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Chris Shelton, Now With 95 Percent Less Media Hype

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Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee, Jason Bay, Jermaine Dye, Troy Glaus, Lance Berkman, Carlos Delgado, Morgan Ensberg, Jason Giambi, David Ortiz, Carlos Beltran, Jonny Gomes, Travis Hafner, Nick Swisher, Pat Burrell, Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Vladimir Guerrero, Bill Hall, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Justin Morneau, Eric Chavez, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Holliday, Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Rodriguez, and Ty Wigginton. That's the list of players that have at least 13 home runs this season. Chris Shelton has 12.

Remember Shelton? The plucky, pudgy first baseman who, two weeks into the season, led the majors in home runs with nine? The man who boasted a .700 batting average through five games? The first American League player to hit nine homers in the season's first 13 games?

Oh, that Chris Shelton.

Chris Shelton, Tigers 1BWe were all skeptical when Shelton told everybody his power surge was a result of just trying to put the ball in play. After all, the Utah native held a .471 batting average through 13 games.

The hype was so big, ESPN.com conducted one of their famous scientific polls. They asked the nation how many home runs Shelton would have for the season. Fourteen percent of respondents — out of over 100,000 — said he would break the major league record of 73. The bulk of those surveyed, 46 percent, played it safe with the 30-39 range.

Since making nine-homers-in-13-games history in mid-April (almost two months ago), Shelton has a grand total of three home runs. Stuck on 12, Shelton is projected to hit 31 homers by season's end.

That's not to say the man's game has completely fell apart. His batting average is still .290, so he's better than you. Not everyone can keep up with a Pujolsian pace. But he's not just a former major league leader, he's already on page two of the leaderboard:

• Tied for 36th in the majors

• Tied for 21st in the American League
• Tied for eighth among first baseman
• Tied for third on his own team
• Second among players whose last name end in "-ton"

Also with 12 on the Tigers is Marcus Thames, who has 95 fewer at-bats.

We may never know where the surge of ten homers in April came from, but I'm sure Shelton's sudden power outage wasn't just him trying to stress his point that he's a contact hitter.

Plus, it's not like the Tigers exactly fell apart after Shelton's home runs stopped. In fact, maybe he helped them. Through the aforementioned 13 games Tiger Force went 7-6. Since then they're 33-16 and atop a deep AL Central division.

Still, it's too bad that we (likely) won't witness Shelton shock the world and hit 50 this year. But Christ, if you would have bet me that Tampa Bay infielder Ty Wigginton (four home runs in his first 13 games) could hit more over the wall than Chris Shelton, I would have probably taken that bet. And I might have to sell my car.

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  • marty granato

    chris will hit his share of hrs just remember this is his first season in the bigs what about the guys defence?????? the pirates let him go becuse of his defence skills??? whats that all about???
    littlefield you suck!!!!

  • steve smith

    Interesting that ESPN.com has Shelton as best
    fielding 1b in MLB by wide margin (ZR ratings)
    as of 9/1/06. Of course 1b’s have to HIT! Still he has to be at least as good as Sean Casey!