It is far too early to anoint Phillies as World Series champions or label Chris Sale’s contract a bust, or even start thinking that the Baltimore Orioles might be a good team. Here are some interesting snippets from the opening few days.
One of the Astros’ pre-season aims was to be more aggressive on the basepaths. So far they have been caught-stealing five times in six attempts. That’s what I call aggressive.
Los Angeles Angels
Even with the best player on the planet, the Angels are only hitting .188. Their bullpen has looked good, with Cody Allen, Ty Buttrey, Luke Bard and Cam Bedrosian all boasting a 0.00 ERA.
Using Openers is so 2018. Since returning to the USA, the A’s have used five starters in their five games, each throwing six innings, with a combined 0.30 ERA.
Outfielder Mitch Haniger has been hit three times in 26 plate appearances. He was only hit 10 times in the whole of last season. Maybe the Mariners should change their colours to black and blue.
27-year-old Minor League pitcher Adrian Sampson was called up to boost the bullpen. He ended up throwing the final six innings against the Astros, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out Jose Altuve, George Springer and Tyler White, and although he was tagged with the loss, it was a game he won’t forget.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are the only team not to have allowed a home run in 2019. I have nothing more to add.
Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, the devastating Indians rotation, have zero wins between them. Relief pitcher Jon Edwards has two. Pitcher wins is such a worthless stat.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are the only team yet to hit a home run this season, but they have outscored both the Astros and Nationals.
Although they have only played three games, the Twins starters lead the league with a combined strikeout rate of 44.1% (13.25 K/9). In case you’re struggling to name them, that’s Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi.
The Orioles are 3-1, including the series win over the Yankees. Only 54 more wins to meet their PECOTA projection for the season.
New York Yankees
Poor Luke Voit. He started the season with a three-run homer in his first at-bat. He then walked in his second plate appearance and was hit by a pitch in his third. He walked again in his fourth time at the plate. This gave him a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage and 4.000 slugging percentage to start the season. It could only go downhill from there.
Tampa Bay Rays
Rays hitters have the highest strikeout rate in the league and have only taken seven walks (three of which were by Yandy Diaz). New, innovative strategy or sample size?
Toronto Blue Jays
Relief pitcher Elvis Luciano became the first player born this century to appear in a Major League game. Damn, I feel old.
The Rockies are yet to play in Denver this season to enjoy the Coors Field effect. So far, they have combined to hit fewer home runs than JT Riddle. The Marlins shortstop hit both of his dingers against the Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers hit 235 homers last season. With 16 over their first five games this season, Cody Bellinger and his mates are on-pace for over 500 in 2019.
San Diego Padres
Remember all of that pre-season chat about how the Padres couldn’t compete as they had no pitching? Well, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Nick Margevicius and Chris Paddack have combined for a 0.83 ERA. And Kirby Yates is tied for the league lead with three saves.
San Francisco Giants
April 1st: Pablo Sandoval scores one and drives in one as the Giants defeat division favourites Los Angeles Dodgers. Amazingly this wasn’t an April Fool’s prank.
Yu Darvish issued a career-high seven walks in his first start (2⅔ innings). The Astros have only given three free passes in their five games (42 innings).
The Michael Lorenzen experiment is in action. The 27-year-old has hit, pinch-run, manned centre field and thrown 2⅔ scoreless innings in relief.
NL MVP Christian Yelich homered in the first four games of the season. He is on-pace for 129 home runs this year. I’m taking the under.
Chris Archer is one of only six pitchers so far to throw a scoreless start while striking out at least eight batters. It is a marked improvement on 2018, when he still had a 6.61 ERA at the end of April.
St Louis Cardinals
You think Paul Goldschmidt is off to a hot start with four home runs in his first five games? He has fewer runs and stolen bases than Kolten Wong and trails him in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. The second baseman is so red hot, I guess you could call him Molten Wong. No?
Don’t sleep on the Braves. Ronald Acuna has walked four times. Ozzie Albies has walked three times. They are 21 and 22 years old respectively. This sort of patience in such young power hitters is scary for the rest of the division.
Sandy Alcantara pitched eight scoreless innings and was assisted by Sergio Romo to shut out the Rockies and split the opening series. They are tied with the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox and Cubs on six home runs.
New York Mets
Rather than playing the service time manipulation game, the Mets included Peter Alonso on their Opening Day roster. Good job too, the rookie has as many RBI as Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis combined.
Third baseman of the only undefeated team, the much-maligned Maikel Franco has a 25% walk rate this season and as many homers as teammate Bryce Harper, yet the Philly-faithful do not chant “MVP” when Franco is at the plate.
Max Scherzer allowed just two runs while striking out 12 batters on Opening Day. He struck out nine and allowed one earned in his second start. Tagged with the loss both times, he is 0-2 on the season. Pitcher wins are the most appalling statistic. I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before.
Hopefully, you heard Baseball Brit on the Effectively Wild podcast the other day. If not you can catch it here. 2019 will be the greatest year ever to be a baseball fan in the UK. Make sure you keep up with all of the excitement in the build-up to the London Series by following @BatFlips_Nerds and subscribing to our podcasts. Get involved in the conversation.