Two months into the baseball season, it’s no longer acceptable to shrug off a player’s struggles by saying, “Ah, it’s early.” It’s going to take a serious hot streak to make that sub-.200 batting average or near-2.00 WHIP look a little more respectable.
Nine players whose struggles we certainly didn’t see coming (and still can’t fully explain):
USA TODAY SportsEvan Habeeb
Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
After back-to-back top-five finishes in the AL MVP voting, Machado has looked absolutely lost at the plate (53 Ks in 245 plate appearances) and his six errors at the hot corner are just one fewer than his total from 2016 (when he also spent time at shortstop).
As poor as Machado’s April was (.224/.343/.424), his May was even worse (.191/.238/.391). Worth noting is his shockingly low BABIP in those two months (.234, .205). His BABIP through the first week of June: .286. And Machado might finally be starting to hit like Machado (.300/.333/.700 this month).
USA TODAY SportsPatrick McDermott
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees
Elbow problems? Catcher communication issues? Poor pitch selection? Whatever the case, Tanaka looks nothing like the Cy Young contender he was last season — or anything like the pitcher who posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his first three seasons in the majors.
After his latest clunker against the Red Sox on Tuesday, Tanaka has a 6.55 ERA this season and has allowed 11 homers over his past five starts. As impressive as the Yankees have been this season, imagine where they’d be with a consistent Tanaka.
USA TODAY SportsEvan Habeeb
Kyle Schwarber, LF, Cubs
Perhaps we simply expected too much too quickly, but that’s what happens when a guy makes an instant impact as a rookie in 2015 and then miraculously returns from a season-ending knee injury in time for the World Series — and doesn’t miss a beat. Even after that go-ahead grand slam against the Cardinals over the weekend, Schwarber — now in a platoon and at the bottom of the batting order — still is slashing just .162/.289/.346.
Even worse, it appears to be contagious — just ask teammate Addison Russell (.209/.291/.335).
USA TODAY SportsCaylor Arnold
Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox
In just a couple of short months, the left-hander has gone from the most coveted pitcher on the trade market to one of the season’s biggest mysteries (a question mark seems more appropriate on his jersey than the number 62). Quintana sports a 5.30 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and a 3.6 BB/9 ratio — all of which are eyesores when compared to his previous four seasons.
As his walk total illustrates, command has been among his biggest issues — but the trade distraction also might be a factor (ditto for struggling teammate Todd Frazier).
USA TODAY SportsPatrick Gorski
Matt Carpenter, 1B, Cardinals
A .285/.377/.464 hitter over the first five full seasons of his major-league career, Carpenter finds himself at .209/.341/.396 a third of the way through this season. St. Louis believed that finding him a permanent spot in the infield would provide some stability, but moving him from his customary leadoff role — in favor of the equally disappointing Dexter Fowler — might have offset that comfort level.
Carpenter has hit for some power (nine homers) but his slugging percentage is down more than 100 points since last season thanks to just five doubles.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers
He ended last season in the AL MVP discussion after setting career highs in homers (33), RBI (88), doubles (33) and OPS (.798). This season, there have been far more holes in Odor’s swing, as evidenced by his .204/.249/.352 slash line. There also have been questions about whether he is sacrificing his batting average and altering his approach in an attempt to hit more homers, but Odor has only eight long balls.
After repeatedly coming up empty with runners in scoring position, Odor was dropped to seventh in Texas’ batting order on Sunday (and stayed there Tuesday).
USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Jake Arrieta, SP, Cubs
A 4.46 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 1.4 HR/9 aren’t exactly the best resume bullet points for a guy in his contract year. Arrieta is just two seasons removed from a remarkable campaign that earned him the 2015 NL Cy Young Award, but his 93 ERA+ this season is more than 100 points below his performance in that 2015 season.
He’s simply been far too hittable (.259/.316/.451) even when compared to last season (.194/.277/.306).
USA TODAY SportsRon Chenoy
Alex Gordon, LF, Royals
The drop-off actually began last season, but his free-fall has been much more precipitous this season. Gordon is flailing along at .177/.291/.229 and finally hit his first homer Tuesday in his 200th plate appearance in 2017. During his three All-Star seasons (2013-15), he slashed .267/.348/.428 and averaged 17 homers and 67 RBI while flashing a Gold Glove in left field.
Gordon briefly shifted to center and right field this season, while going from the leadoff spot — where Alcides Escobar also has failed to get going — to the No. 9 hole. The big question: Is Gordon healthy?
USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Bartolo Colon, SP, Braves
Not that anyone expected him to add an NL Cy Young Award to bookend with his AL hardware, but Colon has been brutal (2-7, 7.78 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9) in his first season with Atlanta. Remember, he went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and an NL-leading 1.5 BB/9 for the Mets last season. Perhaps it’s as simple as Father Time remaining undefeated (Big Sexy is 44, after all), or maybe it really is the "oblique injury" that landed him on the DL on Tuesday.
On the bright side, Colon’s struggles have helped to overshadow those of rotation-mate Julio Teheran and teammate Dansby Swanson.