Data: .227/.321/.435, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 9 SB, 7 CS
Malfunction: Sizemore might not be the single most disappointing Cleveland Indian — for much of the year, that was probably a tossup between the recently-improved Jhonny Peralta(notes) and the demoted Fausto Carmona(notes) — but his average has been below .230 for much of the year, and he's been their regular leadoff hitter in nearly every game the Indians have played. There are a lot of reasons the Indians have been awful this year and unfortunately, Sizemore, one of the best players in the game the past five years, has been one of them.
Diagnosis: Sizemore is suffering from a low Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), .251, 64 points below his career average. But he's actually been in a multi-year slide, though you might not know it because he set a career high in homers last year. His batting average has slipped from .290 in 2006 to .277 in 2007, .268 in 2008, and now .227 this year. Over the same period his BABIP has dropped from .339 to .333 to .290 to .251. His line drive rate is also dropping, from 19 percent in 2006 and 21 in 2007, to 17 and then 16 this year. He's still hitting homers, but his decrease in line drives doesn't portend well. Neither does the extreme increase in caught stealing. Last year he stole 38 bases and was only caught five times; this year he's already been caught seven times with only nine successful swipes.
Reboot Directions: Sizemore has suffered elbow pain all year, and as a result was on the DL for much of June. He's also started 14 games as the Indians' DH. Yes, it was his first career DL trip, but he has a lot of miles on him already for a man who won't turn 27 till Sunday.
From 2005 to 2008 he played in all but nine of the Indians' 648 team games and emerged as a terrific hitter at the age of 22, but hasn't gotten a whole lot better since then, and the slide in his batting average has coincided with the most serious injury of his career, one which "will probably need surgery at the end of the season." They're going to need to find a way for him to get regular rest and continue playing him occasionally at DH, and possibly move him to a less taxing corner outfield position.
Until then, give Grady all the rest he needs because the Indians' season is over anyway.
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Data: .296/.334/.442, 6 HR, 34 RBI
Malfunction: Token All-Star Freddy Sanchez is pretty much a one-trick pony in that he's a second baseman who hits a bunch of singles and some doubles. He doesn't walk, he doesn't homer, and he's no better than average defensively.
But a second sacker who can hit isn't easy to find, so the Giants traded one of their best pitching prospects, Tim Alderson, for the mild offensive upside that Sanchez can provide.
Only problem? he's batting .250 with a .649 OPS since June 1.
Diagnosis: His career contact rate and BABIP are both well above league average, which means that he usually makes contact with the ball, and when he does, it often falls for a hit.
But, like any one-note player, when his one thing isn't working, he doesn't have much else to fall back on. On June 1, he stood with an impressive .325/.364/.495 line, one of the best offensive performances by any second baseman not named Chase Utley(notes), and much of it was thanks to an unsustainably high .374 BABIP. His .250 average since then has largely been thanks to a .284 BABIP. Because he doesn't walk or hit for much power, his offensive value is entirely tied to his batting average. And batting average fluctuates: Sanchez hit .344 in 2006 and .271 in 2008. Sanchez has basically undergone that exact swing this season.
Reboot Directions: The Giants traded for Sanchez after flash in the pan Emmanuel Burriss(notes) finally proved he couldn't hit and Juan Uribe(notes) booted away Jonathan Sanchez's(notes) chance at a perfect game. So they don't need Sanchez to do much: a .750 OPS would be just dandy. Low expectations are the key to this marriage working out well.
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Data: .213/.306/.414, 9 HR, 21 RBI
Quentin had a 2007 shoulder surgery and his breakout 2008 was ended prematurely by a self-inflicted wrist injury. He missed two months on the DL this year with a foot injury. With one hit in his last 21 at-bats, he clearly still isn't right.
"He looks like an old drunk. When you got something in your body that's sore and you try to work through that, everything in your body is beat up."
Diagnosis: Quentin is a month younger than Sizemore, but his body's so battered that it's going to be hard to justify keeping him in the field. He's already made three starts at DH this year, the first of his career. One more problem: Last year may have been a fluke, homer-wise: before the season, ESPN's Jason Grey found that "almost half of all of his bombs" were either windblown or "just enough," and also noted that wrist injuries tend to sap power. Diagnosis: he's banged up and it's not clear that he's healthy enough to help the team in the race for the AL Central.
Reboot Directions: Quentin reported to the Chicago Tribune that he's still feeling "some aches and pains," which is probably an understatement, given his reputed stubbornness and baseball players' usual tendency to ignore or minimize pain. But the White Sox are in the thick of a pennant race and probably don't want to lose Quentin's big bat for much longer. They may want to give Quentin a few more turns at DH and on the bench for his own good, though. The aches and pains he's been having this year have transformed him from an All-Star slugger to "an old drunk."
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What other playere are currently slumping?
Rick Porcello(notes), Detroit Tigers Porcello is having quite an up-and-down rookie year. His ERAs by month are 6.23, 1.50, 4.60, and 8.79. His success or failure this year has had a lot to do with his ability to minimize homers, especially since he doesn't strike many people out. He's given up homers in five straight games and multiple homers in the last two. Keep the ball down, rook!
Joe Saunders(notes), Los Angeles Angels Saunders's All-Star performance last year screamed "fluke" to a lot of people, and sure enough, his ERA is over 5.00 this year. Actually, he was pitching pretty well until he got bombed on the last day of June, and since then he's been a different man — 32 ER in 30.2 innings from June 30 through July 27, with eight homers allowed and 20 walks against only 13 strikeouts. He's throwing batting practice up there.
Ervin Santana(notes), Los Angeles Angels Unfortunately, so is Saunders's teammate, both from the Angels and the 2008 AL All-Stars, the "other" Santana. Ervin began the year on the DL and has been up and down all year. In the month of July, he has a 7.09 ERA. Somehow, the Angels have kept rolling, 18-7 in July, no thanks to those two.
- Carlos Quentin