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News » Lurie: Through 100 or so at-bats, here are baseball's heroes and zeroes so far

Lurie: Through 100 or so at-bats, here are baseball's heroes and zeroes so far

Lurie: Through 100 or so at-bats, here are baseball's heroes and zeroes so far
The word among Baseball scouts is you don't get excited about a hitter's good start, or concerned about a bad start, until that player has batted at least 100 times for the season.

One hundred at-bats usually encompasses 25 games of the schedule, enough time to get a good evaluation of a hitter early in the year.

Having a good start is no guarantee that a player will maintain that pace for the entire season. However, hitting the ball well early in the year is significant because it is understood within Baseball circles that the pitchers have the advantage during the first six weeks of the season.

History tells us once the hitters get their batting eye and the pitchers begin to tire, the hitters will begin to find their groove.

With the 100 at-bat bench mark in mind let's take a look at some of the top American League hitters who are off to promising starts in 2009.

Nick Markakis, Baltimore: A breakthrough season for the quiet Orioles right fielder (.353 avg).

Adam Jones, Baltimore: The centerpiece of last year's Erik Bedard trade with Seattle, this speedy, young outfielder is hitting .353 with a .415 on-base percentage.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston: After a terrific postseason in 2007, Ellsbury slumped in 2008. In '09, Ellsbury is hitting .294 with 15 stolen bases.

Mike Lowell, Boston: Injured during the end of last season, Lowell is back hitting with power (6 homers and 28 RBI).

Victor Martinez, Cleveland: Martinez is establishing himself as one of the most feared hitters in the league (.385 avg).

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit: Cabrera was born to hit a Baseball. If he stays in shape, he might challenge for the AL MVP (.389 avg. .455 on-base percentage).

Denard Span, Minnesota: His fast start has helped the Twins sort out their overloaded outfield situation (.305 avg.).

Robinson Cano, New York: Scouts say he will win a batting title one day. This might be the year (.315 avg., 5 home runs).

Johnny Damon, New York: Injuries have turned the former center fielder Damon into a left fielder. Loves to hit in the new Yankee Stadium (.319 avg., 8 home runs).

Kurt Suzuki, Oakland: Might be the A's all-star representative (.311 avg).

Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay: Stolen base leader (21-for-21) also has a .331 avg.

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay: Odds-on favorite to be 2009 AL MVP (.367 avg., 11 home runs, 44 RBI).

Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay: Shortstop a catalyst for the Rays (.351 avg.).

Aaron Hill, Toronto: Blue Jays second baseman is putting up Joe Morgan-type numbers in '09 (.351 avg., 8 home runs, 28 RBI).

Adam Lind, Toronto: Outfielder one of the reasons Blue Jays are leading the AL East (.336 avg., 6 home runs, 31 RBI).

Marco Scutaro, Toronto: Shortstop left Oakland after the 2007 season (still can't figure out why), and has solidified the Jays' infield (.273 avg., 31 runs scored).

Now let's look at the AL hitters who are giving their managers some sleepless nights.

David Ortiz, Boston: Big Papi has been unable to catch up with a good fastball so far in '09 (.221 avg., 0 home runs, 14 RBI).

Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox: Second-year player struggling in the cold weather (.204 average).

Grady Sizemore, Cleveland: The All-Star center fielder hitting .233 with 5 stolen bases in 10 attempts.

Jhonny Peralta, Cleveland: Indians are struggling as a team, Peralta isn't helping with the bat (.210 avg., 1 home run, 10 RBI).

Adrian Beltre, Seattle: Mariners are not scoring enough runs. Beltre is a big part of the problem (.226 avg., 1 home run, 14 RBI).

Pat Burrell, Tampa Bay: Brought in to give the Rays right-handed punch, Burrell has been a minus (.250 avg., 1 home run, 16 RBI).

Alex Rios, Toronto: Once considered by the Giants in a straight trade for Matt Cain, Rios hasn't hit this season with any authority (.248 avg., 2 home runs, 14 RBI).

Magglio Ordonez, Detroit: Ordonez might be traded in July by Detroit if his bat doesn't show signs of life (.225 avg., 2 home runs, 12 RBI).

Mike Aviles, Kansas City: The Royals lead the AL Central, but need production from this 2008 surprise hitter (.202 avg. in 99 at-bats).

Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels: Hasn't hit anywhere near the lofty predictions made for the Halos' second baseman (.255 avg., 2 walks, 24 strike outs).

Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: The boos are already filling the air in the new Yankee Stadium for the $180 million dollar first baseman (.196 avg.).

Orlando Cabrera, Oakland: Still a terrific fielder, Cabrera been a streaky hitter for the A's (.231 avg.).

Matt Holliday, Oakland: Tinkered with his stance in the off-season, now trying to find his stroke (.234 avg., 4 home runs, 20 RBI).

Hank Blalock, Texas: Still a power threat in Texas, Blalock's current .248 batting average, unfortunately, might be legitimate.

Curtis Granderson, Detroit: Power numbers (9 home runs) are deceiving. Tigers need the center fielder to get on base (.333 on-base percentage) and hit for a higher average than his current .256.

In the National League, these hitters are putting together solid starts over the first five weeks of the year.

Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta: Francoeur was so strikeout prone that he was sent to the minors in '08. Not this year. The outfielder is hitting .283 with 18 RBI, and only 12 strikeouts.

Ryan Theriot, Cubs: This shortstop surprised everyone last season by hitting over .300. The spark plug of the Cubs attack is stroking the ball at a .304 clip with three homers.

Joey Votto, Cincinnati: The heralded Votto showed he could play in the NL during his rookie campaign in 2008. Votto has excelled this season, hitting .370 with 10 doubles and 23 RBI.

Miguel Tejada, Houston: No one knew what to expect from Tejada this year after he pled guilty over the winter to lying to a Federal agent. Tejada is a Baseball player. The shortstop is one of the few bright spots for the Astros (.302 avg.).

Orlando Hudson, Dodgers: The second baseman was one of the last free agents to find a home this past off-season. Hudson is back from his injuries hitting .336 with 17 RBI, while sparkling in the field.

Andre Ethier, Dodgers: With Manny gone until July 3, Ethier needs to carry the load for the Dodgers. The right fielder has been terrific so far, hitting .297, with 6 home runs and 27 RBI.

Mike Cameron, Brewers: Almost traded to the Yankees over the winter, Cameron is making everyone in Milwaukee smile while hitting .291 with 6 home runs.

Carlos Beltran, Mets: If the Mets are going to win the NL East, Beltran will have to put up MVP numbers in '09. The right fielder is hitting .378 with 6 home runs and 22 RBI.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Ibanez has adjusted to NL ball and the short fences in Philadelphia. The left-handed swinging outfielder is hitting .339 with 9 home runs and 23 RBI.

Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh: The Pirates don't hit much, but Sanchez isn't the problem. The second baseman, coming back from a sub-par year in '08, is hitting .317 with 3 home runs.

Pablo Sandoval, Giants : This rookie has been living up to his hype at the plate. Sandoval is a force in the offensively challenged SF lineup (.298 avg., 2 home runs).

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington: One never knows the effect a large contract will have on a young player. No worries here for the new multi-millionaire third baseman. Zimmerman is a star (.336 avg., 6 home runs, 21 RBI). Zimmerman has also hit safely in 27 straight games.

Nick Johnson, Washington: This oft-injured first baseman can hit and field his position. Johnson, healthy in '09, is hitting .317 with 11 RBI.

Todd Helton, Rockies: Most thought his career was over after last season. Helton is hitting the ball like his early days in Coors once again (.337 17 RBI).

The following hitters will have to step up their production over the next month or face a long, uphill battle to finish with respectable numbers.

Chris Young, Arizona: Manager Bob Melvin was fired because of his team's inability to score runs in 2009. Young has 32 strikeouts to go along with a .183 average.

Conor Jackson, Arizona: Another reason for Melvin's demise, Jackson, a good hitter in '08, is batting .184 with one home run.

Derrek Lee, Cubs: Neck spasms have sidelined Lee. Before his current injury, the first baseman was struggling once again in '09 (.209 avg. with 20 strikeouts).

Garrett Atkins, Rockies: Often mentioned in trade talks, the third baseman is not going to get much attention unless he starts to hit the ball like he did in the past (.218 avg., 3 home runs).

Dan Uggla, Marlins: An All-Star in 2008, the second baseman is far from that form in '09. Uggla is hitting .194 with 26 strikeouts.

Lance Berkman, Astros: Berkman is one of the most feared hitters in the NL. The first baseman is hitting .184 with 27 strikeouts, especially poor numbers in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.

J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee: This on-field leader at shortstop for Milwaukee just rose above the Mendoza line (.216 avg., 5 home runs).

Jason Kendall, Milwaukee: Kendall is a great handler of pitchers, but still must hit closer to .250 to be an effective every day player (.233, 10 RBI in 98 at-bats).

Jose Reyes, Mets: Should be one of the best players in the NL if he maintains his focus. Needs to be the Mets' catalyst at the top of their batting order (.268 avg., 2 home runs, 12 RBI).

Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: The Phillies will eventually need his bat, even though home runs are plentiful in their bandbox ballpark (.203 avg., 1 home run, 9 RBI).

Brian Giles, Padres: The Padres don't score many runs in Petco Park. Giles is one reason why they are struggling in '09 (.151 avg., 1 home run, 14 RBI).

Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres: This third baseman plays a power-hitting position. It's not easy to hit in San Diego, but a .239 average with 1 home run and 8 RBI is not acceptable.

Randy Winn, Giants : Much was expected from this right fielder in 2009. Hasn't lived up to his preseason billing so far (.219 avg., 2 home runs, 10 RBI).

Edgar Renteria, Giants : A huge free-agent acquisition by the Giants , this shortstop has showed some signs of life lately, but is still hitting .255 with 2 home runs in 98 at-bats.

Check back after May, and let's see who's hot and who's still looking to find his batting groove.

I guarantee the list will change.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 11, 2009

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