A week into the baseball season there are some things we can tell already.
Let me make a few caveats before I go any further. October is a long way off. Some of the things I am going to point out will hold through the whole season and some won’t. Some of the evidence is simply supporting some previous assumptions, while some are complete surprises.
The Red Sox are not that bad. Many, including myself, were expecting a last place finish for Boston. They have the second highest OPS (Colorado is first, no surprise there) in the majors. Their ERA is a respectable 3.29.
Boston opened with a series against two division rivals, the Yankees and Blue Jays, two teams expected to contend for the division crown. All this while David Ortiz has been on the DL. They’ll hang around for a while.
We have seen the Phillies in a slow decline since they won the World Series in 2008. That team was third in the NL in OPS, second in runs and first in home runs. They were a team built around a great lineup and good pitching. That was the perfect formula for their ballpark. Since then they have concentrated on pitching. I have no idea why.
Now their pitching is starting to fail them and their offense is no more than average. The ’08 team used to blast teams at home. This team isn’t equipped to do that. I’ll be betting against them as home favorites.
The Astros are bad. We expected that, but how about trying to get some wood on the ball? They are on a record pace for strikeouts – 74 through six games. Five of the first six starters they faced have set or tied their career highs in strikeouts. I realize an out is an out, but how can you possibly put on a hit and run when 46% of your outs come without the ball being put in play? We expected 100 losses from this team. I’ve seen nothing to change that opinion.
The Astros can say, “At least we’re not the Pirates.” Where do I begin? They are 30th in runs, 30th in batting average, 30th in on base percentage, 30th in OPS, and 30th in extra base hits. By the way, there are only 30 teams in the majors. They are tied for 29th in home runs (yay!)
Their best offensive stat is tied for 28th in catcher’s interference with zero. Their pitching has held up well so far. They are sixth in ERA, No. 2 in runs against and fourth in batting average against.
No team can possibly hit this poorly for a whole season, can they? At this rate, the former Pirate who set the standard for futility, Mario Mendoza would be their third best hitter. I’m completely serious.
One pitcher to watch is last year’s NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, now with the Blue Jays. The 38-year-old has one of the most compelling stories in any walk of life.
Read his book if you don’t believe me. It’s impossible not to root for this guy, but as an objective handicapper there are some real danger signs. Man, I hope I’m wrong.
Athletes at that age can lose it quickly. Odds are last year was the aberration and not his first two starts of 2013. The one thing he has going for him is the Mets refused to sign him. They haven’t made a smart move in 25 years.
Josh Hamilton is really worrying me. We all know of his past troubles. Whether you are of the school that those problems are the result of a disease or bad decisions, as a ballplayer it doesn’t matter all that much. The Angels put over $100 million in a highly questionable investment.
Hamilton managed to collect three hits in this last game against his former team, the Rangers. Until then he was 1-for-20 with 10 K’s. So many strkeouts that the Astros started thinking he would be perfect in the middle of their lineup.
The Rangers showed little respect. Three times they walked Albert Pujols intentionally to get to him. Hamilton has been a streak hitter his whole career.
He has shown so much brilliance in his relatively short time frame there is still a shot at the Hall Of Fame off less than stellar career numbers.
Josh looks despondent and uninterested at times. And that’s what worries me most. He is one the most star-crossed athletes of our time. He could have been Babe Ruth, but he blew it. Maybe he can still be Mickey Mantle and not Darryl Strawberry.
That’s not so bad. I hope he can keep it together.