BALTIMORE -- It isn't quite the knee-jerk panic of a slow April, but with baseball past it's quarter pole and rounding the corner to the midway point, there's a lot of players who need to kick their finish into high gear.At the top of the American League East, there's a
BALTIMORE -- It isn't quite the knee-jerk panic of a slow April, but with baseball past it's quarter pole and rounding the corner to the midway point, there's a lot of players who need to kick their finish into high gear.
At the top of the American League East, there's a race between Boston and New York that shows no signs of not going down to the wire, making a resurgence from a slumping player on either -- or both -- clubs all the more intriguing. For Toronto, Tampa Bay and Baltimore, there are still plenty of candidates for a second-half surge, whether it's a big-name pending free agent or an established veteran playing nowhere near his track record.
Here are five players who are prime candidates to turn things around after a slow start.
Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson
Injuries have played a major role, but nobody expected Donaldson to be sitting on five home runs and 16 RBIs in the middle of June. Donaldson missed three weeks in April with a shoulder issue and he's currently on the disabled list with a calf injury, but when the three-time All-Star has been on the field, he has managed to post just a 0.6 WAR in 36 games. Donaldson is expected to return soon and there's a strong chance he will be shopped at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the 2015 AL MVP Award winner will need a return to form to build up appropriate value.
Orioles: Chris Davis
Davis is in the middle of a three-day layoff as the O's hope the first baseman can clear his head. After leading the Major Leagues in home runs twice in three years, Davis has 86 strikeouts and batting .150 with four homers and 15 RBIs. He's also signed to a record deal that includes four more years. Baltimore's priority is getting the slugger right, for this season and beyond.
Rays: Carlos Gomez
Gomez hit .182 in March, .172 in April and .232 in May, and he has tallied seven home runs and 14 RBIs on the season. While there's not much comforting about that, Rays fans can take heart in looking at the back of his baseball card. Gomez's career numbers suggest he should snap out of his funk soon. He owns a career .253/.312/.415 line in 12 Major League seasons.
Red Sox: Jackie Bradley Jr.
A notoriously streaky hitter, Bradley has started this season with the wrong kind of streak. His batting average has been below .200 for all but two days since April 30. Bradley, who belted 26 homers in 2016 and 17 last year, has also been almost silent in the power department. He is still an elite defender in center field, so the Red Sox just need adequacy and not excellence from Bradley to justify his spot in the lineup. There have been numerous times in Bradley's career he has followed epic cold streaks with prolonged hot streaks. Boston hopes history will repeat itself.
Yankees: Gary Sanchez
Sanchez was benched for the past two games because of his slump, as the backstop hit .075 (4-for-53) with just one extra-base hit and 18 strikeouts in the 15 games prior. His slash line has fallen to .190/.291/.430 with 12 homers and 35 RBIs in 55 games; last year, he hit .283/.369/.507 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs through his first 55 games. Sanchez has refused to use injuries as an excuse for his woes though perhaps there's something to be said for a little rest.
"Maybe I'm overthinking a little bit too much," Sanchez told reporters on Tuesday. "Maybe that's why I'm missing those pitches I usually don't miss. I'm sure that I'm going to get through this."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.