Data: .288/.375/.485, 15 HR, 72 RBIs, 15 SB
Malfunction: Evan Longoria is often said to be the best young player in baseball and he's signed to baseball's team-friendliest contract. He also ain't a bad-looking fella, either.
But Longoria is at least one more thing and that's a solid candidate for Slumpbot's services. Since the All-Star break, Longoria is hitting just .245 with two homers. And if you extend our view, you'll find it's been a bit of a rough summer — after hitting 10 homers in 51 games in April and May, Longoria has only hit five in 61 games since June 1. (His fantasy owners will also notice that he stole 10 bases during the first two months, but only five since for an exact mirror of his homer stats.)
Diagnosis: What's really going on here? It could be something to do with his BABIP as it was a sky-high .370 during the first two months of the season, when he was hitting .323, and it's been .302 over the past 2 1/2 months. He had an average BABIP of .312 during his first two seasons, so it makes sense to assume that his true talent lies somewhere in the middle, and so his second-half slump is nothing more than a perfectly ordinary regression to the mean. Other than the power outage, he's having his best season as he has the lowest strikeout rate, highest walk rate, highest contact rate, and highest batting average of his career. He's actually been walking much more and striking out less this summer, becoming a choosier hitter even as fewer hits have fallen.
Reboot Directions: It would be a lot easier if the Rays would stop getting no-hit and one-hit. They've swallowed a no-hitter, a perfect game, and three one-hitters. (In the most recent one-hitter, Brandon Morrow's(notes) gem on Sunday, Longo collected the Rays' only hit.) Right now, Longoria isn't a .300 hitter, but that's about the only bad thing you can say about him. He's had a mild summer power slump, but he's continued to hit doubles and refine his approach at the plate, so Rays fans shouldn't worry. The best young player in baseball isn't going anywhere.
Adrian Gonzalez(notes), San Diego Padres .290/.384/.504, 22 HR, 71 RBIs
Believe it or not, the best hitter on the team with the best record in the National League has been scuffling for a month. Since the All-Star break, Gonzalez is batting .250 with a .734 OPS, surprisingly pedestrian numbers for one of the most feared hitters in the league. (In August he's just 8-for-35.) The Padres seem to have caught the same bug, as they're just 5-6 in their last 11 games and only 2.5 games up on those pesky Giants. They'll need A-Gone to turn it around if they want to put the division away.
Josh Willingham(notes), Washington Nationals .262/.384/.446, 15 HR, 54 RBIs
Think the Nats should have traded him at the deadline? Willingham has been in a terrible slump ever since the All-Star break, batting .192 with a .524 OPS in his last 23 games. (He's also homerless since July 2.) The Nationals chose to hold onto their two potential trade chips, Adam Dunn(notes) and Josh Willingham, but they may be wishing they'd taken advantage of the peak of Willingham's trade value. He was enjoying a career year during the first half, but has since regressed to the same guy he's always been: a .260 hitter with some power and walks.
Carlos Beltran(notes), New York Mets .195/.308/.312, 1 HR, 7 RBIs
It's been lately overshadowed by the latest Jeff Francoeur brouhaha, but the numbers are hard to ignore: Carlos Beltran just hasn't been himself. Since coming back from injury, he's 15-for-77 with just six extra base hits. Perhaps most worrisome is that he's zero for one in stolen-base attempts. (Beltran is a career 88 percent basestealer, with 286 stolen bases and just 39 times caught stealing.) Microfracture surgery is risky business and only time will tell whether he'll heal fully for his contract year in 2011. But the man playing center field for the Mets is clearly not fully recovered right now.
- Evan Longoria