MLB's 10 worst hitters, and optimism

Leon Halip

It's still early, but it's not so early that most of the good hitters have stopped hitting poorly, and most of the poor hitters have stopped hitting well. Which doesn't mean that every hitter's statistics accurate reflect his skills. Even the hitters with the worst numbers still have time to turn things around, and some even have the skills.

Behold! This season's every-day players with the worst wOBA's (via FanGraphs before Thursday night's action):

.169 Jeff Keppinger
.223 B.J. Upton
.230 Danny Espinosa
.233 Aaron Hicks
.236 Ike Davis
.244 Greg Dobbs
.244 Brian Dozier
.245 Pedro Alvarez
.245 Miguel Montero
.248 Jeff Francoeur

Again, behold! Those same 10 players, ranked by the likelihood that they'll actually reverse course and hit significantly better than they've been hitting ...

1. B.J. Upton
He wins this one easily, if only because he's just begun serving out his new five-year, $75-million contract. The Braves just couldn't have been this wrong, could they?

2. Miguel Montero
In his first four seasons (2009-2012) as the Diamondbacks' regular catcher, Montero was arguably the best-hitting catcher in the National League. In the absence of some injury, there's just no reason to think that Montero's suddenly gone from being good to being terrible.

3. Danny Espinosa
First thing's first: Espinosa is not a good hitter. He entered this season with a 727 career OPS, which is good only for a middle infielder. Which, fortunately for his professional future, Espinosa is. At 727, he can play for as long as he likes. But this season he's well below that mark, and has drawn exactly three walks in 34 games. Right now, the best thing Espinosa's got going for him is that Junior Lombardozzi hasn't hit at all, either. Actually, what Espinosa's really got is a track record, and youth. There's every reason to think we've not seen his best, and what we've seen already was decent enough.

4. Ike Davis
He's never really been the same since suffering that season-ending foot injury in 2011, but on the other hand he was actually pretty decent last season. I'm not going to suggest that Davis will turn his season around tomorrow, and at this rate he's going to wind up in the minors for a spell. But I gotta think he's going to find his stroke eventually.

5. Pedro Alvarez
Almost exactly the same as Espinosa, except a) Alvarez plays third base, and b) while Espinosa has been uniformly decent before this season, Alvarez was good as a rookie in 2010, terrible in 2011, and good again in 2012.

6. Aaron Hicks
Even after hitting two homers (and saving another) the other night, Hicks' 2013 statistics remain unacceptable for an every-day outfielder. Still, he entered the season as a solid prospect, and the men who run the Twins ... well, okay, so they've made a few mistakes lately. But Hicks still profiles as a good major leaguer, if maybe not quite this soon. After all, he's never played a single inning of Class AAA ball.

7. Jeff Keppinger
Thursday night was a big night for Keppinger. In his 141st plate appearance this season, Keppinger drew a walk. Not just a walk. His first walk of the entire season. It was starting to become a thing. When your batting average is higher than your on-base percentage, it's a thing. Well, it's a thing no more; Keppinger's on-base percentage is now three points higher than his batting average. Both of which are still putrid but, you know ... baby steps. Keppinger's been a decent hitter before, and probably will be a decent hitter again.

8. Jeff Francoeur
Hey, nobody's been more skeptical about Frenchy than I. And it's going to be difficult for him to get out of this hole, considering he's actually lost his every-day job (unless Jarrod Dyson's ankle injury is serious). But as poorly as Francoeur's hit this season, and as poorly as he hit last season, he did perform well in 2011 and there might still be some ability there. Probably not. But hey, a guy can dream a little.

9. Greg Dobbs
Greg Dobbs was never really supposed to be an every-day player. In his long career, Dobbs has only 205 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, and he's hit exactly zero home runs in those 205 plate appearances. But he's playing for the Marlins this season and the Marlins are just a little short on talent, so Greg Dobbs is playing almost every day, even against lefties. He's been terrible against the lefties, and pretty terrible against the righties, too. Dobbs will improve, but only because eventually they'll stop letting him play every day.

10. Brian Dozier
At this point, it's real hard to figure why Dozier's still in the majors. I mean, leaving aside the fact that the Twins are obviously real desperate. Dozier's now got 466 major-league plate appearances, and he's batting .230/.267/.323 ... and his 48 Triple-A games went almost as badly. Essentially, Dozier's in the majors because he played well in Class A and AA ... when he was 24. He might yet surprise us. But he probably won't.

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