Here are some American League revelations from a hectic opening week in baseball.
1. Reports of Miguel Cabrera's April demise have been greatly exaggerated
Apparently, not everyone needs a fully healed orbital bone to destroy major league pitching.
Over the weekend, Cabrera showed no ill effects of a spring training eye injury—courtesy of bad-hop liner off Hunter Pence's bat—and bulldozed his way to three homers, five hits, five runs, eight RBI and 1.806 OPS against the Red Sox.
The three-game assault went a long way toward justifying Cabrera's preseason No. 1 ranking for AL-only and mixed leagues. It also reaffirmed my belief that no reasonable trade sacrifice is too great to land the most explosive asset with homers, RBI, runs and batting average.
2. Chris Perez had nowhere to go but up after Friday's hard-to-watch meltdown
Perez's ninth-inning appearance from the Blue Jays-Indians opener might have been the shakiest single performance of any reliever. Ever.
Called upon to secure Justin Masterson's gem (one earned run in eight innings, 10/1 K/BB ratio) and Cleveland's 4-1 lead, Perez was a hot mess on a windy day, allowing two walks, three hits, three runs and the longest double you'll ever see at Progressive Field (courtesy of Edwin Encarnacion).
Perhaps worse, Perez looked rattled on every pitch, nervously shifting around the mound like a skittish closer praying to reach the finish line without much damage inflicted. Instead, Perez blew the save, Masterson's victory and got the ball rolling for a gut-wrenching loss on Opening Day.
But this revelation is a story of triumph and overcoming adversity. On Saturday, Perez threw a perfect inning in a non-save situation. A day later, he registered his first save and protected Cleveland's first victory, while also renewing my faith in 40-plus saves for the season.
3. Yoenis Cespedes may be the West Coast version of Mark Reynolds
Cespedes's two-continent, four-game start to his MLB career was quite vexing: Three homers, four extra-base hits, seven RBIs, seven strikeouts, a .308 batting average and 1.477 OPS.
Unless we've been duped by the legitimacy of a P90X-style training video from last winter—which prompted the A's to sign him—the Cuban should finish north of 25 steals by season's end, too.
To characterize Cespedes as a Reynolds clone may be inaccurate in the batting-average realm, but I love the all-or-nothing styles of both assets. Their creative desires to make plays (if/when they get on base) can be a great source of entertainment in head-to-head leagues.
If healthy, Cespedes should have no problem playing in 145 games and logging 530 at-bats.
4. Be ready to pounce when owners give the knee-jerk boot to Lorenzo Cain
Alex Gordon (0-for-13, six strikeouts) and Nelson Cruz (1-for-10) are too established to warrant early heave-hos with mixed-league owners, but Cain might not survive another 1-for-11 week with zero stolen bases.
And from a big-picture standpoint, nothing would make me happier.
Here's how it'll go down in the next two or three days: A mixed-league owner, feeling internal pressure to pick up Chone Figgins (.412 average through four games), will suddenly abandon his/her plan to let Cain grow into a full-time role as the Royals center fielder, while riding the fantasy bench.
They'll believe Figgins can reclaim his standing as a panacea of fantasy wonderfulness at two positions, while improving on last year's .188 batting average with Seattle.
By doing so, they'll lose out on Cain's 25-steal, 82-run, .290-batting potential.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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