The beauty of sports is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot win anything on paper. As old as the adage is, it proves true every time. That is why we love sports. That is why we love baseball.
Now, I will temper my enthusiasm and point to the fact that only 10% of the games have been played so far. There is no season longer than the baseball season, so things can and will change. However, that does not mean we cannot look around the league and have some fun with what has transpired so far.
National League – What is going on?
Raise your hand if you had the Mets, Pirates, and Diamondbacks leading their respective divisions at any point in the season? OK, let us make it harder. Raise your hands if you had the Phillies or Braves with records above .500 ? Ok, one more. Raise your hands if you had the dominant Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers with records at or below .500. After the weekend series, the Nats had a .438 record and were seven games behind the Mets in the loss column. The Cubs were the best of the bunch at .500, 3.5 games back. The Dodgers, well they were in last place with a .357 record 5.5 games behind the Diamondbacks. Again, no one expects these teams to stay this bad, but truth be told, these fan bases have not been all too happy considering their respective championship aspirations.
Two fan bases holding their breath, hoping their team’s hot starts continue are the Mets and Pirates. The Mets find themselves 10 games over 500 (12-2), with the best Staff ERA and Bullpen ERA. Mickey Callaway has pushed all the right buttons. The dream staff of Syndergaard, DeGrom, Matz, Harvey, and Wheeler has finally gone through one successful rotation. The Mets have won with timely hitting and better pitching. They are healthy, and that means they are scary. The Mets all-time franchise best start has bought themselves a small cushion to land on when they begin to lose some games, but just for kicks, if they play 500 ball the rest of the way, they will finish with 86 wins, and in the hunt for a wild card. That’s not a bad start!
The Pirates were not supposed to be good. They unloaded former MVP Andrew McCuttcheon to the Giants and ace Gerritt Cole to the Astros (the rich get richer. Fans were writing petitions to remove the ownership. Yet, here they are, winning ballgames in a very complete manner. The Pirates schedule has not been a complete walkthrough with series against the Cubs, and Twins and the surprisingly above .500 Phillies. They have also played the Marlins and Tigers who don’t scare anyone. It will be interesting to see where they are next month.
All hail The Sho-Hei Kid
Baseball can sometimes be a little tired with all the “get off my lawn” commentary from all the old guys who have played the game. The problem that many people point to with baseball is that it doesn’t ever adapt or change. “That’s how you play the game” Or “Respect the game” are antiquated phrases that former players and analysts spew and it is tired. You know what isn’t tired? Watching Shohei Otani. The kid is good! Really good! What makes it better, everyone wanted him to fail. “You can’t pitch and hit in this league!” “It can’t be done!” “Pick one!” After a rough spring, many thought he would fall flat. Instead, check these numbers out; As a starter He is 2 -0 with a 2.08 ERA, 18 K .46 WHIP in 13 Innings. Those are very strong top of the rotation numbers. It gets better! Check out his bat! In 8 games, He is hitting .367 with a .424 OBP and a .767 SlG %. That’s a 1.191 OPS!!! Not to mention 3 HR, 5 XBH, 11 RBI. You what baseball needs, Pitchers who can play every day and hit. The last one who could really do both, Babe Ruth! I’m not saying he will be Babe Ruth, but I will tune in every time he is in the game. He is that good.
The Angels, are must watch baseball. They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, who has started off HOT. They have Shohei. They have the great Albert Pujols (downward trend be darned) chasing 3000 hits (2,988 to date) and climbing up the all-time home run list (617) They have a stacked lineup with a healthy Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton and others. They lead all of baseball in Runs Scored, Home Runs, Batting Average, Slugging % and OPS. Buy tickets and go watch this team, when they come to your town.
Other Things to Watch
Bryce Harper – The Nats may not be clicking, but Bryce is mashing. His at-bats are must see TV. If the rest of the team doesn’t hit, he may be walking at a Bondsian mark.
Stanton Struggles – It is April and it is cold, and Giancarlo Stanton has not been hitting. After an exciting opening day homer, the Yankees fan base has already booed their prize acquisition. Expect him to turn things around by mid-May. Judge, Stanton, Sanchez and the Yankees will bomb.
Boston Strong – The Sox, after their bullpen erupted in the first game of the season have only lost one other game since. They are hitting well (2nd behind the Angels in most major stats) and their starting pitching has been dominant. This team is really good!
The Champs just doing their thing – Don’t forget about the Astros. Their lineup hasn’t come around yet, but their pitching is showing once again how good this team can be. They will get hot. We can’t wait to watch the Angels vs. Astros play 19 times this year.
Throughout the season, we will continue to track these and other developing stories. After a record setting 2017 in Home Runs, they are down this year. Is the weather to blame? Will chicks no longer dig the long ball? Tune in here every month to find out.