For me baseball doesn’t really start until Memorial Day weekend. We’re now nearly 1/3 into the season and I think that’s a large enough sample size to start making predictions and dissecting data to understand trends and projections. As a fan I’m not going to panic about April results, even May results but from this time go forward the season really starts to ramp up and we’ll begin to see who the real contenders and pretenders are for lack of a better phrase. Anything can happen with over 100 games to play but before you know it we’ll be at the All Star break and then Labor Day weekend and the season will be over. If teams like the Yankees and Astros are waiting for a second half push they better not wait too long, a back half of the year like the Mets in 2015 isn’t the norm.
Do we ever think Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak will ever be broken? I personally can’t see it happening. Whether it’s the pressure getting to someone or team’s limiting at-bats with walks/intentional walks, I can’t see someone even remotely getting close. This season we saw Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. get to 29 games, just over the half way mark to Joe D’s record. Since 1900, only three other players have surpassed streaks of 40+ games: Pete Rose (44-1978), George Sisler (41-1922) and Ty Cobb (40-1911).
In the more modern era, 1980 to present the list is even shorter of those reaching 30+ games:
- Paul Molitor – 39
- Jimmy Rollins – 38
- Luis Castillo – 35
- Chase Utley – 35
- Benito Santiago – 34
- Dan Uggla – 33
- Vlad Guerrero – 31
The National League Cy Young race is going to be a fascinating one with a handful of pitchers who can legitimately win the award. The five leading candidates lead all of baseball in earned run average, with the “highest” ERA being 2.12 which is amazingly great. Their combined record is a ho-hum 33-6 thus far. Matt Harvey has more losses (7) himself than those cumulatively. Maybe the Dark Knight wasn’t really a super hero after all. While they didn’t make the list let’s not forget that Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 2.69), Johnny Cueto (8-1, 2.31) and Jose Fernandez (8-2, 2.53) are having phenomenal seasons as well. We may end up with Jake Arrieta winning the Cy Young award and Clayton Kershaw winning the MVP.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD: 7-1, 1.56 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 105 Ks, 5 BB, 3.5 WAR (99 DD)
Jake Arrieta, CHC: 9-0, 1.56 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 75 Ks, 25 BB, 3.1 WAR (96 DD)
Noah Syndergaard, NYM: 5-2, 1.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 81 Ks, 9 BB, 2.6 WAR (93 DD)
Jason Hammel, CHC: 6-1, 2.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 50 Ks, 22 BB, 1.8 WAR (80 DD)
Madison Bumgarner, SF: 6-2, 2.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 83 Ks, 22 BB, 1.8 WAR (93 DD)
*DD = Diamond Dynasty rating from MLB 16 The Show
Over in the American League, our reigning Cy Young winner (89% share) is off to a rough start this season. Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros seems to have fallen back down to earth after a stellar year in 2015. Opponents are hitting .279 off the lefty and he’s been equally bad at home as he has on the road. If April was a slow start (2-3, 4.41) then May is a frigid one (1-3, 6.63). On the bright side Keuchel’s last start was impressive going 7 innings only allowing 2 runs and walking none against the Angels in a victory.
We’ve seen this story play out before, remember Corey Kluber? The Indians pitcher won the Cy Young in 2014 with an 18-9 record and 2.44 ERA. The next season he plummeted to a record of 9-16 despite a decent 3.49 ERA. This year Kluber still hasn’t rebounded and through 11 starts his numbers are even worse (4-6, 4.15 ERA). In my MLB Preview article I predicted a “hangover” but I had the wrong pitcher. I thought Arrieta was the fluke and I was dead wrong, Keuchel appears to be the fraud. I’m afraid to call either pitcher a one-hit-wonder but based on the numbers it’s hard not to think they might end up as an answer to a trivia question rather than a pitcher who was dominant for a span of time.
As of today, there are only four players in baseball who are batting at least .330 with a 1.000 OPS. Daniel Murphy has continued his hot hitting even since he’s moved south down I-95 to the nation’s capital. The Mets aren’t missing him yet but when it’s all said and done they might. Ryan Braun’s revival is the lone bright spot in another down year for the Brewers. David Ortiz in his final year looks like he can play for another five. Big Papi is crushing it right now as are most of the Red Sox batters. Which leads us to Jackie Bradley Jr. who we mentioned earlier.
↑ Daniel Murphy – .397 avg, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 1.062 ops
↑ Ryan Braun – .348 avg, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 1.000 ops
↑ David Ortiz – .335 avg, 14 HR, 47 RBI, 1.132 ops
↑ Jackie Bradley Jr. – .331 avg, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 1.010 ops
There’s nearly $100M of salary this year dedicated to the five players below and yet only 11 home runs so far this season in 887 at bats. To put this in perspective Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has two home runs, Adam Wainwright and Bartolo Colon both have one. Teixeira has been notorious for dreary starts but this is excessive for his standards. Prince Fielder is struggling mightily and well below his last year totals of .305/23/98. The remaining three players are all on new teams this year but have yet to make a big splash.
↓ Mark Teixeira – .190 avg, 3 HR, 12 RBI, .278 slg % ($23.1M)
↓ Prince Fielder – .194 avg, 3 HR, 27 RBI, .298 slg % ($24.0M)
↓ Justin Upton – .217 avg, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .326 slg % ($22.1M)
↓ Jason Heyward – .220 avg, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .333 slg % ($21.7M)
↓ Nick Markakis – .242 avg, 1 HR, 29 RBI, .345 obp % ($11.0M)