7 Things We Know After One Week of Games
Here’s what you need to know about Major League Baseball through one week of games.
No. 1: The New York Mets are good
Mickey Callaway’s Mets are off to a blazing 9-1 start including a massive weekend sweep of the Washington Nationals. And the most interesting part? That this has all taken place while Noah Syndergaard, their ace, is in ownership of the highest ERA on the team.
Michael Conforto (who arrived over a month early from shoulder surgery), Yoenis Cespedes, and Jay Bruce pack a formidable punch in the outfield, and infielders such as Asdrubal Cabrera and Amed Rosario have proven to provide quality professional at bats. Combine this reality with an obviously dominant starting rotation and a high-upside bullpen, and this is a playoff team. Health willing, of course.
No. 2: Shohei Ohtani has all the tools
Let’s be honest — one week of baseball is far too small a sample size to draw any reasonable conclusion about a player. But this time, we can tell, right?
Ohtani is not going to keep up the pace that saw him smack three home runs in three games and twirl 7 innings of one-hit ball against the A’s, but he is definitely going to be quite the force in the United States.
Ohtani was apparently known for playing poorly in exhibition games and then stepping it up for the regular season in Japan, a trait he has brought to the Major Leagues. He’s shown us eye-popping stuff on the mound — a 100 MPH fastball and a nasty splitter — along with the natural power and barrel-to-ball skills of an All-Star.
Whether Ohtani will continue to play at a level that will put him in this year’s All-Star Game is to be determined, but we know with certainty that he is capable.
No. 3: Boston’s pitching is good enough
The offseason hype in the AL East mostly surrounded the New York Yankees, and with good reason. But there is one formula that can deliver a third consecutive division championship for the Red Sox, and to this point, it is working: improved production on the mound.
Red Sox starting pitching has amassed a sterling 1.70 ERA in 53.0 innings pitched. Their bullpen has been shaky and their lineup isn’t scoring as much as they’ll need to, but the bones are there. The Yankees have already shown how vulnerable they can be at times. Could Boston surprise us all and relegate them to the Wild Card game?
No. 4: Bryce Harper will put on a show
This should come as no surprise, but Harper is playing so well that it needs to be recognized, especially since he is about to get PAID.
Through a week and a half of baseball, Harper is batting .357/.535/1.000 with 6 home runs and 12 RBI’s. Harper could not have dreamed up a better beginning to the season.
There will be plenty of talk as to where Harper will wind up this winter, but for now, he is happy to let his play speak for itself.
No. 5: The Houston Astros are still the best team…by a lot
There are only two one-loss teams left around the league, and the Astros are not one of them. But do not let that fool you — Houston is the best team in all of baseball and really isn’t that close right now.
The entire core of last season’s championship group remains intact, and this year’s team will get a full season out of starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, whom alone would serve as one of the best 1-2 punches in the game.
Houston’s greatest challenge will be staying focused over the course of a 162 game schedule that will almost definitely crown them champions of the AL West, but strong veteran leadership along with the emergence of the Angels should keep this team fired up enough to win 100+ games.
No. 6: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge won’t combine for 100 home runs
This isn’t to say that both won’t have terrific years and that the Yankees won’t be successful, but Stanton and Judge have already proven that not all will go as planned in the Bronx — and how could it?
Stanton and Judge were given unreachable expectations prior to the season, as some speculated that the pair could launch as many as 120 regular season home runs together.
It’s going to take some time for Stanton to adjust to New York as well as the American League pitchers, a factor that many seem to take lightly. The reality for these two is that they will almost certainly both be All-Stars, but aren’t going to look just like Ruth and Mantle in year one.
No. 7: The pace of play initiatives are working
Increasing the pace of action was an important goal for Major League Baseball this season, and to this point, it is working. The average length of a big league game is down almost five minutes, from 3:05:11 to 3:00:58 according to Forbes. It’s a small step, but it shows that the game is trending in the right direction.