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Updated: May 6, 2010, 1:27 AM ET

Despite slow starts, hope still reigns for some

Olney By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Ten players who are holding their teams back. (So far. And it's reasonable to expect that they will rebound.)

1. Grady Sizemore, Indians. The expectation among rival scouts was that Cleveland would have a good offense this season, but the Indians went into Wednesday's game ranked 27th among 30 teams in runs scored. And Sizemore, who needs to be an anchor for this team, is a major part of the problem -- he's hitting .221 and still is without his first homer of the season, despite having had four seasons of 22 or more homers.

2. Carlos Lee, Astros. Because Houston has such expensive commitments with Lee, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, the Astros didn't invest in a lot of other players before this season. In order to be successful, then, the Astros need big production out of this big trio -- and Lee has gotten off to an abysmal start, despite rededicating himself in his conditioning during the offseason. Incredibly, Lee -- a slugger with 307 career homers -- didn't get his first homer of the year until Wednesday night.

3. Juan Pierre, White Sox. Perhaps Chicago's expectations for Pierre were too high, but he essentially was brought in by the White Sox, in a deal with the Dodgers, to be the catalyst for Ozzie Guillen's go-go offense. But Pierre hasn't been hitting, the White Sox haven't been scoring, and the team is quickly sinking in the AL Central standings.

4. Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks. The blueprint that the Arizona front office put together was based on what it thought would be a strong rotation. But Brandon Webb has been hurt, and Jackson -- who now needs to be the Diamondbacks' No. 2 starter -- has been a disaster thus far, posting an 8.07 ERA. Arizona almost certainly cannot succeed unless he turns around his season.

5. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. No young player should have the kind of pressure that rests on the shoulders of Kershaw, but given the current makeup of the Dodgers' rotation, it's hard to imagine how they can contend in the NL West unless Kershaw is more consistent. He hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in four of his six starts, and has a 4.99 ERA.

6. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox. Boston signed him for his defense, and undoubtedly, he has been regarded as the game's best glove at third base -- and he simply hasn't been as effective as the Red Sox have expected. As of Wednesday afternoon, Beltre has more errors than any other player at his position.

7. Chipper Jones, Braves. He has gotten on base a lot, posting a .385 clip, but given the construction of the Atlanta lineup, the Braves need him to do more damage with his swings. He's hitting .222, with a career-low .375 slugging percentage.

8. Casey Kotchman, Mariners. Seattle made a deal for the first baseman because he fit Seattle's philosophy in so many ways, with strong defense -- and for Kotchman, this is a clean slate with a new team that needs him to produce. So far, it hasn't happened -- Kotchman, like a lot of Mariners, has struggled, hitting .218 with a .728 OPS.

9. The left side of the Angels' infield. In the team's first year since the departure of Chone Figgins, the Angels have needed Erick Aybar to step up and become a threat at the top of the order -- and so far, Aybar has posted a .325 on-base percentage. And in Brandon Wood's first extensive opportunity to establish himself at third base, he has not fared well, hitting .179 with 24 strikeouts in 78 at-bats.

10. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. He is among the highest-paid Cubs, and he currently stands dead last among all NL hitters in batting average, at .149.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and an analyst for "Baseball Tonight." Read his daily blog here.

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