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The term to describe the state which lies approximately halfway between normal performance and a slump is: a Lull.
Barry Zito is in a lull. The good news is that he thinks he knows why he is in a lull: a mechanical problem. The mechanical problem would explain why he got clobbered by Texas last Wednesday, and why he was throwing 84mph fastballs last night, one of which was crushed for a two-run homer by Ben Broussard.
Fortunately for Mr. Zito, he's is just about the only player on the team who is currently in a lull or slump. The rest of the team is firing on all cylinders, and the A's now have the second-largest division lead in baseball at 5 1/2 games. But never mind that: the A's have a good thing going, and we don't want to jinx it by talking about it too much. Back to slumps.
We definitely could use some more precision when talking about slumps. If Eskimos can have N words for snow, why can't we have some more words to describe slumps? This would be especially useful for fantasy baseball players, because you'd want to drop a player if he's in one kind of slump, but keep him if he's in another. So I'm going to make up some more terms.
So when you want to know why Jorge Posada just went 0-for-25, you could answer, "Oh, I think he's in a...":
This is a purely statistical slump. There's nothing wrong with you physically or mentally, you're just running into a stretch of bad luck that falls within a normal, Gaussian distribution of hits and outs.
If you're player is in a Gauss, you keep him.
Like the Gauss, the player in a Byrnes is physically and mentally fine. But in this case, the Powers That Be uphold the It-All-Evens-Out Principle, by making sure an extreme, prolonged hot streak is followed by an extreme, prolonged cold streak, both of which go beyond normal distributions. Named after Eric Byrnes' 2003 season. In 2003, Byrnes had an OPS of 1.073 in May and .978 in June, which he followed with an OPS of .328 in July, and .533 in August.
If your player is in a Byrnes, you might seriously consider dropping him.
Named after the guy who carried my 2006 fantasy team for one month, and then killed it for two, before we finally found out he had been playing with a bum shoulder since early May. It's a slump caused by an undisclosed injury.
This one may soon be renamed the ARod. In either case, Gomes or ARod, these things are murder to your fantasy team.
This is a slump caused by a fully disclosed injury. Named after Eric Chavez, who hasn't hit a lick in 2006 since injuring his forearms, but who plays anyway because his defense is unaffected by the injury. In other words, there's not much excuse for keeping him from your non-keeper fantasy team.
This is a slump caused by an identified mechanical problem. Similar to the lull, except that the player cannot correct the mechanical problem, and continues to make the same mistake. Named after Damian Miller, who, in his one year at Wrigley Field, got into a bad habit of trying to pull everything for home runs, and had the worst hitting season of his career. Miller understood exactly what he was doing wrong, but couldn't get his muscle memory to change, and stop making the mistake.
Bobby Crosby gets hurt a lot, but even when he's healthy, he doesn't hit nearly as well as he should by looking at him and his talent. You're in a Crosby when you're healthy, there's something mechanically wrong with your swing, and you can't identify what it is.
This is a slump caused by a psychological block of some sort. Named after Steve Blass.
I'm sure y'all can come up with more/better terms that these. So fire away...
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