Well everyone, baseball is officially underway. Of course the start of baseball season means the start of overreactions. Powerhouse teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Braves are off to slow starts while teams like the Royals and Mets began 2012 with series wins. Before anyone rushes to the waiver wire or dumps a star player lets take a closer look at the season so far.
Ian Kinsler – Kinsler is off to a hot start after hitting a HR and a double in his season debut. He just hit his 2nd HR (a 3-run shot to left field) as I’m typing this. Kinsler hasn’t agreed to a new contract with the Rangers yet so expect him to earn his paycheck this season.
The Detroit Tigers – Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera started this season the way Bobby Valentine and the rest of the AL managers were afraid of. The duo bashed two HRs each in a 10-0 rout of the BoSox the day after Justin Verlander struck out 7 batters in 8 scoreless innings. Austin Jackson is also off to a hot start with a .571 average but don’t expect that to last too long.
Pitching! – This may be the year of the pitcher again. There have been a lot of great starts so far but here are the players you should believe in (in no particular order):
Albert Pujols – The Pujols experiment in LA hasn’t gone so well. He’s batting .214 with 3 walks through 4 games. He added 1 run, 1 RBI and hasn’t gone deep yet. A lot of fantasy owners used a very early pick on Pujols and I hope no one is rushing to trade him. He has 158 more games to prove that he can be just as dominant in the AL as he was in the NL.
Boston Red Sox – It kills me to write this but other than John Lester I haven’t seen much to like. I have about the same level of concern for most Sox as I do Pujols but I have to admit that Ellsbury scares me a lot. He does not look confident at the plate and I expected more from him after a near-MVP season.
The Atlanta Braves – The 0-4 Braves should provide home fans with barf bags when they return to Atlanta on Friday (the 13th). They’ve increased their run total by one run each game but they’ve only scored 10 runs in their first four games. The only players batting over .300 so far are pitcher Brandon Beachy (.500 – 1 hit) and pinch hitter Eric Hinske (.333 – 1 hit). Martin Prado (.267) and Freddie Freeman (.250) lead the everyday players with in batting average and hits (4 each).
Carlos Pena – Pena made a statement with a grand slam off CC Sabathia and a walk off wall-scraping single off Mariano Rivera in his return to Tampa Bay. He’s batting .500 with 6 hits and 2 HRs but I don’t expect this hot start to continue. I’ll never question his power but I expect that batting average to come down fast.
Ichiro Suzuki – It hasn’t taken Ichiro very long to adapt to his new role as the Mariners’ 3-hitter. He’s hitting .409 but only has 3 RBIs. The team only has 9 extra base hits this season and only three of them are from the #1 & 2 hitters. There is a lot of potential here if some runners can get in scoring position for him.