(Eds: With AP Photos.)By NOAH TRISTERAP Baseball Writer
Back on June 1, the AP unveiled a list of 10 players who were off to slow starts but were likely to bounce back quickly – some thinly veiled advice for fantasy players, if you will.
In the interest of accountability, now it’s time for a look back at how we did:
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ALBERT PUJOLS, 1B, ANGELS
What We Said: ”Pujols’ numbers began to slip a bit last year, but his .243 average in his first season with Los Angeles has been a shocker. There’s no reason to think the 32-year-old’s swing has deserted him for good. He might not reach 32 homers, his previous low for a season, but Pujols is hitting .329 since May 12. The worst seems to be over.”
What Happened: It almost felt like cheating to pick Pujols, whose track record made it fairly obvious he wasn’t going to keep scuffling for an entire season. His final numbers: .285, 30 homers and 50 doubles. Not bad considering what a nightmare April was.
TIM LINCECUM, RHP, GIANTS
What We Said: ”The two-time Cy Young Award winner has an unsightly 5.82 ERA, but he’s struck out 64 hitters in 60 1-3 innings. Lincecum has struggled to avoid the big inning, and he’s walking too many hitters, but his performance isn’t as bad as it’s looked. Opponents are hitting .339 off Lincecum on balls in play. That’s a fairly high number, especially for someone who is a bit of a groundball pitcher. Lincecum should improve as more balls start finding the gloves of his fielders.”
What Happened: Since June 1, Lincecum is 8-9 with a 4.87 ERA – better but still not very good. Instead of being San Francisco’s No. 1 starter in the playoffs, the Giants may simply be hoping he doesn’t hurt their chances.
MARK REYNOLDS, 3B, ORIOLES
What We Said: ”Reynolds is hitting .202 with only two home runs, but Baltimore fans have been through this before with the slugging third baseman. Last year Reynolds was hitting .193 at the end of May, but he finished the year with 37 homers. Low batting averages are the norm for Reynolds, but his power should be there now that’s he’s back from the rib cage injury that sent him to the disabled list earlier this month.”
What Happened: Reynolds finished the season with a .221 average and 23 homers in only 135 games. He turned 29 this year, and his power stroke seems fine if he can stay healthy.
MARK TEIXEIRA, 1B, YANKEES
What We Said: ”Usually a slow starter anyway, Teixeira has been playing through a terrible cough all season that’s sapped his strength and energy at times. In his last five games, Teixeira is 11 for 24 with four homers and nine RBIs. Just like that, the New York star is back on pace for another 30-homer season.”
What Happened: Teixeira ended up with only 24 homers thanks to more health problems. He’s been out for most of the last month with a left calf injury, and although he returned during the final series against Boston, he has to be considered a question mark going into the postseason.
MAX SCHERZER, RHP, TIGERS
What We Said: ”Scherzer might be the American League’s version of Lincecum, although he doesn’t have the career track record of the San Francisco ace. Scherzer has a 5.55 ERA this year, but he’s striking out an impressive 11.7 hitters per nine innings. Scherzer is clearly still fooling batters with his stuff. He’s also shown improved command lately and could be due for a breakout.”
What Happened: Lincecum could only wish he enjoyed this type of resurgence. Since June 1, Scherzer went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He finished the year with 231 strikeouts, second in the majors to teammate Justin Verlander.
JOSH JOHNSON, RHP, MARLINS, and ADAM WAINWRIGHT, RHP, CARDINALS
What We Said: ”Both pitchers came into the season off injuries to their throwing arms, and both have ERAs well over 4.00. But there are some encouraging signs. Their strikeout and walk rates are reasonably in line with what they were when these two were among the top pitchers in the National League. Wainwright has allowed only one run over 15 innings in his last two starts.”
What Happened: Johnson went 5-11 from the beginning of June on, but he was actually pretty good over that span, posting a 3.30 ERA. Wainwright also improved, going 10-8 with a 3.73 ERA since June 1. Perhaps most importantly, Johnson made 31 starts this year and Wainwright made 32.
IKE DAVIS, 1B, METS
What We Said: ”After missing most of last season with an ankle injury, Davis was diagnosed with a likely case of valley fever in spring training. Now he’s hitting .170, one of the worst averages of any regular in baseball. Davis is striking out about once a game, and when he does make contact the ball seems to go right at somebody – witness his .210 average on balls in play. Davis has a long, unorthodox swing that would seem to lend itself to lengthy slumps, but it’s too early to write off the 25-year-old after the promising start to his career.”
What Happened: Davis finished the year with 32 homers and 90 RBIs, salvaging a decent power-hitting season despite a final average of .227.
JUSTIN MORNEAU, 1B, TWINS
What We Said: ”Morneau was hitting .345 with 18 homers in July 2010 when a concussion knocked him out for the rest of that season. He hasn’t been the same since, hitting .233 in 103 games while battling other injury problems in 2011 and 2012. But he’s hit five homers since coming off the disabled list a couple weeks ago – a sore right wrist was keeping him out that time. At 31, Morneau should still have some productive at-bats left if he’s finally healthy again.”
What Happened: Morneau finished with a .267 average and 19 homers – and he stayed pretty healthy for the rest of the season. He has one year left on his contract, and still a lot to prove in terms of durability and productivity.
ADRIAN GONZALEZ, 1B, RED SOX
What We Said: ”The last-place Red Sox could use more from Gonzalez than a .267 average and four homers, but he does have 18 doubles, so there’s still plenty of pop in that bat. Last year Gonzalez hit .347 at Fenway Park, but a majority of his homers came on the road. Perhaps that should be the expectation going forward.”
What Happened: Gonzalez was traded from Boston to Los Angeles in August, but he picked up the pace with the bat as the season progressed. He hit .314 from June 1 on, finishing the year at .299 with 18 homers and 108 RBIs.