Sure, it’s 1 game out of 162. But that doesn’t mean that the results from the first few days of April can’t tell us anything about how the season will unfold. Here are 10 conclusions we can draw from Opening Day.
1. Madison Bumgarner is the most entertaining pitcher in baseball
Bumgarner is an absolute bulldog, which is the main reason for his legendary postseason success. His attacking demeanor is a pleasure to watch every five days, and Bumgarner looks to be a serious contender for the National League Cy Young Award. On Opening Day, the southpaw threw seven innings of one run ball, but that’s not why he made headlines.
The Giants starter put his impressive offensive abilities on display, becoming the first pitcher in the history of baseball to hit two home runs on Opening Day. Bumgarner is widely regarded as the best hitting pitcher in the game. He is far from an automatic out, making his at-bats must-see entertainment.
2. The Cardinals will hang around with the Cubs
Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals made a statement by defeating the Cubs in the first game of the season. The Cardinals squandered a 3-0 lead in the 9th inning but rallied to win the game behind a walk off hit from Randal Grichuk.
Martinez threw 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, dominating with ten strikeouts on 105 pitches. If this night was any indication, St. Louis will not go down without a fight this season.
3. Bryce Harper is back
It’s no secret that the 24-year-old right fielder is expected to have a bounce back season, but Harper made it official on Monday, hitting yet another Opening Day home run.
Harper has smacked five career Opening Day home runs, a stunning statistic considering he’s only played on Opening Day five times (2 in 2013, 1 each from 2015-2017). Expect Harper to look more like the 2015 version of himself as opposed to the watered down player we saw last season.
4. Noah Syndergaard is the filthiest pitcher in the Major Leagues
Thor was exceptional Monday afternoon, tossing six shutout innings before being removed from the game with a blister. Syndergaard flaunted a running two seam fastball that sat in the 98-99 MPH range, a devastating 92-93 MPH slider, and a nasty 91 MPH change up that falls of the table. Syndergaard is a top candidate for the NL Cy Young and is the definitive ace of the vaunted New York Mets rotation.
5. The Rockies offense will be a force
I know it came against the Brewers. But still, it was impressive to see Colorado’s power laden offense drop seven runs on Opening Day. Their lineup features Charlie Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story- an awe inspiring collection of offensive talent. The Rockies are a popular sleeper to sneak into the postseason.
6. The Orioles did the right thing by re-signing Mark Trumbo
In the first game of the season, Trumbo put his power on display by smashing a walk off home run in the 11th inning. Trumbo led the big leagues with 47 home runs a year ago but struggled on the open market because of a lack of defensive flexibility and a low on-base percentage.
Trumbo eventually returned to an Orioles team that desperately needed him. It’s a perfect fit for both sides and if Baltimore is to outplay their preseason projections, Trumbo needs to replicate the success he had a year ago.
7. John Farrell has a lot of lineup flexibility
The Red Sox have the best lineup in the game. It’s hard to deny this when the manager Farrell opted to place perennial All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts sixth in the lineup. Rookie of the Year favorite Andrew Benintendi hit out of the two-hole and clobbered his first home run of the season. Between Bogaerts, Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and Jackie Bradley Jr., the Sox offense is primed to once again lead the American League in runs.
8. Clayton Kershaw: The Best.
This one does not require an explanation. I’ll just present you with his line:
7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.
9. Carlos Correa is an MVP favorite
To a lesser degree than Harper, Correa suffered from a moderately disappointing 2016 campaign. The Puerto Rico native entered the season as the prohibitive winner of the “best shortstop in baseball” title. As the season progressed, Correa saw other young stars such as Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager receive similar acclaim.
With a mammoth Opening Day home run and a win for the Astros, Correa is prepared to put on a fantastic 2017 season. Correa is my pick for this year’s AL MVP.
10. Be afraid of the return of Michael Brantley
Brantley appeared in just eleven games last season, leaving some to forget that he entered the year as the best player on the Indians roster. Brantley came third in AL MVP voting in 2014 and has consistently posted batting averages of at least .280 since being called up to the big leagues in 2009.
With Brantley returning to an Indians team that won the pennant in 2016, Cleveland is a favorite to return to the world Series.