DENVER -- The Rockies' Brad Hawpe entered Tuesday night's game against the Giants with a .236 average, hitless in nine at-bats and in a 5-for-32 slump over a 10-day period.
Hawpe's thump from the sixth spot in the order is one of the reasons the Rockies are considered one of the most dangerous offensive teams in baseball, but he entered Tuesday with just three home runs and 16 RBIs. He's one of the areas of concern when Rockies fans discuss their club.
But hasn't everyone seen this act before? Like, last season?
Hawpe hit just one home run through May 15 and was batting an unspectacular .271 as of May 18. But he hit 14 homers from May 16 to July 8, and finished the year with a .291 average, 29 home runs and 116 RBIs. He had a similar pattern of struggle followed by hot streak in 2006, when he hit .293 with 22 homers and 84 RBIs.
Unscientifically speaking, Hawpe, 28, receives the most criticism of any of the big hitters in the lineup when he struggles. There have even been calls from talk radio to remove him from the lineup. Part of it is a tendency to strike out -- he had a team-high 33 K's -- and part of it is because reserve Ryan Spilborghs (.293) produces when given spot-starts.
But last September, after a slump in August, Hawpe hit .316 with four home runs and 26 RBIs, and was a key factor in the Rockies making the playoffs.
"That's just the way it is -- it's part of sports and part of baseball, to be critiqued," Hawpe said. "It's what athletes live with and that's fine. If you can't deal with it and can't live with it, you don't need to be playing. You know [it's going to turn around]. And if you don't know, you go and watch the video.
"Watch yourself hit off some of the greatest pitchers in the game and see a home run or see a double or see a game-winning hit. You say, 'That's me.' Just because you're scuffling today doesn't mean that you're not Brad Hawpe or Matt Holliday or Garrett Atkins. It just means that you're struggling right now."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.