Regardless of what a player’s final numbers are at the end of the year, he didn’t accumulate them by putting up the same production each month of the season. All players have streaks, stretches where the hits fall in as well as periods where they simply can’t buy a hit. But even knowing that, we still find players whose final numbers are propped up by a stretch that was completely out of whack with what they did previously or subsequently.
In rough terms, these unusual streaks comprise six weeks or 30 games or 120 PA. Now, maybe it’s 37 games or maybe it’s 98 PA. But this is the general ballpark and there are enough examples of it in the recent past. This list is not exhaustive; it’s merely the players that jumped immediately to mind. Here are a dozen players in the past decade who fit the six-week pattern:
2010 Rod Barajas – From April 5 to May 20, a stretch of 33 games and 124 PA, Barajas put up a .276/.306/.586 line. For the remainder of the season, he had a .637 OPS. In 2009, he had a .661 OPS and in 2011 it was a .717 mark. But Mets fans will always remember that glorious streak he had to start his only year with the club.
2012 Kirk Nieuwenhuis – There’s nothing better than for a young guy to come up and hit right away and that’s exactly what Nieuwenhuis did. From April 7 to May 11, a stretch of 31 games and 119 PA, he posted a .308/.381/.442 line. For the remainder of the season, he had a .612 OPS. The following year he had a .615 OPS. There would be a couple of other six-week stretches in his career, which allowed him to play in the majors for parts of six seasons, despite his tendency to strike out nearly one-third of the time he came to the plate.
2013 Juan Lagares – While he did not enjoy immediate success in the majors, Lagares did have his streak fairly early in his rookie campaign. From June 18 to August 1, a stretch of 35 games and 121 PA, Lagares posted a .333/.375/.505 line. In his first 32 games that year, he had a .507 OPS and in his final 54 games, he notched a .545 OPS. The next season was his high-water offensive season with a .703 OPS. The next three years saw marks of .647, .682 and .661, respectively.
2013 John Buck – An All-Star in 2010, Buck had put up a .683 OPS in 2011 and a .644 mark in 2012 before joining the Mets. But he took a page from the Barajas book, getting off to an incredible start. From April 1 to May 3, a stretch of 25 games and 102 PA, Buck had a .263/.294/.611 line, thanks to 10 HR in 95 ABs. In his final 305 PA with the Mets, he managed just a .564 OPS. In nine games with the Pirates at the end of ’13, he had a .667 OPS and the next year, his final one in the majors, he had a .570 OPS split between two clubs.
2013 Josh Satin – After cups of coffee with the Mets in 2011 and 2012, Satin got a mid-season call and hit right away. From June 18 to July 22, a stretch of 23 games and 82 PA, he had a .364/.488/.545 line. The rest of the year, Satin had a .655 OPS. It was enough for him to make the club out of Spring Training the following season but he had a dreadful go of it, managing just three hits in 43 trips to the plate before he was sent out. And he never returned to the majors.
2014 Eric Campbell – When the Mets sent down Satin in the second week in May, he was replaced by Campbell. From May 11 to July 12, a span of 40 games and 107 PA, he recorded a .347/.393/.459 line. For the rest of the season he had a .508 OPS. He played parts of two more seasons with the Mets, with a .607 OPS in 2015 and a .511 mark in 2016.
2014 Matt den Dekker – A cup of coffee in 2013 saw den Dekker put up a .546 OPS in 63 PA. He got a mid-year promotion in 2014 but was sent back to the minors after a .424 mark in 49 trips to the plate. But when he returned on August 10 until the end of the season, a stretch of 36 games and 125 PA, den Dekker had a .290/.392/.374 line. He was traded right before the start of the 2015 season and in 178 PA since, he’s managed just a .652 OPS over the following four seasons. In his hot streak, he traded power for OBP. Since then, his OBP has been just .278 albeit with a .170 ISO.
2015 Travis d’Arnaud – In his first 533 PA in the majors, d’Arnaud put up a .683 OPS over the 2013-14 campaigns. He got off to a good start in 2015, although it was severely limited thanks to two different trips to the DL. But from August 3 to September 15, a span of 32 games and 133 PA, d’Arnaud put up a .319/.398/.612 line. The final two weeks of the season saw a .376 OPS and the following three years – all derailed by injuries – he’s combined for a .690 OPS over 668 PA.
2016 James Loney – An early injury to their starting first baseman put the Mets on the lookout for a replacement. Campbell was given a shot but didn’t do anything with it. So the Mets turned to Loney, who was languishing in Triple-A with another club. A one-time solid player who hit for a good average and was a plus fielder, Loney had been in decline. He had a .778 OPS in 2013, a .716 mark in 2014 and a .680 mark in 2015, which prompted the low-budget Rays to release him despite being the second-highest paid guy on the team. The Padres gave him a chance but a .797 OPS in the Pacific Coast League was no one’s idea of a guy earning another shot in the majors. His first 15 games with the Mets, Loney had a .629 OPS – pretty much what was expected. But from June 17 to August 1, a span of 38 games and 148 PA, Loney had a .299/.358/.493 line. Then from August 2 to the end of the year, he managed just a .598 OPS over 155 PA. And that was his last season in the majors.
2018 Adrian Gonzalez – Having had such great luck with Loney, the Mets turned to another ex-Dodger in decline in Gonzalez. From 2015-2017, Gonzalez’ OPS marks went from .830 to .784 to .642, the latter in an injury-plagued season. Gonzalez started the year with a two-hit game and through May 7, a stretch of 26 games and 94 PA, he had a .256/.330/.463 mark. But in his final 93 PA, Gonzalez posted a .556 OPS before being released. He did not sign with another club, although allegedly he turned down opportunities and now hopes to play again in 2019.
2018 Jose Bautista – Like Gonzalez, Bautista had been in decline the past few years. His 2015-17 OPS marks were: .913, .817 and .674 in his final season with the Blue Jays. He hooked on with the Braves, who wanted him to go back to the infield and play 3B. But Atlanta gave up on him after 40 PA and a .593 OPS. The Mets picked him up and from May 22 to June 30, a stretch of 35 games and 105 PA, he put up a .266/.438/.506 line. But in the rest of his tenure with the Mets, Bautista had a .606 OPS in 197 PA. He bounced back with an .870 OPS in 57 PA with the Phillies and allegedly wants to return to the majors next season.
2018 Austin Jackson – This is a career that has been all over the map, both literally and figuratively. Drafted by the Yankees, traded to the Tigers and he also spent time in the majors with the Mariners, White Sox, Indians and Giants before joining the Mets during the 2018 season. He was lousy in 2015-16, putting up a .687 OPS over those two seasons. A bounceback year in Cleveland got him a two-year contract with San Francisco. But Jackson put up a .604 OPS in 165 PA with the Giants before they cut bait on him. The Mets picked him up and from July 29 to August 29, a span of 31 games and 124 PA, he put up a .322/.371/.443 line. But in his final 85 PA, Jackson managed just a .396 OPS as he had a whopping 44.7 K% down the stretch. He better hope September stats are meaningless.
Anyone who reaches the majors has incredible talent. It shouldn’t be a shock that they can be red-hot for a six-week stretch. The key is not to be fooled about a hot streak that lasts this long, especially when the performance that surrounds it is not particularly good. Of course that’s easier said than done. And sometimes these hot stretches are the springboard to better things. That’s what we’re hoping for with Amed Rosario, who came up with such a good reputation but who in his rookie season in 2017 notched a .665 OPS and his first 383 PA in 2018 saw a .619 mark. But from August 10 to September 14, a span of 32 games and 142 PA, he had a .333/.366/.526 line. The final two weeks of the season, Rosario had a .538 OPS.