Earlier this week, we looked at six players who were off to pleasantly surprising starts so far. But, alas, not everyone is feeling so wonderful about how their 2023 has begun.
For all the stories that are positive, there is at least someone on every team who was expected to do more than they have provided thus far. That doesn’t mean the season is doomed, of course; we’re not even a month in, after all. Still, we’re far enough along that if you’re struggling at this point, this can definitely be classified as a “slow start.”
Can they get it going? Here’s a look at the most notable slow starter for each team so far.
All stats are through Thursday’s games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: RHP Alek Manoah
The 2022 All-Star and third-place finisher in the AL Cy Young Award race got hit hard on Opening Day and hasn’t recovered, putting up a 6.98 ERA in four starts. Most alarming is his rate of seven walks per nine innings.
Prognosis: Manoah will have to make some adjustments to get that walk rate down, but this is still one of the finest young pitching talents in the game. He’ll be fine.
Orioles: OF/DH Anthony Santander
The Orioles are off to the sort of solid start that we’d all notice a little bit more if they were in a division that wasn’t so tough. But Santander, who had 33 homers last year, is lagging so far. He’s hitting .206 with just one homer, and he’s striking out in nearly one-third of his plate appearances.
Prognosis: The Orioles are doing fine without him, but to get where they want to go, they’ll need Santander to rediscover that power.
Rays: OF Manuel Margot
It’s tough to find anyone struggling all that much on this team right now, so the closest you can come up with is Margot. The Rays finally wrangled his talent into something resembling an average MLB hitter last year, but he has taken another step back in 2023, getting on base at only a .268 clip.
Prognosis: You have to wonder if the Rays will move on from Margot soon if he doesn’t get it going.
Red Sox: OF Masataka Yoshida
Lots of guys to choose from here, from Tristan Casas to Corey Kluber to Chris Sale, but the most high-profile Red Sox addition this offseason was Yoshida, who added to the excitement by having an outstanding World Baseball Classic. It hasn’t translated: He’s hitting .189 with only one homer so far.
Prognosis: The adjustment to MLB has been a little harder than we might have hoped, but in the WBC, we saw what he could do.
Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks
He has had some very public grumblings about how he has been used so far on this roster, but considering how he’s performing, it’s a wonder he has been used at all: He’s 3-for-24 with no extra-base hits so far.
Prognosis: We’re also not sure how he fits on this roster moving forward.
Guardians: 1B/DH Josh Naylor
The early struggles of free-agent signee Josh Bell have obscured the even-worse start to the season from Naylor, who many in the Guardians organization hoped could be a middle-of-the-order linchpin for years to come. He’s hitting .153 with just two homers -- and no other extra-base hits -- on a team that needs all the power he can provide.
Prognosis: The Guardians don’t have much choice but to stick with him. If it all comes together, he could be critical to this whole roster.
Royals: RHP Brady Singer
The Royals have had so much riding on their top 2018 Draft pick, for so long, that they must have hoped he’d finally turned a corner in 2022 (153 innings, 3.23 ERA). But he has skidded dramatically in his first four starts in 2023, getting rocked for an 8.14 ERA.
Prognosis: How much more patience will the new-look Royals have for Singer? As much as he requires given the lack of quality pitching depth available.
Tigers: SS Javier Báez
Báez’s miserable 2022 was well documented, but you certainly figured he’d hold onto his spot in the lineup for the first couple of weeks. Instead, he has dealt with a benching, gone homerless and seen his once-electrifying career continue to sputter.
Prognosis: He can’t be like this forever ... can he?
Twins: SS Carlos Correa
[Whispers] Um, has anyone noticed that Correa -- the guy we all spent the entire offseason obsessing over -- is hitting .207 with an OBP of just .277?
Prognosis: It’ll be fine. He’s still Carlos Correa.
White Sox: RHP Lance Lynn
As seems to be the case a lot with the White Sox the last few years, there are many candidates here, but you usually can count on Lynn giving you quality innings night in and night out. That has absolutely not been the case so far. Lynn has a 7.59 ERA, and Chicago has lost each of his four starts.
Prognosis: Lynn has put an awful lot of miles on that arm over the last decade or so. He might finally be running out of bullets.
Angels: LHP Tyler Anderson
The Angels signed Anderson away from the rival Dodgers hoping they could build on the improvements he made at Chavez Ravine, but so far, they’ve gotten nearly triple the ERA he put up last year.
Prognosis: He won’t remain this bad, but it would still behoove the Angels to maybe try to get some tips from the Dodgers on how to get that Tyler Anderson back.
Astros: 1B José Abreu
Houston’s big offseason acquisition somehow still doesn’t have his first Astros homer.
Prognosis: This contract might not look great in 2025, but Abreu will get it figured out for '23 -- sooner rather than later.
Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk
Your mileage on what constitutes a “disappointment” in Oakland right now may vary, but Waldichuk, the primary return from the Frankie Montas trade last year, has been hit hard. He’s giving up nearly two homers a game and walking a batter every two innings -- not a way to succeed.
Prognosis: The A’s don’t need to push Waldichuk: If he’s not ready, you don’t want to ruin him long term.
Mariners: 2B Kolten Wong
Brought in to shore up their infield defense and get on base, the veteran Wong is off to the worst start of his career: 5-for-51 with no extra-base hits is actively painful to contemplate.
Prognosis: Wong has always been a streaky hitter, but the bat speed seems to have slowed quite a bit.
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi
The other right-handed free agent starter the Rangers brought in, Eovaldi has dealt with some bad luck so far: His FIP is 2.28, nearly half his ERA. If you’re excited about the Rangers’ start, Eovaldi’s potential improvement could provide more room for growth.
Prognosis: His peripherals say he’s going to be just fine. Believe them.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies
The Braves’ blistering start has happened largely absent Albies, who is hitting homers (four) but only getting on base at a .263 rate. Fair to say, Albies’ current “more homers than walks” strategy is probably not sustainable.
Prognosis: He’s still Ozzie Albies, and still young. He’ll get it all worked out, and the Braves will be even better than they are now.
Marlins: 3B Jean Segura
Coming off a solid season that culminated in his first trip to the playoffs and reaching the World Series, Segura has been one of the worst hitters in the Majors early in 2023. He’s batting .186 with no extra-base hits and only three walks in 63 plate appearances.
Prognosis: Segura has been streaky throughout his career, but this was a risky move when the Marlins made it.
Mets: 3B Eduardo Escobar
Why did the Mets call up slugging third base prospect Brett Baty this week? Escobar is hitting .145. Will Escobar ever get his starting spot back?
Prognosis: Red alert, red alert. Baty may never give up that job.
Nationals: DH Joey Meneses
Last season’s surprise rookie sensation (at age 30) is batting .225 with no homers. Is the fairy tale over so soon after it began?
Prognosis: The league seems to have figured him out. But he sure seems like a guy who will surprise you with a second act.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola
Of all the scenarios the Phillies imagined going down in the first month, “Aaron Nola being the team’s worst starter” was not one that likely was at the forefront of their minds.
Prognosis: If you can’t count on Nola, you can’t count on anyone. He’ll likely get Cy Young votes again.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes
So much has gone right for the Brewers so far that it’s rather remarkable that Burnes, their best player, hasn’t really been a part of it. He has the lowest strikeout rate of the entire rotation, somehow.
Prognosis: The Brewers have gotten off to a blistering start, and Burnes, who has been through a lot with this franchise, isn’t going to miss being a part of it.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas
The Cardinals gave Mikolas a contract extension right before his Opening Day start, and Mikolas has responded to it by allowing 19 runs in 20 innings. That makes him the weak link in a rotation that’s having all sorts of issues right now.
Prognosis: Adam Wainwright will return soon, and Mikolas won’t have to be a No. 1. But they need him to at least be a No. 3. He should be able to do that.
Cubs: 1B/DH Trey Mancini
The Cubs’ pitching has been a revelation so far, but Mancini, brought in to be a big bat, hasn’t shown up. He has a .238 OBP and just one homer.
Prognosis: Wrigley fans are going to all end up loving him by the end of the year, like everybody else.
Pirates: LHP Rich Hill
The Pirates look considerably better than they have in a while, but Hill, every old guy’s bastion of hope, is carrying a 5.57 ERA and has allowed seven homers in 21 innings.
Prognosis: We all wanted to believe Hill would pitch until he was 50, but it sure isn’t looking that way.
Reds: C/DH Tyler Stephenson
The catcher finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2021 and was even better in 2022, although injuries limited him to just 50 games. But while he is still getting on base at a decent clip this year, he’s not hitting the ball with any authority, slugging a meager .308.
Prognosis: The talent is there, as is the batting eye. He may still end up the Reds’ All-Star representative.
D-backs: 1B Christian Walker
The D-backs have been as feisty in the early going as many suspected they might be, but one player who hasn’t been a factor is Walker, who has a .253 OBP.
Prognosis: He has been counted out a few times already and has roared back each time.
Dodgers: UT Chris Taylor
Taylor has been the Swiss-army-knife rock for this team for the last half-decade, but he hasn’t been able to get going in 2023. He has four homers in 45 plate appearances ... but only five total hits.
Prognosis: That the Dodgers have let Mookie Betts play shortstop is not a good sign for Taylor.
Giants: SS Brandon Crawford
Is this it for the Giants’ longtime shortstop? The 36-year-old is hitting .151 and looking a step slow everywhere.
Prognosis: He’ll be forever a legend in San Francisco.
Padres: 3B Manny Machado
The most surprising name on this list, Machado has gone from an MVP candidate last year to someone hitting .229 with just one homer. When he gets going -- and he will -- look out.
Prognosis: He’s Manny Machado, he might just end up winning the NL MVP anyway. Now, about Juan Soto’s .183 batting average ...
Rockies: SS Ezequiel Tovar
The Rockies are excited about the 21-year-old rookie, and the talent is clearly there. It hasn’t shown up in the results yet, though. He’s struggling with the bat, and even the defense has been a little wobbly. But there’s plenty of frustration to go around in Denver.
Prognosis: He might not be ready yet. But that doesn’t mean the Rockies shouldn’t let him play through it.