June 12, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano (12) breaks his bat hitting a single against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
In baseball, there's a phrase that goes, "Looks like he's finally heating up with the weather now." The idea is basically that hitters perform better once the summer heat rolls around; therefore, they're joining the climate in its progressive increases in, well, production. (The sun makes heat, Joey Votto makes homers, or something.)
But that phrase got me thinking, because you often see players at the bottom of offensive leaderboards a few weeks into the season, only to see them magically pop up somewhere significantly different in the near future. Trying to find specific names on those FanGraphs leaderboards can be like a less colorful version of Where's Waldo.
So, who are the guys that really bombed early in the season, only to quietly move back up the ranks? Which players made you think they were donezo in April, only to remind you in May that you don't judge an athlete based on a couple weeks*?
*Nobody tell LeBron James that this week.
Let's take a look at some of the key players from this season that have truly heated up along with the outside temp.
First 30 games: .250/.288/.302, 6 2B, 0 HR
Past 27 games: .316/.374/.755, 7 2B, 12 HR
We've always known that Soriano is streaky, so this one doesn't really qualify as "heating up" so much as we're just seeing the standard fluctuations in his performance. Frankly, the Cubs should probably trade him soon if they can, because he's probably going to dip back into one of his funky slumps soon.
First 31 games: .218/.279/.337, 6 2B, 2 HR
Past 22 games: .363/.446/.713, 10 2B, 6 HR
I could write about Goldschmidt's actual performance, but I'd prefer to point out that as of today, Goldschmidt has the same number of home runs, RBI, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases as he had during his stint with the Diamondbacks last season. That's just... so baseball.
First 35 games: .197/.235/.275, 8 2B, 1 HR
Past 28 games: .352/.417/.657, 9 2B, 8 HR
Remember this guy? Also, may I happily point out that while his .352/.417/.657 line is impressive over the past month or so, keep in mind that this man once hit .357/.462/.653 over the course of an entire season. So yeah, he's back, but not really.
First 27 games: .255/.303/.355, 8 2B, 1 HR
Past 35 games: .326/.385/.659, 13 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR
It's getting harder and harder to argue that Cano is anything other than the best second baseman in baseball. I remember that Peter Gammons once wrote that Cano had the potential to finish a season batting .330 with 30 homers. Seemed like crazy talk at the time, but now I'm not so sure.
First 33 games: .219/.318/.406, 4 2B, 4 HR, 2 SB
Past 24 games: .348/.451/.696, 2 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 4 SB
After three years of toeing the line as a fringe average center fielder, it appears that Fowler is finally having his breakout as a 26-year-old. But for those that are wondering, his splits are the kind of thing that can be scary: 1.069 OPS vs. RHP, .623 OPS vs. LHP; 1.073 OPS at home, .570 OPS away.
First 32 games: .177/.319/.336, 3 2B, 5 HR
Past 31 games: .293/.385/.698, 5 2B, 14 HR
For a little bit there, you probably wondered if Bautista's reign as an elite hitter had ended. The answer to your calls? Nope, not yet. Over Bautista's past 11 games, he's walked 11 times and hit seven home runs, good for a 1.368 OPS over that span despite a batting average below .300.
First 31 games: .196/.226/.304, 2 2B, 3 HR
Past 26 games: .330/.356/.629, 2 2B, 9 HR
Viciedo may never walk much, but he's given an awful lot of reasons to believe that he can hit at the big league level in spite of this. He's got obscene in-game power and an ever-improving hit tool, so at this point you'd have to admit that he's one of the most exciting young players in that organization.
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
First 30 games: .212/.269/.364, 6 2B, 4 HR
Past 29 games: .294/.397/.569, 7 2B, 7 HR
At this point, watching Mark Teixeira play is a tad scary. Considering all the money coming his way in the near future, every slump he goes into makes you wonder when he'll stop having these terrible stretches of play. As he enters his 30's, the unfortunate reality is that he's probably going to be this streaky going forward.
So, what's the lesson here? It's pretty simple: don't get freaked out when your star player stumbles at the beginning of the season. Nine times out of ten, an unimaginably bad April simply leads into an unimaginably good May. The other time is simply Adam Dunn, 2011. And in that case? Look away, my friend.
Satchel Price is a newsdesk contributor for SB Nation Midwest and a feature columnist for SB Nation Chicago. His baseball writing also appears on MLB Daily Dish and Beyond the Box Score. For more of his splendid whimsy in display,