Baseball Update- May

Posted: 05/10/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

More than a month of the baseball season has evaporated in seemingly the blink of an eye. Some teams have done as we expected (see: Braves, Marlins, Astros) while some have played contrary to preseason predictions (see: Angels, Yankees, Blue Jays).

Interesting Story lines to follow:

Los Angeles: The Angels and Dodgers are playing their players around 250 million dollars this season, combined. And they have a whopping 25-42 record to show for it, to go along with a 4th (barely ahead of the Astros) and 5th place ranking in the standings. This is a fascinating situation, as both teams were expected to win their divisions or at least make the playoffs. Both teams have the talent to turn it around, but I’m not sure they can after digging themselves into such a deep hole. Both teams are dysfunctional, but the Angels are worse. Unlike the Dodgers, they have very few major injuries. Unlike the Dodgers, they have three of the so called “Best hitters in baseball.” Unlike the Dodgers, they have been outscored by the Astros by a score of 25-22 in six games against them. The Astros have won 10 games this season, and three have come against LA. Worst of all, the Angels, again unlike the Dodgers, have a defeated sort of sound and look. Even if they have the talent to get back into the swing of things, they might not have the spirit.

The Astros: No, they won’t be making a playoff run, but this team is still fascinating. They have struck out 353 times this season, which is more than 10 times per game. They are on pace to shatter the strikeout record. They are also on pace to have a -340 run differential. Since 1900, the Red Sox of 1932 have the worst single season run differential, and it is -349. The Astros could break many records of futility.

The Braves: The Braves have been shut out five times, they are second in the MLB in strikeouts, have the third worst stolen base % in the MLB, and are in the bottom half of the Majors in batting average. They also have the second best record in the MLB. This is the most hit and miss team in baseball, and they hit more often than not. Their top four starters are one of the best quartet in the MLB: Tim Hudson, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm. Each have pitched well this year, and each should continue to pitch well. Who would have thought that a team that strikes out so much could be so good?

The AL East: We all saw this coming. A dogfight in the AL East, already. Three teams are tied for first place. It just might not be the three teams you would have thought coming into the season. The Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles have all thrived, despite having arguably worse teams than the Blue Jays and the Rays. I think the Rays will bounce back, making it a legit four team race. The Jays could even make things interesting by the end of the season. This is a race to watch.

Yu Darvish: Darvish’s strikeout rates have been insane. In seven starts and 45 and two third innings, he has an insane 72 strikeouts. He’s on pace for 343 K’s, and has struck out 14.19 guys per nine innings. The record is 13.62.

Teams who have surprised… and will continue to surprise- in a good way:
Arizona Diamondbacks.. The team commonly picked to finish around .500 in the NL West and to finish third has started 20-15 and is tied for first in the division. I predicted this, and I’ll stand by my prediction. Even with hitters like Miguel Montero and Martin Prado struggling and the outfield (Jason Kubel Cody Ross, Adam Eaton, the original starting outfield, have all been hurt) banged up, they have thrived. Paul Goldschmidt is becoming a star and nobody has noticed. He is hitting .315 with a .409 OBP and a .987 OPS, and has nine homers and an underrated four steals. He is also a good defender. I think he is the fourth best first baseman in baseball (behind Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, and Albert Pujols). He’s that good.

Boston Red Sox.. The pieces are there.. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury. If they don’t win the AL East, they are going to come close.

Cleveland Indians: They have a terrific team, especially hitting wise. And they have a good manager. I think they’ll push the Royals for second in the division.

Teams who have surprised.. and will continue to surprise- in a bad way:
Toronto Blue Jays.. I just don’t get a good vibe with this team. They’ll finish fifth in the AL East.

Philadelphia Phillies.. The dynasty is long over. I wouldn’t be surprised if they blew it up this July.

Chicago White Sox.. Many predicted them to finish over .500. They are at 14-18 now, and don’t have the pieces to stay afloat in a suddenly strong division.

Teams who have surprised… and will slump:
Colorado Rockies.. They just don’t have the pitching. I think they’ll finish with more wins than was originally predicted, but they will not be over .500 for long.

Minnesota Twins… The Twins? Over .500? Don’t buy it, because it won’t last.

Teams who have disappointed.. and will surge:
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays always start off slowly. They are fourth in the division right now, but they still have a good chance at winning the division.

Washington Nationals: The consensus “best team in the MLB” is just 19-15. They have too much talent, and will turn it around.

Los Angeles Dodgers: I think they will turn it around. The only question is: How big of a hole will they have dug themselves into?


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