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Pujols, Lincecum headline bounce-back candidates
Question of the Day
A year ago at this time, Dan Uggla looked lost. The Atlanta second baseman was hitting well below .200 and had been nothing like the slugger the Braves had traded for during the offseason. Then in July, Uggla began swinging the bat better. In fact, he went on a 33-game hitting streak that lasted well into August, highlighting one of the season’s most stark turnarounds. By the end of the year, Uggla had a career-high 36 home runs.
A poor start doesn’t have to lead to a miserable season. Here are some candidates to bounce back before the end of 2012:
ALBERT PUJOLS, 1B, ANGELS
Pujols‘ numbers began to slip a bit last year, but his .243 average in his first season with Los Angeles has been a shocker. There’s no reason to think the 32-year-old’s swing has deserted him for good. He might not reach 32 homers, his previous low for a season, but Pujols is hitting .329 since May 12. The worst seems to be over.
TIM LINCECUM, RHP, GIANTS
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has an unsightly 5.82 ERA, but he’s struck out 64 hitters in 60 1-3 innings. Lincecum has struggled to avoid the big inning, and he’s walking too many hitters, but his performance isn’t as bad as it’s looked. Opponents are hitting .339 off Lincecum on balls in play. That’s a fairly high number, especially for someone who is a bit of a groundball pitcher. Lincecum should improve as more balls start finding the gloves of his fielders.
MARK REYNOLDS, 3B, ORIOLES
Reynolds is hitting .202 with only two home runs, but Baltimore fans have been through this before with the slugging third baseman. Last year Reynolds was hitting .193 at the end of May, but he finished the year with 37 homers. Low batting averages are the norm for Reynolds, but his power should be there now that’s he’s back from the rib cage injury that sent him to the disabled list earlier this month.
MARK TEIXEIRA, 1B, YANKEES
Usually a slow starter anyway, Teixeira has been playing through a terrible cough all season that’s sapped his strength and energy at times. In his last five games, Teixeira is 11 for 24 with four homers and nine RBIs. Just like that, the New York star is back on pace for another 30-homer season.
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