We are one month down already of the baseball season. We’ve seen a lot of interesting things happen. We’ve seen surprises, disappointments, the unexplained, and debates rise up. It has been a fun start so far and here’s hoping it continues. So let’s look at what has gone on:
OHTANI-MANIA IS RUNNING WILD! The first pitcher/hitter player we’ve seen in the modern era has been Shohei Ohtani. After a very rough Spring Training with the Angels and rumors of him possibly going to Salt Lake to start the year, Ohtani proved the doubters wrong. Ohtani’s offensive numbers have been excellent to this point (.345, 4 HR, 12 RBI in 12 games) and his pitching has been decent to this point (4.43 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, with a 2-1 record and an 11.5 K/9 rate). A lot of people have now been wanting to see as some pen “the Japanese Babe Ruth” even over the best hitter in the game Mike Trout. That to me says something. And with it, the Angels, alongside the Athletics, Mariners, and Astros, are in the best division in all of baseball. MLB better start putting more games with these teams than the ones we have to constantly see in New York and Boston.
ENOUGH OF THE “NORTHERN TEAMS SHOULDN’T HAVE HOME GAMES EARLY IN THE SEASON” ARGUMENT: Look, I get it. Places like Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Chicago, etc. still deal with winter in April. I grew up in the Detroit area and know first-hand how it can get in the month. It’s not pleasant for sure. But let’s be real people. No team CANNOT play the entire month away from their ballpark. Ideas have been flowing around such as having certain teams play in roof venues like Milwaukee and Toronto and Miami to wait out and perhaps “pay it forward” when the Brewers, Blue Jays, and Marlins have home games later in the year. That’s first off dumb, but secondly why ruin other teams in the process? You’ll have cold weather in those cities in April and again in October. Are we going to move the Yankees games in October to Toronto because it is too cold? Seriously, come on. Nobody gripes on it in October. Yes, I say limit the amount of games in April in those cities and to division rivals and then flip it around in May. Don’t flip it in June, July, or August when you have every team’s best chance at high attendance numbers.
THE WHOLE MOUND VISIT COUNT THING HASN’T DONE ANYTHING OF “SPEEDING UP TH GAME.” It was a dumb idea to begin with and still is a dumb idea (not as dumb as the whole runner on 2nd to start extra innings in the Minor Leagues, but still dumb). We are still getting games over the 3 hour time. Manfred wants the game sped up. Okay fine, but so far, his ideas of the Intentional Walk (still dumb mind you) and this haven’t done anything. Maybe we should cut out that everytime there is a close play not to replay it and take 3-4 minutes. Maybe not “juice” the balls like they were in the World Series. Or better yet, let the players play. One thing that has been somewhat of a thing has been how many pitches are fouled off. That eats a lot of time there. But you cannot change that. Manfred needs to leave well alone.
THE DODGERS ARE NOT IN TROUBLE: Yes, I do think the World Series hangover hit them. And yes, I don’t think we will see Cody Bellinger hit almost 40 HR this year. But when Justin Turner gets back and if Alex Verdugo gets playing time and shows he’s legit like I think he will, Los Angeles will be back rolling. And while Clayton Kershaw has looked (ahem) human (though a 2.84 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP is to die for with any pitcher he is 1-4, but not fully his doing), the rotation has been solid.
THE NATIONALS MAY BE IN TROUBLE: Like the Dodgers, Washington shouldn’t be down for long. Whenever Daniel Murphy returns, it will be a boost as will Anthony Rendon. Ryan Zimmerman will break out of his slump at some point and you do have to figure Bryce Harper is more than capable of hitting HR’s (8 HR, but a .250 average though with an OPS of 1.000+). Again, the rotation is pretty good and Max Scherzer is off to a blazing start. But what is going to be a concern is that unlike the Dodgers where their chief concern may be Arizona, the Nationals will have to deal with a resurgent Mets squad, a very upstart Phillies squad that may not go anywhere and a young Braves squad that looks to be a far tougher team than many expect. When May rolls around, Washington will be no close than 5 games out of really all 3 teams. That might be a slight problem.
RED SOX, YANKEES, AND EVERYBODY ELSE: Maybe not fair for Toronto in the AL East who is posting a record over .500 nor Tampa Bay who picked it up after a super slow start but right now Boston and New York have already made the AL East a 2-team race. The lineups are stacked, the pitching is strong, and it just has that feel that we remember 10 years ago when the teams were at each other’s throats then too.]
THE AL COMEDY CENTRAL: This excludes the Indians. They got off to a slow start in 2016 and 2017 and then rolled. It is to be expected from them. And they should be fine as the White Sox are just waiting for their prospects to develop (meaning, they are pretty much indirectly tanking), the Royals are a hot mess, and the Twins have really gotten off to a VERY slow start (though to be fair, anytime they play the Yankees, they get destroyed). The Tigers haven’t been anywhere as bad as advertised, but expecting them to be in contention for the Wild Card this season is just not in the cards.
THE PIRATES HAVE PROVEN EVERYBODY WRONG SO FAR: People (myself included) were scratching their heads on why the Pirates traded their ace Gerritt Cole away and then traded the face of the team Andrew McCutchen away and then you had Pittsburgh say “oh no, we will still contend and we will do it while we somewhat rebuild.” Sounded dumb and insane, but well, they are the ones who are looking rational and smart. McCutchen has been a massive disappointment in SF so far though Cole has had a great start in Houston, but the pickup of Corey Dickerson for nearly nothing was just amazing as he has gotten off to a great start for Pittsburgh. Ivan Nova and Trevor Williams have both been stout for the Pirates as well. And quite honestly, Kyle Crick has been more of a contributor to the Pirates than McCutchen has for the Giants.
That’s it. Let May be just as good as April!
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat