Derrek Lee and slow starts in April

It won't make any fans that are down on Derrek Lee feel any better, but Lee has had slow starts in April before. His start this April is worse than his start last April but better, in some stat categories, than his start in April 2009.

In 2009, by the way, he finished with an average of .306 and hit 35 homers with 111 RBIs and an OPS of .972. He finished ninth in the National League Most Valuable Player vote that year.

None of this means he will have a season like that this year, but it could mean a few hits, homers and some run production will soon be coming.

We know the fans are getting tired of waiting.

Here is how Lee fared the last three Aprils:

April 2009:  .189 avg    1 HR    10 RBIs    5 EBHs    .253 OBP    .284 Slugging    .537 OPS    14/7 K to BB ratio
April 2010:  .205 avg    4 HR    12 RBIs    5 EBHs    .327 OBP    .352 Slugging    .679 OPS    21/15 K to BB ratio
April 2011:  .211 avg    1 HR      2 RBIs    3 EBHs    .294 OBP    .276 Slugging    .570 OPS    17/9 K to BB ratio


Lee went 2-for-9 in the series versus New York. Over his last 11 games, he has just one extra-base hit and he does not have a single RBI over the past 15 games. He drove in a pair of runs April 6 against Detroit and that is his only game with an RBI on the season.

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In his career, Lee has hit better in the second half. His career OPS is .695 before the All-Star break and .888 after.

Will tonight be the night Buck Showalter drops Lee down in the order? How much longer can the team go with Lee batting third while much of the lineup is struggling at this point?

Lee has become a focal point for fan criticism because while the team struggles on offense, he bats in an important spot in the order and and the fans also know he is an older player coming off a year that was not his best.

There is reason to worry. There is also a track record there and it is early. Some fans say they are sick of hearing that, but it is true.

Lee has been very solid on defense at first and that is also true. If Buck gave him a day or two off over the next few weeks, I'd be fine with that, but I could also understand if he keeps sending him out there while he waits for the hits to come.

Yes, Lee is struggling now and maybe it's not too unusual for him, based on recent Aprils. The fans have heard a lot about his track record and now they want to see it for real.


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