis - Baltimore Orioles
From Quad-A, to leading the Baltimore Orioles in homers in 2012, to leading the league in OPS (1.542) and RBI (17) after seven games in 2013, Chris Davis has had quite the journey over the last season-plus.
Yes, there's very good chance that he can top his 33 homers from 2012, and while Davis' incredible .417/.500/1.042 triple-slash gives him a virtually unmatched start right now, the slugger's 30.7 percent career whiff rate says the 13.3 percent displayed so far in 2013 is going to be on the rise — which means the rest of those numbers are coming down.
That said, the power show is something that Orioles fans will be able to enjoy all season long.
Kevin Correia — Minnesota Twins
It wasn't exactly a secret that Kevin Correia isn't a strikeout artist, but the Minnesota Twins' starter has taken the pitch-to-contact game to a whole new level over two starts in 2013, recording just three strikeouts through 14.1 innings.
Yes, that'd be a 1.88 K/9 that he's putting up thus far, and though he has a clean 3.14/1.19 WHIP thanks to a 1.26 BB/9, a 1.50 K/BB isn't going to play that way all year, not when batters are hitting him at a .273 rate.
In short, he's finding fewer ways to get outs and being hit at a higher rate than he did last season, which makes his first two starts a bit of a luck-driven mirage. Correia's xFIP already has him at 4.62, and it won't be very long before the rest of the numbers start to catch up.
Vernon Wells - New York Yankees
Sorry, Vernon Wells, but whatever magic is in the Bronx and Yankee stadium, your hot start with the New York Yankees is going to be but a temporary flash.
Still, give the 34-year-old credit, as he's taken all the criticism in stride on his way to New York, and is doing his best to remind folks that he was once a great player by getting off to a .360/.467/.720 start over his first 30 PA.
That said, there's a reason why Wells with the Yankees in the first place, and there's a pair of sub-.700 OPS season that say that he's going to end up as the expensive bench player he was last season.
There might be a world where Vernon Wells is still a star player, but it isn't this one, and barring some sort of otherworldly magic, the Yankees will find that out sooner rather than later.