10 hitters who have heated up after a cold start

May 25th, 2024

Good things come to those who wait.

You could say that adage has borne out for these 10 hitters this season. They didn't have a very strong beginning to the 2024 campaign, but they have bided their time, made some adjustments and are now among the hottest hitters in the sport.

All stats updated through Thursday.

, CF, Yankees
On April 20, some fans inside Yankee Stadium booed the team captain. Judge, amid a four-strikeout afternoon against the Rays that dropped his average to .179, heard the displeasure from the spectators. His response?

“I’d probably be doing the same thing in their situation."

But talk is cheap. Judge really responded with his bat and has slashed .346/.482/.794 with 12 homers in 31 games since that low point. However, that doesn't fully capture his turnaround. Judge is not on just another hot streak right now; he is having one of the best months in recent memory. His 27 barrels are already the most in a calendar month during the Statcast Era (since 2015). Among hitters with 75 plate appearances, his 1.475 OPS is 262 points clear of the next closest player (the Astros' Kyle Tucker), and Judge's .942 slugging percentage is third-best in any month since 2015.

, 2B, Padres
It wasn't like Arraez was having a bad year when he was traded from the Marlins to the Padres on May 3. He was batting .299 with a .347 on-base percentage at the time of the move. He just wasn't quite looking like the hitter who was being mentioned in the same sentence as Ted Williams at times last summer.

But in San Diego -- the city where Williams was born and Tony Gwynn became a legend -- Arraez has squared up just about every pitch he has seen. He picked up four hits in his first game as a Padre and then notched a walk-off knock in his first game at Petco Park. He has 31 hits in 17 games since the trade, good for a .419 average that has been boosted by Arraez's amazing run of eight consecutive multihit performances entering Friday. His time with the Padres includes 10 multihit performances and only three strikeouts.

Arraez's recent brilliance has him in contention for a batting title with a third team, something that has never been achieved.

, 1B, Blue Jays
If the Blue Jays are going to recover from their disappointing start to the season, they need their stars -- namely Guerrero and Bo Bichette, who also has a case for this list -- to lead the way. Toronto is only 7-6 in its past 13 games, but during that span, those two have combined for a 1.000 OPS across 112 plate appearances. Perhaps a team meeting on May 7 provided the jolt they needed.

Guerrero, who entered May 8 with a .235 average and a .335 OBP, has batted .412 with a .483 OBP since then. Those two numbers as well as his 69% hard-hit rate rank third in MLB (min. 50 PA). Although 18 of his 21 hits have been singles, Vlad's ground-ball rate has declined about five percentage points over the past two-plus weeks, down to a near-league-average 45.2%. Putting more balls in the air has always been key for Guerrero given how often he makes loud contact. On Thursday, a two-run homer to the deepest part of cavernous Comerica Park showed that the 25-year-old can still be an extremely dangerous power hitter.

, 1B, Phillies
After going 0-for-11 to start the season, Harper's three-homer game on April 3 was supposed to get him out of his slump. But Harper's next 11 games included zero dingers, one RBI and a .527 OPS. Harper really didn't start to get on track until mid-April, and he has been absolutely mashing in May. He owns a .352/.454/.662 slash line this month with 10 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 19 games.

And don't throw him a fastball; Harper is 17-for-35 with an .829 slugging percentage against heaters in May. Not to mention that he's also batting .364 against offspeed pitches. It seems like everything he's doing right now is working, on and off the field.

, 2B, Phillies
When your team has the best record in the Majors and just strung together the franchise's best 35-game stretch since the 19th century, you get two players on this list. That's the rule.

Stott carried a .284 slugging percentage and a .559 OPS through his first 25 games. Game No. 26 came on April 28, when he tripled his homer total from one to three in a victory over the Padres. From that night, Stott has a .606 slugging, and his 1.078 OPS is bested by only Judge (1.424) and Tucker (1.232).

Stott's selectivity at the plate has been one of the main reasons for his recent success. As his chase rate has fallen during this stretch (29.4% to 19.2%), he has recorded 17 walks and only seven strikeouts over his past 89 plate appearances. His strikeout in the fifth inning of Thursday's win over the Rangers was his first since May 8 -- a span of 52 PAs.

, 3B, Red Sox
Devers limped, literally and figuratively, through the first few weeks of the season. Batting a bone bruise in his left knee, he registered a .188/.325/.375 slash line through April 17. He rested for the next five games and although he wasn't at 100% upon his April 24 return, his bat sure looked healthy as he registered his first three-hit performance of the season. He picked up another three hits the following day.

The 27-year-old has been rolling since, batting .320 with a 1.034 OPS over his previous 26 games. Devers' hot streak led to some history earlier this week as he homered in six consecutive games, setting a Red Sox record.

, SS, Rangers
"I have no concerns.”

That's what Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said earlier this month regarding his star shortstop's early-season slump, which included a 7-for-54 rut from April 20 through May 5. Turns out no concern was warranted. Seager has raised his OPS by 157 points over his past 14 games thanks to a .314/.444/.686 slash line. This flourish also contains a 26.2% barrel rate. That's fourth-best in the big leagues during that period (min. 50 PA) and nearly triples Seager's 8.8% barrel rate through his first 32 contests.

This barrage of barrels has led to a homer surge for Seager. The 2023 World Series MVP bopped just two dingers through his first 32 games before homering six times in his past 14. No matter if you use a glove or a plate of nachos, Seager is hitting a lot of balls right now that can't be caught.

, 3B, Giants
Chapman didn't have to worry about a cold start last year; he was the AL Player of the Month for April while with Toronto. It was every other month that kind of did him in as he batted .205 with a .659 OPS from May 1 on. Perhaps this season, his first with the Giants, will play out in reverse.

After logging a .651 OPS in his first month with San Francisco, Chapman has been positively scorching of late. Since May 11, he is batting .373 with a 1.183 OPS. And the stats get really intense if you zero in on Chapman's previous six games: 13-for-23 with five doubles, three home runs and an 1.829 OPS. Chapman homered in each game during the Giants' series win in Pittsburgh this week, putting him in the running for NL Player of the Week honors.

Oh, and the four-time Gold Glover can still leave you in awe with his defense, too.

, DH, A's
Rooker has recovered from an April in which he hit .206 with a .299 OBP. He has a .354 average, a .421 OBP and six homers since the calendar flipped. How'd he do it? Rooker said, simply enough, that he just stopped fishing for bad pitches and started swinging at good ones.

The stats back up his approach. Rooker's chase rate from April to May has fallen 11 percentage points, from 35.7% to 24.7% (league average is 28.7%). As a result, he has also slashed his K rate from an unsightly 40% to a more manageable 25%.

Rooker was left famished against fastballs through the season's first month (.152 average, .273 slugging), but now making more contact, he has feasted on heaters in May (.395 average, .744 slugging).

, RF, Twins
Baseball's top three in wRC+ this month offers no surprises. You've got Judge (295), Shohei Ohtani (232) and Tucker (230) holding down those spots. No. 4? That's Kepler, who possesses a 208 wRC+ and a .356/.415/.678 slash line during May.

Kepler's season started poorly as he went 1-for-20 in his first four games, and then things got worse as a right knee contusion necessitated a trip to the injured list. After missing 13 games, however, Kepler returned in midseason form. He has a hit in 23 of 26 games since his activation. That included a career-best 14-game hitting streak from April 27 through May 12.