First Week Surprises and Disappointments

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Every year during the offseason we see a flurry of things and as fans obsess over the details and possibilities for the season to come. Some of us look forward to hopefully a better year, some of us celebrate previous success, and others are content with rebuilding years in hopes to be celebrating in the future. As we are now a week and a half into the season, most teams have played 8-9 games now and I want to take this time to focus on the main thing analysts and fans try to predict and debate about. The division standings.

Without doing any research off the bat I recall most publications and analysts, twitter personalities with opinions etc, having a lot of the similar predictions. LA to win the NL West, Chicago and St Louis to control the Central and NY and Washington to hold down  the East. IN the AL you have Seattle and Houston expected to own the AL West, Cleveland and KC in the Central and Boston and Toronto in the East. That is at least the dominant opinion. I can’t say I disagreed much after the season we seen close in 2016. After the most entertaining World Series I have seen personally in my 30 years here though we begin to talk about who will be traded, what teams will tear it all down, and what teams will spend on the big free agents. This typically changes the playing fields for the following season.

I’ll start by saying in the first 10 days the NL East is the only division has not surprised me. Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce power an offense led by fantastic pitching right to the top. I am a fan of Jay Bruce as a player so I am happy as a fan to see him getting off to a good start there now. Washington is only a game behind the Mets though and Bryce Harper has continued to tear the cover off the ball from Spring Training to the Opening week and beyond.

In the AL East we can see Baltimore perched atop right above a Rays team that has looked very good as well. At this rate the Rays appear to be a .500 team but it’s still early. Baltimore has a surging offense and Manny Machado has looked really good so far. I like this team. The big disappointment though is Toronto. They have only won 1 game and sit in the basement. In the middle of the pack with an even record is the expected winners. The Red Sox. I don’t think it will be long before Boston kicks it into gear and strings together some solid pitching performances and have some big blowouts with that offense. I think a lot of Boston’s expectations will ride on how David Price does once he returns from the DL soon.

In the NL central even I am guilty of pretty much giving it to Chicago. Chicago has gotten off to a rough start but appear to be turning it around. Kris Bryant has so far been rather unexciting and St. Louis is sitting in last place. Pirates and Brewers are somewhere in the middle while Cincinnati has the second best record in the NL. Cincinnati has hit home runs in every game and had 3 shut-out performances. A roster that is loaded with rookies and young talent it appears that these young guys are playing with confidence and the young pitchers are starting to figure out their mechanics and throw with conviction. I am a glowing Reds fan this morning but a rational part of me says it won’t last all while a more obnoxious voice in my head keeps yelling over my sensible thinking chanting of the 1990 wire-to-wire team. I can dream right?

The AL Central everyone I am sure had Cleveland pegged to take it with ease. I mean I did, and why wouldn’t you? They played amazing in the World Series and made all the right moves in the offseason to improve. They got Michael Brantley back healthy and he is hitting walk-offs, of course you pick Cleveland. And you would be right the first week. They went on to win 4 in a row out of the gate but then lost 4 in a row to fall in the middle. Detroit is not exactly a stranger to dominating the division but they’re in a weird place as a team. They have young talent but also some question marks in Justin Verlander. Is he back to being a Cy Young pitcher for good? Is Miguel Cabrera still going to hit 40 homeruns? Is Carson Fulmer the real deal? Is Castellanos going to take the next step to star status? Will Martinez perform well coming off the DL? Well these questions so far don’t matter. Detroit sits atop right above above the team that I think has shocked most of us fans. Minnesota. This Minnesota team was pegged to barely win 60 and so far their young team is performing well. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are supposed to be the future there. We will see. KC and Chicago are so far not relevant.

We head out west where things may be more interesting now. In the National League we’re expecting the dodgers and Giants to continue their year to year fight for first but so far the story has been Arizona and Colorado. Both of these teams are loaded with young guys. Colorado has all the young guys on the field who are all capable of elite slugging. Their pitching will be their weakness but so far some rookies have done well and that’s reflected in the win/loss columns. Arizona on the other hand on paper have a very good pitching staff but last year Greinke under performed and the team did not do well. So far they are the best in the NL and the offense is rolling. I’d like to see some new teams in the playoffs and the NL west is one division I could care less about.

The AL West is the most intriguing to me so far. Seattle has shown their struggles and Oakland is a team nobody knows what to expect because of the way they move players in an out regularly. Texas looks to be primed for the post-season again soon but they’ll have to get through Houston and LA. I don’t give LA enough credit. Sure they have Pujols and Trout but that hasn’t done them any good in the recent past so why would that change now? Well, CJ Cron is starting to hit well, Escobar looks great so far and Calhoun is underrated as a hitter. THeir pitching seems rather unexciting but Garrett Richards is back and it would be perfect for him to return to the ace performer he was before the injury.

For now as a Reds fan, everything is right in the world but optimism and reality don’t always mesh good so as we head into the second weekend of baseball what have you seen or noticed about teams that is different than what you’re used to seeing? What players do you feel are underrated and outplaying their reputation?


Unknown said...

So far the 3 most surprising teams for me are the Diamondbacks, Mariners and Blue Jays. The Diamondbacks have won games against what should be really good teams in the Giants and Indians. The other teams that are off to hot starts aren't that shocking. Minnesota started off their season playing the White Sox and Royals. The Reds and Angels are surprising as well but I can't see either of them maintaining.
The Mariners and Blue Jays are the teams that are going to be in real trouble if they don't right the ship soon. They are in too good of divisions to get off to this kind of start. Both team's offenses have looked bad and their pitching has been middle of the road. Some of the other teams that are sitting in the middle like the Cubs, Indians and Red Sox have had plenty of distractions to lead to sub-par starts.

Unknown said...

Josh Donaldson getting injured is bad news for Toronto. I think those middle of the pack teams will find their mojo and be back on top shortly.

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