Top 5 MLB surprises and Top 5 busts in 2009 so far

We’re approaching Memorial Day and are already about a quarter of the way through the baseball regular season. Some players historically take a while to get going, and some start off blazing hot and then cool off. Here we take a look at five pleasant surprises, and five busts through the first 40 or so games of the 2009 season.

Top 5 Suprises

1. Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City Royals—One of the reasons the Royals are off to a great start is that Greinke has found his rhythm, to the tune of 7-1 with a 0.82 ERA, as well as 73 strikeouts and 12 walks in just 66 innings. Greinke has given up a microscopic six earned runs so far. Six! It’s not like the kid wasn’t talented, but his career record before 2009 was 34-45 and his ERA 3.96.

2. Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays—Before this season, Bartlett was a career .285 hitter with 16 career home runs. So far this season, he’s off to a wicked start–.376 batting average, 6 homers, 23 RBI, 9 doubles, 12 stolen bases and an OPS of 1.004.

3. Raul Ibanez, OF, Philadelphia Phillies—This is looking like the free agent signing of the off-season. Or maybe coming over to the world champs from soggy Seattle was a good move. Ibanez was a respectable .288 hitter and was averaging 22 homers and 95 RBI, but so far in 2009 he’s hit 15 home runs and driven in 40 runs, while hitting .349 with 10 doubles, 4 stolen bases and a .724 slugging percentage. You think the Mets should have made a run at the guy instead of wasting all that money on P Ollie Perez?

4. Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays—It’s not like Hill didn’t have potential, but an injury de-railed him in 2008. Maybe he’s come back with a bionic bat, because he’s hitting .352 with 11 homers and 35 RBI. Before this season, Hill’s career high in home runs was 17, so at his current pace he will shatter that mark..

5. Shairon Martis, SP, Washington Nationals—Who? I mean, who? But here is this Nats’ pitcher with a blistering 5-0 record on a team that’s 12-28, worst record in the majors. If you’re keeping score at home, that means Martis has 42% of his team’s wins.

Honorable mention: Trevor Hoffman, RP, Milwaukee Brewers—Since coming off the DL to start the season, Hoffman is 11 for 11 in save opportunities in 12 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts for his new team.

Top 5 Busts

1. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox—Okay, so maybe he’s injured and all, but did anyone expect this? Ortiz is batting .211 with one home run and 18 batted in with a .324 slugging percentage. To put that in perspective, his career averages are 35 homers, 120 RBI, .285 average and .547 slugging percentage. Something is afoot at Fenway, dude.

2. Chien-Ming Wang, SP, New York Yankees—This is almost unfair because Wang is currently rehabbing an injury, but still. Wang had 38 wins in 2006 and 2007 combined, and this season got off to a rocky 0-3 start with an astronomical 34.50 ERA—giving up 23 hits and 23 earned runs in just six innings of work. Yikes.

3. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies—It’s a good thing the Phils picked up Ibanez, because their perennial MVP candidate is batting just .234 with 2 homers and 15 batted in with only 5 stolen bases and 1 triple. Rollins has never been a huge power guy, but he’s averaged .276 with 38 steals per season over the course of his career.

4. Cliff Lee, SP, Cleveland Indians—The reigning AL Cy Young was 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008. This year he’s off to a 2-5 start but his ERA is still a very respectable 2.90. You can blame this one on the Tribe’s inability to score runs like they normally do.

5. Brian Giles, OF, San Diego Padres—Sure, he’s getting long in the tooth, but Brian Giles is a lifetime .291 hitter who averages 25 homers and 95 batted in. In 2009, he’s off to a .161 start, with 2 homers and 15 RBI, and a paltry .235 slugging percentage.

Honorable mention: Jason Giambi, DH, Oakland Athletics—You’d think the change of scenery would energize Giambi, but he’s hitting just .208 with 3 home runs and 18 RBI so far.

Source: Baseball Reference

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