Monday, April 13, 2015

2-out hits & misses: Week 1




The baseball season is officially a week old. Every team has played 6 or 7 games except for the Cubs and Cardinals. I'm introducing my weekly look around the league with my "2-out hits & misses" column. It's time for small sample sizes and overreactions. There was some good baseball and some really ugly baseball in the first week so let's take a look at what's going on now that the 2015 season is under way.

Hits

Top of the A.L. Central

The Detroit Tigers are something else. They've jumped out to a 6-0 start on the back of their juggernaut offense. Through 6 games the Tigers have a +31 run differential and have scored 47 total runs. That's just under 8 runs a game. It doesn't matter who is pitching for Detroit, they are getting enough run support daily.

Miguel Cabrera is locked in early hitting .520 (13-25) with 2 HR's and 2 doubles. Ian Kinsler keeps getting on base and has already scored 10 runs. Heck, Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .321 and it's only the 5th best batting average for a Tigers regular. This is Detroit's 4th time starting 6-0, the only time they started 7-0 was in 1984 when they ripped through the American League on their way to a title.

Kansas City is trying to prove that 2014 was no fluke. The Royals are also off to a 6-0 start. I haven't seen any of their games so I can't really speak to how they're doing it. I'll have to check them out sometime this week. By the way, the other 3 teams in the division have won a total of 5 games.


NL teams from 'C' places

Both the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds started out with decent first weeks. After starting off 4-0 each team lost their last 2 games but sit atop their respective divisions after 1 week of play. They've each done that in different ways.

All 4 of the Reds victories came in their last at bat . Twice they walked off and the other 2 times they scored in the 8th to hand Aroldis Chapman a lead for the 9th. It doesn't seem like a sustainable pace but has worked so far in The Queen City.

The Rockies on the other hand beat the cover off the ball to start the season. They lead the NL in pretty much every offensive category after playing 3 in the band box that is Miller Park and then 3 at home. The Rockies have 25 doubles out of their first 72 hits. That's a ridiculous number. They go to San Francisco for 3 and then to LA for 3 more this week so we'll see if they can keep that pace. I highly doubt it.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves won their first 5 games before falling to the Mets for loss number 1 on Sunday afternoon. Their biggest strength has been pitching. To be more specific, relief pitching. Sunday was the first time the bullpen gave up a run. It took Juan Jaime walking the bases loaded and even then only 1 run was scored. That came on a sacrifice fly against a rookie pitcher making his MLB debut. In 20.1 IP the Braves bullpen has struck out 22 batters while holding opponents to a .097 batting average. That's sick. This is another case of wondering if a team can sustain it but for now the Braves are rolling on the bump.

Misses

The Yankees

I'm writing this as they play Sunday night and the Yankees have a sizable lead on the Red Sox. It was helped by a 7-run first inning and they should finish the job for win number 2. Other than that they've been atrocious. New York has committed at least 1 error in each of its first 6 games. Through 5 games the team had a .195 batting average and .623 OPS. To top it off they had to suffer through 19 innings against Boston the other night only to finally lose after 2 am. And oh yeah, some the lights went out at Yankee Stadium causing a delay during that contest.

The lone bright spot has been Alex Rodriguez. He hasn't looked rusty after missing a year due to suspension. Tonight he had a 3-run double and has generally made solid contact. He's at 655 lifetime home runs now. I have to be honest, I've made some good friends on the Twitter machine so I'd like to see the Yankees be competitive this season for those people. My dad is probably rolling over in McCovey Cove right now. Sorry dad.

The bottom of the NL East

The Miami Marlins were picked by many to be the surprise team NL this season. The Washington Nationals are supposed to be running away with the NL East flag. Through 1 week of play these two teams are a combined 3-9. Small sample size you're saying to the screen. I know. But these are the facts at the moment.

The Marlins ran in to the Braves for the first few games and then dropped 2 out of 3 to what should be a mediocre Tampa Bay Rays team. Miami has hit only 1 home run and as a team has an OPS of .570. The pitching has been bad as well. They have the 2nd worst ERA in baseball at 5.73 and their combined WHIP is 1.44. That's also at the bottom of the league.

I don't know what's going on with the Nats. They dropped 2 of 3 from each the Mets and Phillies. While I think the Mets won't be horrible this year, the Phillies are not a good team. It took 2 nail biters for Washington to lose to Philly. Just chalk it up as one of those weeks. The Nats gave up 20 runs in 6 games which is not bad at all, the problem is they've only scored 13 themselves.

The banged up defending champs

The first week of the season it was just one thing after another with the San Francisco Giants. Let's tally it up. Matt Cain went on the 15-day DL with a forearm injury. Jake Peavy was scratched from his first start because of back soreness and then when he did pitch Sunday he chose not to find the strike zone and when he did it was to give up a grand slam to Wil Nieves. Brandon Belt tweaked his groin and missed 3 games. Casey McGehee strained his knee and will miss a few games this week.

Add to that Hunter Pence who is still on the DL after getting a bone broken in his arm during the spring and Madison Bumgarner giving up 10 hits and 5 runs on Saturday night to the Padres. The odd year thing is not being kind to the Giants as they started the season 3-1 and then dropped 3 straight to the Padres in San Diego. They go home to raise another championship banner on Monday so we'll see if things change when they are back home at raucous AT&T Park.

Bonus miss: I hate the stupid box that ESPN uses on Sunday Night Baseball.

Look at that thing. It's an insult to fans. Like we don't know where the freaking strike zone is supposed to be. And how can you have the same zone for every player when they come in all shapes and sizes? My mind is boggled.

Top 5

Every week I'm also going to share who I think are the top 5 teams in the game. There's no way I'm going to do all 30 and just having a great record will not always get a team on this list. It's just who I think are the 5 best teams in baseball heading in to the next week.

1. Detroit Tigers 6-0
2. Kansas City Royals 6-0
3. Atlanta Braves 5-1
4. San Diego Padres 4-3
5. Toronto Blue Jays 4-2

Thanks for joining me after a full week of baseball. It should be a fun season because it always is. It's baseball. If you're looking for my writing on just the San Francisco Giants you can find it over at TortureCast.com. The season is in full swing so we're also recording podcasts on a weekly basis.

-Eric
@2outhits




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