Posted by: mdegeorge | April 7, 2011

A week’s worth of conclusions from the Majors

The Major League Baseball season is all of a week old. With about three percent of the schedule elapsed, it seems about the right time for some gross generalizations about what we’ve seen so far.

So without further ado, here are six enduring, set-in-stone conclusions we can draw from the first six games of the baseball season.

Tampa’s got some offensive issues. The Rays have seven runs in five games and rank last in the bigs in all four major offensive categories. Five regulars are hitting under .100, and they still have to contend with at least another two weeks without the only offensive force in their lineup, Evan Longoria. Hard to say you couldn’t see this coming for a team that replaced its best all-around hitter (Carl Crawford) and slugger (Carlos Pena) with geriatric former Red Sox Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (a combined 2-for-32 in nine games).

Panic time in Boston. The offense ranks near the bottom of the league. But it’s the pitching staff that should have Sox fans worried. They’re sporting an 8.33 ERA entering play Thursday and are one of only two staffs yet to turn in a quality start. They’re already three games behind the Yankees, and we’re starting to approach the “no team who’s started 0-foer has ever made the playoffs” territory.

The 2010 Cincinnati Reds weren’t a fluke. The Reds will lose eventually, I’m assuming. But they’ve shown an ability to win a variety of ways. They pulled out the heroics and showed the moxie of a championship team with their walk-off win opening day, a moment that may well become emblematic of another division-winning season. They are one of the few teams that can dig deep into starters six and seven to still get wins, and it seems like Edinson Volquez’s opening day shelling was just an aberration. Most of all though, they have a penchant for beating the crappy Central Division teams they’re supposed to beat, which ultimately pads the win total to playoff-caliber heights.

Texas is not missing Cliff Lee. C.J. Wilson looks like an ace, Alexei Ogando is adjusting to a starting role, and Colby Lewis and Darren Holland are doing what they did last season in the middle of the rotation. Sure, leading the league in slugging percentage and having the offensive firepower to bash your way to wins anytime you please helps too. But the 6-0 Rangers look to be living comfortably in the post-Lee life.

Baltimore could be for real. I had an inkling that these Orioles would be an entertaining team if not a playoff threat. But they’ve surrendered the fewest runs in baseball and lead the way in ERA, WHIP, and opposing batting average. If Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman keep this up until Brian Matusz and Justin Duchscherer return from injury sometime in May, you never know what could happen during the dog days of summer.

Offensive troubles still in St. Louie. A slow start to Albert Pujols’ season (.182 batting average) plus Matt Holliday’s appendicitis leave the Cardinals with only two homers in and 15 runs scored in six games. It’s not surprising with those numbers that they are only 2-4 and already 3.5 games off the pace set by Cincinnati. It is shocking that a 1-through-6 lineup of Skip Schumaker, Colby Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, Lance Berkman, and David Freese isn’t more productive.

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