The Readers Have Spoken: Five More Players Who Have Been Scorching Hot
As you might know, we’re all about the readers here at JoeBlogs. On Tuesday, I listed off five players who have been scorching hot since July 1. I didn’t say they were the MOST scorching hot players, they were just five I picked. And I received a bunch of emails from people asking “Wait, what about Player X? Why did you just ignore Player X? What did Player X ever do to you?”
First off, Player X knows what he did.
Secondly, your wish is my command. Here are a few other players who have been scorching hot, as sent in by readers, and a few thoughts about them:
Bobby Witt Jr., Royals
On July 1: .244/.288/.415 with 12 homers and 23 steals.
Now: .278/.317/.499 with 25 homers and 37 steals.
When I was writing about the Kansas City Royals daily in the terrible 2000s, I had this philosophy that what the Royals could not afford was a wasted season. There was no question about the Royals actually WINNING anything — they had a losing record every year but one in the decade, and lost at least 97 games six times. There was a lot of depressing stuff happening.
But the most depressing kinds of seasons were those in which the team made no tangible progress at all. I think specifically about the back-to-back-to-back 100-loss seasons (top that, Tom Emanski!) of 2004-2006. Those were all abysmal teams, but the seasons felt a little bit different.
In 2004, the Royals came in with some expectations after finishing over .500 and collapsed instead. They lost 104 games. BUT they did call up phenom pitcher Zack Greinke (who was often quite good) and rookie outfielder David DeJesus showed some promise, and young first baseman Ken Harvey hit well enough to be named an All-Star*, and they drafted a promising young high school hitter named Billy Butler, and you just kind of thought: Hey, this is bad, but maybe there’s something to build on.
*There’s an Immaculate Grid ringer for you!
That felt like a terrible season … but not a wasted one.
However, 2005 felt wasted. Yes, they lost only two more games in 2004, but it felt different. Greinke went an astonishing 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA and looked utterly lost. In fact, he WAS utterly lost, and he would briefly quit baseball after the season. Jose Lima had maybe the worst pitching year in baseball history (5-16 with a 6.99 ERA), the team leader in both RBIs and runs was a 30-year-old outfielder who had been out of baseball named Emil Brown. They did draft Alex Gordon, which felt somewhat exciting, but the overall vibe was: Nothing good is happening here.
Then, 2006 was maybe the most wasted of all — Greinke basically missed the whole season trying to figure himself out, 32-year-old Mark Redman was both terrible AND the Royals’ All-Star, Emil Brown AGAIN led the team in RBIs (though 36-year-old Mark Grudzielanek led the team in runs), the Royals fired general manager Allard Baird RIGHT before the draft, so they really didn’t have anyone in charge when they had the first pick — and they made one of the worst first picks in baseball history when they took Luke Hochevar over, among others, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Tim Lincecum and Evan Longoria.
The point is: Losing seasons are not created alike.