Every year you see some unlikely guy break out to a fast start on the power of pitchers’ relative indifference and a lot of lucky guesses. Guys who anyone who watches this game even a little bit can tell you are going to crash to Earth, or at the very least return to being pedestrian, fairly soon. Just thinking about the Braves I remember Willie Harris fitting this description in 2007 and Michael Tucker doing it in 1997. Heck, I’d argue that Jeff Francoeur has been doing this in long form for four years.
But whoever they are, guys like that put up a couple of good weeks, even a couple of good months, and then slowly descend to their natural level, all the while getting penciled into the lineup a little more often than they probably should and becoming the subject of more media coverage than they probably deserve. In the course of that cycle, you can always count on their being one story like this one, written about Emilio Bonifacio, another player going through the same dynamic:
When he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning Sunday, Emilio Bonifacio had not reached base in his previous 19 plate appearances, watching his batting average plummet to .321 from .583 in eight days . . .
. . . Bonifacio said he has tried to remain upbeat despite his recent slump, in which he has only three hits in his past 25 at-bats. ”I don’t put my head down,” he said. “And we’ve been winning. If we weren’t, I’d start thinking about it more.”
It’s nice to see someone play above their heads for a while, and I truly am happy for them when they do, but just once I’d like to see an article about one of these guys headlined with something like “Ride fun while it lasted, Bonifacio says.” I just think it would make the whole exercise far less depressing if it were acknowledged that they player in question had experienced some good fortune rather than characterize harmless regression to the mean as a slump.