Eric Hosmer (1B, KC) - Hosmer was on the bench for a second consecutive game in part because a left-hander was on the mound. Against southpaws, Hosmer has just five hits in 43 PA (.125) and he struggled against them last season too, batting .237 as opposed to .315 against right-handed pitching. Hosmer is scuffling badly against everyone this year, though, he's batting just .174 overall with five HRs, 18 RBI, 16 R and a stolen base. Oddly enough, he isn't chasing as many bad pitches this season (29.7% O-Swing) and his Swinging Strike rate is down as well (7.8 percent). He's making good contact (82.6 percent) but his balls in play are finding nothing but leather (.165 BABIP). His batted ball profiled is mostly the same as last season, though, his groundball rate is slightly higher (52.8 percent). His HR/FB % is on target at 12.8 percent, so he hasn't had any trouble leaving the yard. Since he's still hitting the ball well, you can expect Hosmer to turn things around eventually as long as this slump doesn't get into his head. Consider him a good buy low candidate.
Howie Kendrick (2B, LAA) - After a torrid start to the season, Kendrick's numbers are beginning to regress and come down to Earth again. Over the past two weeks, he has just eight hits in 45 PA (.195), two for extra bases (0.49 ISO). Overall, his batting average is down to .259 on the strength of a .316 BABIP and his walk rate is at 4.2 percent, the lowest it's been since 2008 (3.3%). Meanwhile, he's striking out more than ever (23.9 percent K rate) and his Swinging Strike rate (10.5 percent)is at its highest rate since 2008 (12.3 percent). Not surprisingly, he is chasing more pitches than he has in many years as well (35.1 percent O-Swing). Historically, Kendrick has a career average of .298 in April, but only .240 in May, so his current swoon is right in line with his past. If he stays true to form he'll recover by mid -June, so hang in there with Kendrick who will almost certainly heat up along with Albert Pujols, whenever that happens. Buy low on Kendrick.
J.J. Hardy (SS, BAL) - May has certainly been a much kinder month for Hardy who is tearing the cover off the ball this month. Since May 1, Hardy is batting .351 with six homers, 14 RBI and 14 R to raise his season totals to .253 with 20 RBI and 25 R. His batted ball profile is a mirror reflection of 2011 as are his plate discipline metrics, with the exception of a significant improvement in his O-Swing, from 31.5 percent down in 2011 to 24.1 percent this year. Hardy is a typical slow starter so you can expect continued improvement as the weather heats up. Considering the improved lineup around him, Hardy could put up even better RBI and run totals this season. Consider him a strong buy low candidate, but be aware that your window of opportunity is closing fast.
Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, TB) - Zobrist is finally showing signs that he is breaking out of his early season funk. Over the past two weeks he's batting .316 with three HR, six RBI, seven R, and two stolen bases. Overall, he's batting .227 with six HR, 17 RBI, 21 R and three stolen bases. It's encouraging to see that Zobrist has a K:BB ratio of 28:31, a good sign that he's seeing the ball well. His O-Swing (23.8 percent) bears this out, as does his Swinging Strike rate (5.6 percent). He's making solid contact (82.9 percent), so we can surmise that his .242 BABIP is mostly due to bad luck rather than bad habits. Historically, Zobrist has scuffled in April (.229 Career Avg. for April) with May being his best month of the season (.293), so you can expect continued improvement from him well into July. He tends to fade in the second half, so it may be a good idea to move him after the All Star break.
Cody Ross (OF, BOS) - Ross homered for the second time in as many days, this time victimizing Cole Hamels, to bring his HR total for the season to eight. Ross is sporting a .271 batting average and a .238 Isolated power. He has 28 RBI and 24 runs scored for the Sox despite a rather high strikeout rate of 25.7 percent. Ross is swinging and missing quite often this season (11.2 percent SwStr%) and he is taking first pitch strikes more than 60 percent of the time. This has led to his Contact rate dropping down to 75 percent from last season's 81.3 percent, so the overall picture isn't so rosy for Ross. I think we're seeing Ross operate at his ceiling here, so while he might continue as he has performed to date, I wouldn't expect to see him do much better than this. Still, this level of power production is his best since 2009 with the Marlins, and the good news is that he's performing as well on the road as he is at home in Fenway Park. Ross is a solid third or fourth outfielder in mixed leagued and a must-own in AL-only formats. The power will continue but the average will fluctuate right around where it is for the rest of the season.
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