There's no worse feeling in sports than a deep, dark slump in the batter's box. With MLB games being played almost every day, once you start struggling, it feels like there's no place to hide. One bad game can turn into five almost instantly and before long, fans are calling for you to be benched, traded or sent on a rocket to Mars.

All slumps are rough, but early-season slumps might just be the worst. You look up at the scoreboard and feel sharp pain at the sight of your batting average. It's been so long since you had a hot stretch, you hardly remember what it feels like anymore. It's not hard for that early-season slump to tank the rest of the year, at least from a statistical perspective.

But have no fear, because the slump doctor is here. Today we'll take a look at five of Major League Baseball's coldest hitters and find some solutions to their woes. When these five start hitting soon, we'll gladly accept a check from their organizations for our troubles.

Nick Castellanos, Phillies

Here's a truly remarkable stat for you: Of all 187 qualified hitters across MLB, only one has yet to get an extra-base hit this season. Obviously, that one man is the Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos, or his name wouldn't be bolded right above this paragraph.

Watching the Phillies play, it's obvious that Castellanos is struggling mightily with his timing, particularly on off-speed pitches. He's whiffing on 37.5% of breaking pitches and a staggering 55.0% of other off-speeds, namely change-ups and splitters. He looks jumpy and unsure of himself at the plate and pitchers are exploiting him by feeding him a steady diet of slow stuff and pitches out of the zone.

And Castellanos isn't just whiffing more, but he's hitting double the number of pop-ups that he did in 2024 and has the highest weak contact rate of his career. So here's the fix: just be more selective. Sit on the off-speed stuff, stay in the zone early in counts and stop trying to fix it all with one home run. Castellanos has proven that he can get hot enough to carry this offense for a couple of weeks, so as long as the process is right, he needs to trust that the results will follow.

Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals first base Paul Goldschmidt (46) reacts after missing a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh inning at Chase Field
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Less than two years removed from winning the 2022 National League MVP Award, Paul Goldschmidt is scuffling like never before in his storied career. With just 12 hits in 18 games and a putrid 48 OPS+, it's starting to become a legitimate concern that the 36-year-old future Hall of Fame candidate might be entering an irreversible decline.

Gleaning Goldschmidt's Baseball Savant page, the top thing that sticks out is the slugger's increasing struggles against the slider. He had a wOBA of .394 against that pitch in his MVP year, which dropped to .319 in 2023 and is now a stunning .064 to begin 2024. He's also pulling the ball more than ever before, while boasting by far the lowest barrel and solid contact rates of his 14-year MLB career.

All this suggests Goldschmidt needs to get back to the basics. Utilizing a middle-of-the-field approach, keying in on the slider early in counts and focusing simply on squaring the ball up will be the keys for the seven-time All-Star to prove he's still got something left in the tank. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, it would help his cause immensely if that hot stretch arrived sooner rather than later.

Xander Bogaerts, Padres

This was the last thing San Diego Padres fans were hoping to see in just the second year of Xander Bogaerts‘ 11-year, $270 million contract. Not only has he been moved away from the shortstop position in favor of Ha Seong Kim's superior defense, but he's struggling to hit the broad side of a barn thus far in 2024.

The interesting thing about Bogaerts' struggles is that he's still commanding the strike zone well. He's in the 90th percentile in chase rate and the 91st in whiff rate. But he's making the weakest contact of his career, with over a 50% ground ball rate for the first time since 2015.

So while Bogaerts is already doing a decent job with pitch selection, he needs to start hitting the ball harder and in the air far more frequently. The age-old adage is that a ballplayer trying to hit a home run will never succeed, but many of the best sluggers nowadays will tell you they're frequently stepping into the box trying to elevate the ball. Bogaerts may just need a couple of long balls to get momentum moving in the right direction.

Spencer Torkelson, Tigers

Coming off an impressive second half to his age-23 season, which he finished with 31 home runs, Spencer Torkelson looked to be well on the way to fulfilling the expectations that came along with his first-overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft. But of all the 26 players with at least 30 home runs in the 2023 season, only Torkelson has yet to leave the yard in 2024.

Last season, though his batting average against breaking pitches was similar to this year, Torkelson did a much better job hitting sliders and curves in the air. His average launch angle against those pitches was 26 degrees, which has dropped to 21 this year. And he slugged .431 against those breakers in 2023, but is sitting at .276 in 2024.

That suggests the best medicine for Torkelson, like it is for many a struggling hitter, is patience. See the ball longer out of the hand, drive the ball to all fields and don't swing at pitcher's pitches early in counts. There's still plenty of time left for Tork Bombs in 2024, but he needs to start driving the ball in the air before the Detroit Tigers and their fans start losing patience.

Yandy Díaz, Rays

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz (2) hits a RBI single during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field.
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Yandy Díaz was one of the individual feel-good stories of 2023, winning the American League batting title and finishing sixth in MVP voting as a 31-year-old with no previous MLB All-Star appearances. Though nothing about the underlying metrics of last season suggested what Díaz did was a fluke, however, the early returns on Díaz's quest to prove it wasn't a one-year wonder aren't looking positive.

Díaz's calling card the past two MLB seasons was consistent hard contact, which he translated into more extra-base power in 2023 than ever before. This season, that hard contact has fallen off a cliff. He's dropped from a 9.5% barrel rate to just 2.9%, while reaching base at a lower clip and even chasing balls out of the zone more often.

Shockingly enough, it's the fastball that has been the biggest difference for Díaz in his slump of late. He carried an excellent .404 wOBA against heaters in 2023 and that's fallen to .213 this year. He's seen the pitch at about a 60% clip across both seasons, so if he starts keying in on the fastball and finding the sweet spot with more consistency, he can rebound to the All-Star the Tampa Bay Rays need him to be for the remainder of the young season.