First Week Takeaways For Each MLB Team
Baseball is back! We’re about ten games into the season, and there’s already plenty to talk about.
AL East Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado is going to be a rich man. This is nothing new, but Machado proved in the first week why he’s going to be signing one of the biggest contracts in sports history this off-season. He shredded the Yankees pitching, hitting 2 home runs, 5 RBI, and .368/.429/737 in a four game series. If he continues to produce it will make it tough for Baltimore to not trade him at the deadline if they’re out of contention. Boston Red Sox They’re off to the best start in franchise history. After disappointing in his first two seasons as a Red Sox, David Price finally looks like he’s back. It’s only been two starts, but he’s looking like the pitcher that Boston gave $217 million to back in 2015. Unfortunately for them, Xander Bogaerts suffered a cracked bone in his left ankle and has been put on the 10-day Disabled List. The team expects him back in 10-14 days, but according to David Chao (@ProFootballDoc), who is my go-to guy on Twitter for athlete injuries, he says that “10-14 days would be the absolute best case scenario for any fracture of the talus. I hope this optimism is realized and not just a precursor of 60 day disabled list” Either way, it’s terrible news for the Red Sox as Bogaerts was on an absolute tear to start the season. New York Yankees Is Giancarlo Stanton ever going to stop striking out? Before this season, Stanton had never struck out five times in a single game before, yet he managed to do it twice in a six game span. Also, he’s the first player in the Live Ball Era to have two games with zero hits and five strikeouts in a season. No player has ever done that in an entire season, and he accomplished it in 10 games. As a whole, I’m not worried about Stanton. It’s ugly now but he’ll be back to crushing baseballs in no time. Also, it’s incredible how many Yankees have been injured already. Aaron Hicks, Brandon Drury, C.C. Sabathia and Billy McKinney have all been injured in-season and put on the DL, while Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier are all on the DL after suffering injuries in Spring Training. Terrible luck so far in the Bronx. Tampa Bay Rays This team is as bad as people expected them to be. Nothing has gone right for them on the field, and they’ll be lucky to reach 60 wins. Toronto Blue Jays Justin Smoak may actually be the real deal. Coming into this season, I was a big Smoak skeptic, but he may be proving me wrong. Last year was by far the best year of his career, and it wasn’t close. He’s piggybacked off of last season’s success and is currently slashing .357/.429/.619 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI, including an 8th inning Grand Slam that gave them the victory in a game against the Yankees.
We’ll see if he’ll be able to keep it up, but he’s off to a tremendous start.
AL Central Chicago White Sox The lineup has been decent so far. The highlight of the early season for the White Sox was Matt Davidson hitting three home runs on Opening Day. The one thing to watch going forward is Yoan Moncada. He’s a special talent, but he’s clearly still having trouble adjusting to major league pitching. If this team wants to be competitive, Moncada will have to figure it out. Cleveland Indians What an awful start to the year for the Indians. As a team, they have a combined batting average of .158. Even worse, their best hitter, Jose Ramirez, is 2-for-35 at the moment. This is simply just a bad start for a great team. There’s nothing to see here, they’ll be division champions when it’s all said and done. Detroit Tigers This team, much like the Rays, is as bad a people thought. Miguel Cabrera has actually been pretty good, which is awesome to see after his down season in 2017. Michael Fulmer has been incredible thus far, pitching to a 0.68 ERA and a 1-1 record in 13 1/3 innings. I have no hopes for this team, but seeing those two perform well is the only good thing coming out of Detroit right now. Kansas City Royals The day before Opening Day, Salvador Perez suffered an MCL tear and is expected to miss around 4-6 weeks. A terrible loss to start the year for a team that didn’t have much talent to start with. Ian Kennedy and Jakob Junis have both been very good. Kennedy has a 1-0 record, 0.75 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. While Junis is 2-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 9 strikeouts in 14 innings. Minnesota Twins Right before the season started, the MLB announced that they would not be punishing Miguel Sano for a sexual assault allegation from 2017. Sano has taken the opportunity and ran with it, as he already has 3 home runs, 8 RBI and a .258/.361/.645 slash line. The most exciting part of this team is Jose Berrios, who I predicted will finish top 5 in Cy Young voting this year. His first start of the year was dominant. He threw a complete game, 3-hit shutout with 6 strikeouts. His second start was terrible, 5 runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings. He’s still very young, only 23 years old, so he’ll continue to show some inconsistency. But even with the odd bad start, he’ll prove himself to be one of the best pitchers in the American League.
AL West Houston Astros This team isn’t fair. Before the season, I predicted them to win 106 games, and I’m beginning to think that that was too low. The team’s third and fourth starters have been incredible. Gerrit Cole, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in the off-season, is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 14 innings. While Charlie Morton is 2-0 with an unblemished 0.00 ERA, with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. The crazy part is that this rotation also includes Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. Around 110 wins actually seems realistic at this point. Los Angeles Angels The story of the year is in Los Angeles, and he goes by the name Shohei Ohtani. Hand up, I had my doubts coming into the season. I thought he’d be a very good pitcher, but struggle as a hitter. Yet, here we are, just over a week into the season, and he’s already accomplishing feats that haven’t been done since Babe Ruth. On the mound, he’s 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA, to go along with 18 strikeouts in 13 innings. In the second game he pitched, he carried a perfect game into the 7th inning, which is pretty good for your second career MLB start. In that near-perfect game, he looked untouchable. Reaching 100 MPH with his fastball, while throwing a splitter that drops off the table at the last second. It’s amazing to watch. Meanwhile, at the plate, he’s hit a home run in three straight games, one of which was off of reigning Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber. Just for good measure, he’s also hitting .389/.421/.889. A few weeks ago I said that he’s the most important player to come into the MLB in a long time, and so far, he’s proven to be just that. Oakland Athletics The most noteworthy part of the Athletics this season was how dominant Shohei Ohtani looked against them. Seriously though, Sean Manaea has been very good so far, with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 1.15. At the plate, Matt Chapman has been the bright spot. The second year slugger has hit 3 home runs while slashing .375/.444/.675. Texas Rangers Elvis Andrus is playing at a high level right now, proving that last season wasn’t a fluke. While Mike Minor is actually pitching well in the starting rotation. I questioned them moving him from the bullpen to the rotation, since he was a very good reliever last season. But in his two starts, he’s proven that he deserved a rotation spot. Seattle Mariners Robinson Cano is off to a blazing hot start. He hasn’t hit a home run yet, but he’s hitting .407/.500/.519 and leads the team with 8 runs. Edwin Diaz has been about as dominant as any reliever in the early goings of this year. He’s 3-for-3 in save opportunities and has struck out 8 of the 9 batters he’s faced. He’s in a prime position to be considered a part of the top tier of closers.
NL West Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman might be the best hitter in baseball, and that’s not hyperbole. Freeman has 2 home runs and 11 RBI, but the most impressive stat is that he’s walked 13 times, which is more walks than he has hits (11), all while slashing .333/.522/.667. Last season, he was on his way to winning the MVP until he was injured. This season, he’s put himself back on track to chase that award again. Also, just a side note, we are presumably less than a week away from Ronald Acuna being called up. Due to the service time rule, Atlanta just has to wait until Friday to call him up in order to get an extra year of control. Be excited. Be very excited. Miami Marlins The Marlins are an embarrassment. On Saturday they were down 17-1 to the Phillies in the 4th inning, eventually losing 20-1. After all the moves they made in the off-season, this was expected. But to actually see it in real life is something else. This team is a waste of virtual ink. Next. New York Mets The Mets are off to a phenomenal start. The unfortunate thing about the Mets is that they could start the season 30-1, and people would still feel uneasy about them. In the end, it all comes down to the health of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. If they can stay healthy, the Mets have the opportunity to make a playoff run. A pleasant surprise from the Mets has been closer Jeurys Familia. He missed most of last season due to injury, but he has come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. If he can keep it up, and if the aforementioned deGrom and Syndergaard can stay healthy, this pitching staff could be scary. Philadelphia Phillies Rhys Hoskins as an animal. After an historic 50 game late season debut last year, Hoskins is picking up right where he left off. He’s only hit one home run so far, but I don’t think the Phillies are complaining. Much like Freeman, he’s walking at a high rate, and his slash line is just straight up absurd. You ready for this? .429/.553/.821. I know it’s only a week in, but he’s proving to be spectacular. He’s also stolen two bases, which matches his total from last season. I’ve already seen a few people comparing him to Joey Votto, and it’s looking like that might be a proper comparison. On the negative side, Gabe Kapler might be off to an all-time worst start as a manager. He’s been taking his starting pitchers out way earlier than he should, essentially killed his bullpen, and even called for a pitching change when there was nobody warming up. Luckily for him, the umpire gave the pitcher a chance to warmup, which he wasn’t supposed to do. I’m sure he’ll straighten things out, but that’s not how you want to start your managerial career. Washington Nationals $400 million? $500 million? $600 million? Exactly how much money is Bryce Harper going to sign for this off-season? Harper is widely expected to sign the biggest contract in sports history, and he’s done nothing to start the year that would make you think he won’t. In ten games played, he already has a league leading 6 home runs, 12 RBI and has walked 16 times, which has led to a slash line of .345/.553/.966. If he keeps this up, half of a billion dollars might be considered not enough to sign Harper.
NL Central Chicago Cubs The very first pitch of the MLB season was crushed by Ian Happ for a homerun. For Cubs fans, this seemed like a sign of things to come. But ever since that first game, this team hasn’t been very good. In nine games, they’ve already struck out 93 times as a team, including 31 times in a two game span against the Marlins. For context, those games went a combined 27 innings, but it’s still not something you want to see.The one redeeming quality of the Cubs thus far has been the play of Kris Bryant. He looks like he’s back in MVP form, and if his teammates can start producing, he should once again be a top candidate for the award. Cincinnati Reds The Reds just suffered a huge blow, as third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who’s hit a combined 47 home runs and 152 RBI over the past two seasons, suffered a fractured thumb and is expected to miss close to two months. Along with that, Joey Votto is off to a slow start and Billy Hamilton looks lost at the plate. Hamilton is almost guaranteed to steal 60 bases again this season, but that’s going to do the team no good if he’s only hitting .200 or less. Milwaukee Brewers Right off the bat, Christian Yelich was placed on the 10-day Disabled List, and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. It’s a tough loss for the team, but it’s good news for Ryan Braun. The question coming into the season was who would play every day between Braun, Eric Thames and Domingo Santana. All three of them are starting calibre players, but there wasn’t room for all three in the same lineup. With the Yelich injury, there is now room for all three, and I expect Braun to make the most of the opportunity. In more injury news, the team lost Corey Knebel for an extended amount of time. The original estimate for his return is six weeks, but even that may be optimistic. Knebel was incredible last season, closing out 39 games with a 1.78 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 76 innings. Josh Hader, the team’s best reliever, is expected to stay as a multi-inning reliever, which leaves the closing duties to either Jacob Barnes or Matt Albers, neither of which seem like a great option. Pittsburgh Pirates It looks like this might be the year that Gregory Polanco reaches his potential. After a disappointing 2017, Polanco has started the year off with 3 home runs, and 13 RBI, which is currently the league lead. Polanco has the potential to be a 25 home run - 25 steal player, and this hot start is the first step to reaching those numbers. On the pitching side of things, Jameson Taillon has been lights out. His first two seasons were shaky, but he’s currently 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. St. Louis Cardinals The most exciting part of the Cardinals season was when Yadier Molina almost fought Arizona Diamondbacks manager, Torey Luvullo. Aside from that, nothing much has happened. Molina already has 3 home runs, which is surprising. Jose Martinez has been a nice surprise at first base. Luke Weaver has been great, pitching to a 1.59 ERA, while Carlos Martinez struggled mightily in his first start of the year, but bounced back in a big way in his second start.
NL West Arizona Diamondbacks Aside from Jake Lamb suffering an injury and being placed on the Disabled List, the Diamondbacks have been off to a great start. Paul Goldschmidt has been cold out of the gate, but he’ll be back to his MVP form in no time. The biggest storyline for me coming into the season was how the addition of a humidor would change things in their home park. It’s obviously an extremely small sample size, but the first week with the humidor went well for both their pitchers and hitters. It’s also nice to see Patrick Corbin dominating. He was at the centre of trade rumours in the off-season, and he’s answered those rumours by starting off 2-0, with an ERA of 1.38 and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings. Colorado Rockies Before even walking into their home stadium, the Rockies had 10 home runs as a team. Quite impressive for a team that is considered to only have hitting success at Coors Field. This past week, the team signed Charlie Blackmon to a six-year, $108 million contract, which prevents him from becoming a free agent this off-season. Blackmon turns 32 years old this season, so a six year deal may seem like a lot, but he should continue to perform at an MVP level for years to come. I’m actually quite angry at the Rockies right now. They kept Ryan McMahon on the roster to start the season, and yet they rarely play him. McMahon is a top prospect, and should be playing every day. If that’s not going to happen right away in the major leagues, then send him down to Triple-A so that he’s not sitting on the bench and losing out on valuable at-bats. Los Angeles Dodgers What is happening with Kenley Jansen? He’s settled down a bit after his terrible first two games, but there still seems to be something wrong. In his first game, he allowed a home run in the 9th inning, which ended up being the game winner, handing Jansen the loss. While in his second game, he blew the save, allowing three runs, leading to another Dodgers loss. So far in 2018, his velocity has reduced by around 2 MPH from last season. Now obviously it’s early in the season, and pitchers aren’t completely stretched out yet, so his velocity may increase over the coming months, but so far this year, he’s just looked off. If he can’t be the dominant pitcher that he’s expected to be, this team will be in trouble. Also, Clayton Kershaw is 0-2, but there’s absolutely nothing to worry about with him. San Diego Padres If you didn’t see the other day, the Padres lost an extra innings game by a score of 1-0 against the Houston Astros on a walk-off pop-up that landed about ten feet in front of home plate. The entire infield converged on the ball, but Eric Hosmer overran it, and it dropped for the game winner. If that’s not a sign of what’s to come this season, I don’t know what is. San Francisco Giants In the first four games of the season, the Giants scored a total of four runs, and somehow managed to win two games. In those four games, Joe Panik was literally their only source of offence, as he hit a solo home run in each of the first two games, both of which turned out to be game winners. Since those first four games, the offence has picked up a bit, but the team as a whole still haven’t been very good. It doesn’t help when Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, their two big off-season acquisitions, have struggled to begin the season. McCutchen did hit a walk-off home run against the Dodgers on Saturday, but aside from that, he hasn’t been good. With this team, it’s all going to come down to when Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Sarmardzija can return from injury.