This year, an interesting pattern is developing among players who rebounded to have solid second halves last season. In short, there has been no carryover.
Most of the players who had poor starts and strong finishes last year have dropped off considerably in this season's first five weeks. (The Cubs' Shawon Dunston and San Diego's Roberto Alomar are exceptions.)
Here is a look at the active players who showed the most improvement in the second half last year, and their averages in the first half of 1989, the second half of 1989 and this season, entering Friday's action:
Chris James, Indians .201 .282 .138
Oddibe McDowell, Braves .216 .307 .213
Mookie Wilson, Blue Jays .206 .283 .224
George Brett, Royals .231 .309 .229
Dickie Thon, PHILLIES .227 .307 .228
Jose Oquendo, Cardinals .252 .326 .239
John Kruk, PHILLIES .253 .338 .287
Shawon Dunston, Cubs .225 .313 .296
Roberto Alomar, Padres .256 .337 .358
What do the statistics show?
They hint that some players had strong finishes last year because of salary drives, or, in some cases, because they were rejuvenated after being traded. Or maybe the slow starters simply weren't as effective until the weather was warmer. That may explain why they have not gotten off to blazing starts this year.
Conversely, the Phillies' Len Dykstra and Houston's Bill Doran are among the players who have made dramatic 1990 turnarounds after horrendous second halves in 1989.
Dykstra has raised his average 175 points over that of the second half, and Doran has increased his second-half average by 125 points.
Here is a look at some of the players who had strong first halves and weak second halves, and their averages in the first half of 1989, the second half of 1989 and this season, entering Friday's action:
Len Dykstra, PHILLIES .281 .210 .385
Junior Felix, Blue Jays .297 .218 .292
Rafael Palmeiro, Rangers .315 .230 .284
Jim Presley, Braves .275 .190 .293
Bill Doran, Houston .272 .141 .266
Terry Steinbach, Athletics .313 .229 .205
Robby Thompson, Giants .275 .205 .200
Because Darnell Coles was having fielding problems, the Seattle Mariners recently placed Edgar Martinez at third base.
It's a good thing Martinez is hitting above .300. He made a combined total of five errors in two games last week.
Before his team's stunningly poor start, Kansas City manager John Wathan said it would take 100 victories to win in the American League West.
At one point, Kansas City was 6-16, which meant it had to compile an almost impossible 94-46 record - a winning percentage of .671 - to finish with 100 triumphs.
Phillies reliever Don Carman says that his new role "is becoming fun," but that he still wants to get back into a starting rotation.
The Red Sox, Giants and Orioles desperately need starters. Although the Phillies are not as eager to trade Carman as they were in spring training, the lefthander may eventually fit in with one of those teams, particularly if none signs Mike Flanagan, who was released by Toronto last week.
Boston is showing lots of interest in Flanagan, who is expected to clear waivers tomorrow.
Cincinnati manager Lou Piniella has been jokingly referring to his 40-year- old outfielder, Ken Griffey Sr., as "the wrong Griffey."
The right one, of course, plays in Seattle - and is 20 years younger.
Baltimore reliever Gregg Olson quietly put together a 41-inning scoreless streak that ended at California last week. The string covered 29 outings since July 31, 1989.
According to the Orioles and the Elias Sports Bureau, Olson's streak was the 13th-longest in major-league history - and the longest in which every inning was in relief. The longest scoreless streak is 59 innings, by the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1988.
During his streak, Olson was 3-0 and had 16 saves in 18 opportunities. Opponents were just 19 for 138 against him, an average of .138, and had four extra-base hits, all doubles. Of the 22 runners he inherited, only three scored.
The streak was the longest in the American League since 1968, when Cleveland's Luis Tiant also pitched 41 straight shutout innings.
Numbers Dept.: Boston's Tony Pena was hitting .316 entering Friday's action, but, because he drew just three walks, his on-base percentage was only .337. Todd Zeile, who replaced Pena as St. Louis' catcher this year, was hitting only .244, but, thanks to 13 walks, his on-base percentage was .333.
However, Pena had thrown out 12 of 27 base stealers, or 44.4 percent. Zeile had thrown out seven of 24, or 29.2 percent.
Detroit pitcher Jack Morris, who will turn 35 on Wednesday, seems to have lost his effectiveness.
Morris, who has won 162 games in the 1980s, more than any other major- league pitcher, had a 2-4 record and a 5.96 ERA in his first seven starts this year.
Last season, Morris was disabled for two months with a fracture of his right elbow. Since then, he is 6-11.
An airline, while promoting its special $39 "Fast Pitch to Cleveland" service, announced that it was holding a drawing for World Series tickets and round-trip air fare to this year's fall classic.
There was one catch: The free World Series package is valid only if the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are the participants.
The Cubs hold the major-league record of 44 years without a pennant. The Indians hold the American League record, 35 years.
Did you know that . . .
* On this date in 1980, the Phillies, en route to their only World Series championship, were in third place with a 12-13 record and 4 1/2 games out of first. It would be the Phillies' last day below .500 that season.
* Lefthander Scott Radinsky of the White Sox, who had an 0.93 ERA in his first 12 relief appearances, is the first pitcher in the last six years to reach the majors after spending all of the previous season in single A. A guy named Dwight Gooden made the big jump in 1984.
* The Cincinnati Reds, who took a .299 team batting average into Friday's action, are not a threat to set the modern (post-1900) major-league record. That was established by the 1930 New York Giants. Led by Bill Terry, who hit .401, and a lineup that included six other .320-plus hitters, the Giants hit .319 that season - but finished third, behind St. Louis and Chicago. You could look it up.