When April rolls around we often hear things like "this guy is a fast starter" or "this guy takes a while to warm up." As we are now 48 days away from Opening Day, here are the hitting tendencies in April for the Rays projected starting 9(10 actually).
Jason Bartlett isn't really a good hitter overall, but in April he is even worse. Carlos Pena is also a "slow starter" with just an awful .210/.305/.410 line. Carl Crawford can also be thrown into this group with a career April OPS of .717
Gabe Gross and Aki Iwamura are pretty neutral and their OPS's are pretty much within line of what you'd expect. Gross maybe a little higher and Iwamura a little lower, but pretty close. Dioner Navarro does a good job of getting on base, but his SLG% is lower than normal. An OPS over .700 is pretty much what we need from Navarro.
Much has been made of Pat Burrell's slumps, but that is not the case in April. As the season goes on Burrell's OPS dips a little in the summer months, but that is when Carlos Pena heats up. Hopefully they can balance out each others peaks and valleys. We still don't know how much B.J. Upton will play early on, although reports now say he may be ready opening day. We do know he likes hitting in April and he leads all Rays hitters with an OPS of .889 in the opening month. *Small Sample Size Alert* Evan Longoria hit .273/.388/.527 in his first 55 April AB's. It will be interesting to see if Longoria gets off to the same start in 2009.
On paper, the Rays should have a good balance of hot and cold. Pena and Crawford tend to struggle, but Upton and Burrell have shown the ability to hit right from the top. Longoria could sway the scale in either direction, but we just don't have enough data to say which way he truly trends. It will be interesting to see if these hitter's trends continue to hold true in 2009.