Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

17 notable slumps that may comfort Chris Davis

@_dadler and @SlangsOnSports and @AndrewSimonMLB
April 9, 2019

Baseball is a game of ups and downs. Failure is an inevitable part of life in the big leagues -- but sometimes the downs drag on for an especially long time, testing a player’s physical and mental fortitude. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is locked in such a slump. On

Baseball is a game of ups and downs. Failure is an inevitable part of life in the big leagues -- but sometimes the downs drag on for an especially long time, testing a player’s physical and mental fortitude.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is locked in such a slump. On Monday night, Davis grabbed a slice of infamy by extending his hitless streak -- which began at the end of the 2018 season -- to 49 at-bats, an all-time record.

As the 33-year-old tries to work his way back to his former All-Star form, here is a look at 17 notable hitters -- all All-Stars at some point in their careers -- who know what it’s like to endure a significant slump. We’ve broken them down into categories based on the type of slump each guy went through.

SLUMP CATEGORY NO. 1: YOUNG AND LEARNING

Aaron Judge, Yankees, Aug. 16 to Sept. 11, 2016 -- .130/.208/.188, 1 HR in 77 PA: Judge crushed a home run in his very first Major League at-bat on Aug. 13, 2016, against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. He hit another the next day, and he went 2-for-3 with a double the day after that. Then the strikeouts started piling up. In 22 games from Aug. 16 through Sept. 11, Judge managed just one home run and nine hits in 77 plate appearances, while striking out 37 times -- including 14 multi-strikeout games. But Judge banished those early struggles with a monster 2017 campaign, crushing 52 homers in his first full big league season as he ran away with the AL Rookie of the Year Award and finished as runner-up for AL MVP.

Robinson Cano, Yankees, April 2008 -- .151/.211/.236, 2 HR in 114 PA: Cano experienced his first real growing pains in April 2008. The up-and-coming second baseman had finished as runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year in 2005, earned his first All-Star nod and Silver Slugger Award in '06 and hit .306 in 160 games in '07. But he was still just 25 entering 2008, and after April he was hitting just .151 with a pair of homers -- one of which was tacked on at the very end of the month. Cano had trouble finding his power stroke all season, and he finished 2008 with a career-low .271 batting average. But he kicked things into gear in 2009, hitting .320 with 25 homers and earning some MVP votes.

Yadier Molina, Cardinals, April 3 to May 1, 2006 -- .146/.155/.183, 0 HR in 85 PA: Molina’s Hall of Fame case will center on his defense, and it’s his glove that got him to the Majors as a 21-year-old in 2004. But the development of his bat from those early days has been highly impressive, too. Molina produced a .662 OPS over his first two seasons but then opened ‘06 in a brutal slump. Through May 1, he had one walk, three extra-base hits and a .338 OPS. Molina returned to his 2005-06 level for the rest of the season, but a hot streak during the Cardinals’ championship playoff run (.358/.424/.547) foreshadowed his future emergence as a threat at the plate.

Ozzie Smith, Padres, Aug. 31 to Oct. 4, 1981 -- .136/.227/.168 in 146 PA: The Wizard of Oz was no slugger, but Smith was about a league-average hitter over his run of 11 straight All-Star and Gold Glove seasons with the Cardinals from 1982-92, and he even won the Silver Slugger at shortstop in '87. In 1981, the 26-year-old Smith made his first career All-Star team with the Padres, after winning his first Gold Glove the season prior. But he closed the year 17-for-125 at the plate, and while that didn't stop him from winning the Gold Glove again, it would have been hard to have his longevity if he didn't improve after his trade to the Cardinals that winter.

Roger Maris, Athletics, July 30 to Aug. 30, 1959 -- .082/.269/.118, 0 HR in 108 PA: Maris was roughly a league-average hitter over his first two seasons in the Majors, getting traded from Cleveland to the Kansas City A’s in June of 1958. The next year looked like a breakout. Despite missing time to have his appendix removed, Maris made his first All-Star team and sported an OPS over 1.000 in late July. But then, from July 30 through the end of August, Maris went just 7-for-85 -- though he did draw 21 walks. He recovered somewhat in September (.716 OPS), and was traded two months later to the Yankees, who immediately saw Maris win back-to-back AL MVP Awards and set the single-season home run record in 1961.

SLUMP CATEGORY NO. 2: HELD BACK BY INJURY

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, March 30 to April 30, 2018 -- .149/.259/.189, 1 HR in 85 PA: Rizzo had been about as consistent as it gets from 2014-17, averaging 32 homers a year with a .910 OPS over that span. But after homering on Opening Day 2018, he went into a month-long skid as he was hampered by a back injury that in mid-April sent him to the injured list for the first time in his career. In 17 games from March 30 to April 30, Rizzo didn't have a single extra-base hit. Once the calendar flipped to May, though, Rizzo started hitting, and he finished the season with a .283/.376/.470 slash line and 25 homers.

Adam Dunn, White Sox, August/September 2011 -- .143/.274/.200, 1 HR, 43 K in 124 PA: Dunn had just signed a $56 million free-agent contract with the White Sox in December 2010 after averaging 40 homers over the previous seven seasons. His debut season in Chicago was a mess. Dunn homered on Opening Day, but after an early-April appendectomy Dunn's production suffered, and he hit just .159/.292/.277 in 496 plate appearances on the season, with 11 home runs and 177 strikeouts … but he recovered. In 2012, Dunn crushed 41 home runs and was named an All-Star for the second time in his career. If Chris Davis is looking for a sign of hope, Dunn might be the best-case scenario, given their similar “Three True Outcome” hitting approaches. Of course, Dunn was two years younger in 2011 (age 31) than Davis is now.

David Ortiz, Red Sox, April 30 to May 31, 2009 -- .140/.279/.237, 1 HR in 111 PA: Big Papi had cemented himself as a Red Sox icon from 2004-07, leading them to two World Series titles, finishing in the top four of AL MVP voting every year, winning four Silver Sluggers and making four All-Star teams. But in 2008, a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist limited him to 109 games, and in early ’09, he still didn't look right. Ortiz didn't hit his first homer until May 20 that season -- his 36th game -- and that was his only long ball over the first two months. But of course, Papi finally broke out of his funk in June -- he hit seven homers apiece in June, July and August, and six in September. In 2010, he was an All-Star again, starting a run of five All-Star seasons in the final seven years of his career.

SLUMP CATEGORY NO. 3: IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST

Bryce Harper, Nationals, May 31 to June 23, 2018 -- .143/.265/.229, 1 HR in 83 PA: In May and June 2018, the 2015 NL MVP went through a particularly rough 20-game stretch, but by the end of the season, he’d found is footing, finishing with 34 home runs, a Major League-leading 130 walks, and an .889 OPS. It was enough to earn him a record-breaking $330 million free-agent contract with the Phillies.

Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs, April 27 to May 22, 2018 -- .116/.224/.163, 1 HR in 98 PA: Goldschmidt had made the All-Star game the previous five seasons and finished in the top three of NL MVP voting three times for the D-backs, but he struggled badly early in 2018. On May 22, he was below the Mendoza Line, but he found his stroke, hitting .328 from May 23 on, and even made his sixth straight trip to the Midsummer Classic. Goldy finished the year with a .290/.389/.533 slash line and 33 home runs, was traded the following winter to the Cardinals and signed a five-year, $125 million extension before the season even began.

Mike Trout, Angels, Aug. 1-23, 2015 -- .176/.315/.270, 1 HR in 89 PA: Even Trout, probably the best player of this generation and an all-time great, has gone through some slumps. He had injured his left wrist diving for a ball in the outfield toward the end of July, and missed a couple of games, but he pointed to issues with his front-foot timing in his swing as the root of his power outage. Of course, the slump didn't last much longer beyond that. Trout had a big September to reach the 40-homer plateau for the first time, finished second in the AL MVP voting and has somehow gotten even better since then.

Mark Teixeira, Yankees, April 2010 -- .136/.300/.259, 2 HR in 100 PA: Teixeira entered 2010 coming off one of the best years of his career -- in an All-Star debut season in New York, he'd hit .292/.383/.565 with an AL-leading 39 homers and 122 RBIs, finished as the runner-up for MVP and helped lead the Bronx Bombers to the 2009 World Series championship. And then, in the first month of the follow-up, he just didn't hit. Teixeira was hitting just .136 at the end of April, and he'd homered only twice. But Tex rebounded to finish the year with 33 home runs, and he hit another 39 in 2011, placing in the AL MVP voting both seasons.

Derek Jeter, Yankees, March/April 2004 -- .168/.255/.232, 1 HR in 108 PA: Jeter entered 2004 as a career .317 hitter, and he'd just hit .324 in 2003 plus .314 in the postseason -- in addition to being named the Yankees' captain that summer. So it was a surprise to see him well below the Mendoza Line at the end of April. He didn't hit his first homer until April 29, but from May onward, Jeter was himself again, hitting .314/.369/.513 with 22 homers and 64 extra-base hits the rest of the season. Jeter would go on to hit .300 for the next five seasons and earn All-Star nods in seven of the next eight.

SLUMP CATEGORY NO. 4: NEARING THE END OF THE LINE

Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins, Sept. 4 to Oct. 4, 2015 -- .118/.153/.118 in 74 PA: By the time he signed with the Marlins entering his age-41 season, Ichiro was no longer the perennial All-Star he once was. Still, he had just hit .284 in his last season with the Yankees at age 40, and he bore a .317 lifetime batting average. But 2015 ended up the most difficult year of Ichiro's career to that point. Ichiro closed the year on a month-long 8-for-65 stretch with no extra-base hits, finishing with a .229 batting average. Even though he recovered to hit .291 in '16, he never topped .300 again.

Chase Utley, Phillies, April 6 to May 8, 2015 -- .099/.175/.198, 3 HR in 103 PA: Utley was an All-Star in 2014 for the first time since 2010, but the 36-year-old got off to a brutal start the next year. A week into May, he was hitting under .100, with nine hits in 91 at-bats, and he'd gone hitless in 19 of his 26 games. The longtime Phillies second baseman was traded to the Dodgers in August, and he became a valuable role player and clubhouse leader in Los Angeles, retiring after the 2018 campaign.

Cal Ripken, Orioles, September/October 2001 -- .151/.202/.245, 2 HR in 114 PA: Ripken had announced in June 2001 that he would retire at the end of the season, his 21st in the Majors, so this was the farewell tour for the Hall of Famer. Ripken didn't produce much at the plate in his final run of big league games, but more important was the Orioles' sendoff for their franchise legend. Ripken got career hit No. 3,184 at Camden Yards on Oct. 5 and played his final game there the next day.

Joe Morgan, Reds, August 1978 -- .139/.247/.236, 2 HR in 85 PA: The 1975 and ’76 NL MVP was still an All-Star in ‘78, but he slumped through much of August, contributing to arguably his worst season ever as a full-time player (a .236/.347/.385 slash line). Morgan was able to get his career back on track, though, and thanks to his keen batting eye, he kept a high enough OBP to post an OPS+ above 100 (league average) in every season he played in the 1980s.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.