1 Early Overreaction Each MLB Fanbase Should Resist Making
Most of what’s happened in the first week of the Major League Baseball season should be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t jump to conclusions and overreact.
Every team has played at least six games and some have played seven. That’s roughly four percent of the 162-game year. There are still too many games to be played that will decide the outcome at the end of the year. Six games probably aren’t going to make much of a difference.
Players who just signed big deals over the offseason shouldn’t be scrutinized just yet. The same goes for teams that completed major trades. What about players who are having uncharacteristic starts, both good and bad? Don’t even think about it.
Here is an overreaction that each fanbase should refrain from making this early because it’s just too early in the year to make anything of it yet.
All statistics in this article were obtained via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.
Overreaction: Chris Davis for MVP
Chris Davis is not God’s gift to baseball. The Baltimore Orioles first baseman has had a great start to the year, but it’s only been a couple of games. The four home runs that he’s hit are definitely impressive, but he still has a long way to go before he does anything crazy.
As I outlined Monday, Davis is one of the examples of a player that got off on the right foot but is unlikely to sustain this type of success throughout the entire year. If Davis has 30 home runs and 80 RBI at the All-Star break, then we’ll start talking about how fantastic he is. For now, though, let’s see how he does in the second week of the year.
Boston Red Sox
Overreaction: Mike Napoli Stinks
In hopes of improving off of the last two seasons and without a first baseman, the Boston Red Sox signed Mike Napoli over the winter. Although Napoli has shown great power the last few seasons, he hasn’t been very consistent from the plate in terms of getting hits.
A hip condition was thought to eventually plague Napoli, but thus far, there hasn’t been anything that would suggest it’s becoming an issue. Napoli, however, hasn’t played well at all this year and is 6-for-31 with a pair of home runs, 10 strikeouts and no walks. He’s still finding his stroke at the plate and there’s no need to worry since he was never one to hit for average even before he signed with the Red Sox.
New York Yankees
Overreaction: Travis Hafner is Back
Travis Hafner hasn’t played in more than 120 games since 2007. The last two seasons, he hasn’t even hit the 100-game mark, but this year could be different. Hafner signed with the New York Yankees over the offseason and has been in the regular lineup due to a large variety of injuries.
Thus far, Hafner has absolutely made the most of the opportunity. Through seven games, Hafner is hitting .391/.481/.652 with a pair of home runs, six RBI and six runs. He’s drawn four walks while striking out seven times. He’s off to an improbable start, to say the least, but there’s still plenty of season left. The chances he hits more than 25 home runs are still very slim.
Tampa Bay Rays
Overreaction: David Price Has Lost It
David Price is not only one of the best pitchers in the AL East, but he's arguably one of the best in all of baseball. To start 2013, though, he has pitched like one of the worst. Through a pair of starts, he’s allowed 10 earned runs on 17 hits in 11 innings of work. What’s a little surprising is that he only has seven strikeouts, considering he’s usually a big K guy.
But Price’s stats are still a little deceiving. He pitched fairly well against a worthy opponent in the Baltimore Orioles. He then just had a bad day against the Cleveland Indians, who are also expected to be relatively good this season.
Price won the AL Cy Young last season for a reason. He’s more than capable of putting one bad start behind him. Consider the Cleveland game a fluke instead of the start of a trend.
Toronto Blue Jays
Overreaction: 2012 Edwin Encarnacion is Gone
Last season, Edwin Encarnacion put together a fantastic season for the Toronto Blue Jays. In 151 games, he hit .280/.384/.557 with 42 home runs, 110 RBI and 93 runs. It would be tough to top or even match that type of production in 2013, but there’s still plenty of time. He hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, though.
Through six games, he only has two hits in 23 at-bats. He has hit one ball out of the park and driven in just a trio of runs. To say that he’s already in a bit of a slump would be an understatement. But Encarnacion is bound to get going sooner rather than later. He’s in a lineup with a bunch of talented hitters. Once he gets going, so will the Blue Jays.
Chicago White Sox
Overreaction: Paul Konerko is Done
Paul Konerko has been rock solid for a long period of time while playing for the Chicago White Sox. Eventually, though, he’s going to start wearing down and his production will diminish. The only thing that’s unclear is when that’ll be.
From the looks of things, that could be this season, where Konerko has gotten off to a very slow start.
A career .282/.359/.498 hitter, Konerko has struggled mightily from the plate through Chicago’s first handful of games. In five games, the slugger has just two hits in 20 at-bats, which includes a double and one RBI. He’s struck out twice while walking once. Those aren’t the types of numbers that the White Sox are accustomed to. Five games is much too small of a sample size to be concerned about, though.
Overreaction: Nick Swisher was a Poor Signing
The Cleveland Indians did pretty much everything in their power to boost their roster. Of the trades and free-agent signings they completed, Nick Swisher was signed to be the everyday first baseman. Swisher has been great the last few years, playing for the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics.
But to start his career with Cleveland, Swisher hasn’t been great. He’s hitting just .200/.375/.240 through seven games with one extra-base hit, three runs and seven strikeouts.
On the plus side, however, he has walked seven times. The Indians don’t have much of a shot in the AL Central if Swisher doesn’t start hitting, but there’s no reason to doubt he won’t break out of this slump relatively soon.
Overreaction: Victor Martinez Won’t Bounce Back
The Detroit Tigers definitely missed Victor Martinez in 2012, as he was forced to miss the entire season after injuring his knee over the offseason. Now healthy, Martinez is ready to try and replicate all of the success he had with Detroit back in 2011, his first year with the club. That year, he hit .330/.380/.470 with 12 home runs and 103 RBI.
Martinez hasn’t looked like that guy yet, though. In six games and 21 at-bats, the switch-hitter has just three hits and one RBI. He’s struck out three times and walked three times as well. Needless to say, he’s been a non-factor for the Tigers so far. Martinez might need some extra time to get going again, taking into consideration that he did miss an entire year. Rarely will you see a player bounce back immediately after missing that kind of time.
Kansas City Royals
Overreaction: Wil Myers Trade is a Failure
Over the offseason, the Kansas City Royals felt that it would be beneficial to trade the top prospect in the organization, Wil Myers. In exchange for the young outfielder, the Royals picked up solid starting pitching from the Tampa Bay Rays. At the time, acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis looked like good return for Myers, but it hasn’t panned out yet.
Shields has started a pair of games for the Royals and has allowed five earned runs through 12 innings for a 3.75 ERA. Davis, however, allowed four earned runs on nine hits and lasted just four innings in his first start of the year. Kansas City is expecting big things from this duo but hasn’t got much in return. It’s tough to judge a trade, however, after just three starts.
Overreaction: Aaron Hicks is a Bust
There isn’t much to look forward to this season if you’re a Minnesota Twins fan, expect for the development of rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks. Hicks, one of the top prospects in the organization, is finally getting his shot in the majors after the Twins traded both Ben Revere and Denard Span over the offseason, which opened up a slot.
Before the season even started, Hicks was predicted to be one of the contenders for the AL Rookie of the Year. Hicks, however, has looked lost at the plate through seven games. He has just a pair of hits in 30 at-bats while striking out 13 times. Maybe Minnesota called him up too early, but not every All-Star played like one through their first seven games. Hicks is going to need some time to get acclimated.
Overreaction: It’s Still Early
The Houston Astros have one thing this season to be proud of: They won the first game of the season over the Texas Rangers. But that’s the only thing they’ve done right through the first week of the season. Although Astros fans might look at their team’s 1-6 record and think that there’s still plenty of time to bounce back, that won’t happen this year.
The Astros are comprised of hitters and pitchers that don’t all belong in the major leagues. Houston has scored just 17 runs through seven games, which is the least in the AL and the fourth fewest in baseball. On the other hand, they’ve allowed the second-most runs in MLB. There may be 155 games left on the schedule for the Astros, but the season is pretty much over already.
Los Angeles Angels
Overreaction: Josh Hamilton Won’t Hit
The Los Angeles Angels managed to land the top free agent on the market this offseason, prying Josh Hamilton away from the rival Texas Rangers. Hamilton has been an MVP candidate the last couple of years and the contract he signed shows what the Angels think he’s capable of accomplishing with them.
Hamilton, however, has had a poor start to his Angels career.
The Angels have played six games and through those six games, Hamilton has been the team’s worst regular hitter. He has four hits in 25 at-bats and an ugly line of .160/.276/.200 to start the season. What’s somewhat concerning is that he’s already struck out 10 times. The Angels, though, have faced some tough pitching and it’s only a matter of time before Hamilton starts crushing balls left and right.
Overreaction: Yoenis Cespedes Was a One-Hit Wonder
Yoenis Cespedes put on a show for Oakland Athletics fans last season, his first year in the league. In 129 games, he hit .292/.356/.505 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI. He was a major reason why Oakland was able to fight all the way back to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. So what’s in store for Cespedes after having a year of experience under his belt?
Well, apparently not good things. Cespedes hasn’t looked close to the same player we saw play last season. In seven games and 25 at-bats this year, he has only a trio of hits, three runs, five RBI and nine strikeouts.
Is this the start of a massive sophomore slump? No, it isn’t. He was a proven hitter in Cuba and doesn’t project to have a down year. Cespedes will get going, eventually.
Overreaction: No One Will Hit
The Seattle Mariners did a lot of work over the winter with the hopes of contending within the AL West. They traded for a bunch of players, including Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, while also signing free agents to play specific roles this season. But while the focus over the offseason was improving the offense, the offense hasn’t shown up just yet.
Through the first eight games of the season, Seattle only has a couple of players that look awake at the plate. Morales has been good and so have Michael Saunders and Morse, but aside from that, it’s been a disaster. The Mariners have seven hitters batting less than .200 on the year despite playing somewhat regularly. Someone is bound to catch fire soon.
Overreaction: Matt Harrison Won’t Rebound
Over the last two seasons, Matt Harrison has been a very valuable pitcher for the Texas Rangers. In 2012, he went 18-11 and posted a 3.29 ERA across 213.1 innings of work. He’d finally found his groove and his numbers show how successful he’s been. But through a pair of starts in 2013, Harrison hasn’t looked good at all and Texas fans might be concerned.
Harrison started off the year by allowing five earned runs in 5.2 innings to the Houston Astros, picking up the loss. Then, he gave up an additional five earned runs in five innings to the Los Angeles Angels. In total, he has an 8.44 ERA and seven walks in 10.2 innings. Harrison was bound to pitch poorly for a pair of games at some point during the year. It just so happens that it was the first two times he took the mound.
Overreaction: Jason Heyward Won’t Break Slump
While the Atlanta Braves look to be turning into the next best thing in baseball, not everyone on the team has shined. Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman have been big parts of the team’s early success. But Jason Heyward, who is one of the top up-and-coming stars in the game, has been more of a liability for the Braves than an asset.
Of any player on the Braves with at least 10 at-bats thus far, Heyward has the fewest number of hits with two. He’s hitting .083/.267/.208 with one home run, four RBI and seven strikeouts. Is this the same guy that hit .269/.335/.479 with 27 home runs and 82 RBI last season?
Yes, it is. Heyward isn’t going to hit poorly the entire year. Let’s see how he hits in the next seven games before we jump to conclusions after his future.
Overreaction: Even Giancarlo Stanton is Bad
The Miami Marlins are doomed this season. They traded away a large portion of their payroll from last season and their record will reflect how bad they truly are in 2013. But even after the chaos this winter, the Marlins still held onto Giancarlo Stanton, who’s one of the best hitters in baseball. Stanton, however, has no protection in the lineup.
Opposing pitchers no longer have to throw him pitches down the pipe since no one of note is hitting behind him. Through seven games, Stanton is 4-for-23 with 11 strikeouts. He’s yet to hit a ball out of the park, which is a little uncharacteristic of him. Stanton probably won’t be as good as he’s been this season considering the weak lineup, but he should still end the season with at least 30 long balls and 85 RBI.
New York Mets
Overreaction: John Buck for MVP
Who needs Travis d’Arnaud when you have John Buck? That’s what New York Mets fans are probably saying to themselves right now. Buck has come out of nowhere to start the season, hitting .275/.270/.792 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He’s been unstoppable in the New York lineup, which has some people thinking that this streak of success could actually continue.
Unfortunately for Mets fans, it won’t continue. Buck is far from an MVP candidate. He’s a career .236/.300/.408 hitter that does have some power, but he's not an impact player. He’s never driven in more than 66 runs despite getting considerable time in the past. He’s only struck out three times this year, but just wait until he starts getting mowed down every fourth at-bat, like his career average suggests he will.
Overreaction: Cole Hamels Can’t Pitch
Heading into 2013, the Philadelphia Phillies knew they would have some issues. Roy Halladay had a concerning spring and it was unsure as to how he’d pitch once the season started. While Halladay has continued to pitch poorly, the Phillies also have another starting pitcher to worry about: left-hander Cole Hamels.
Hamels was projected to lead this rotation after sustaining success the last handful of seasons. But through two starts, Hamels has allowed 13 earned runs on 16 hits across 10.2 innings of work. That works out to a staggering 10.97 ERA. He has struggled with command at times but has really just been getting hit hard. He needs one good start to get back on track.
Overreaction: Dan Haren is Horrible
With Edwin Jackson hitting free agency after the 2012 season, the Washington Nationals needed someone to fill in the No. 4 spot in the starting rotation. Washington decided to go with veteran right-hander Dan Haren. With the Angels last season, Haren went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 176.2 innings of work. He’s pitched much better than that previously, though.
Haren was an absolute disaster in his Washington debut. He only lasted four innings after giving up six earned runs on nine hits. The one good part is that he didn’t walk anyone. The really bad part is that he served up four home runs.
Nationals fans shouldn’t freak out just yet about Haren. He just made a couple of bad pitches and the opposition made him pay.
Overreaction: Carlos Marmol’s Career is Over
It’s completely understandable that Chicago Cubs fans dislike Carlos Marmol. He’s been all over the place in the past and it seems to be quite the trend. In four appearances this season, Marmol has managed to allow five earned runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings while also losing his job as the closer of the Cubs. But he’s not done just yet.
While Marmol isn’t the closer anymore, that may be the best thing for him. Actually, the best thing for his future would be to send him to the minors to work on his mechanics and confidence on the mound, two things he’s certainly lacked. If Chicago decides to rework the way he pitches, there’s still a chance he makes a full recovery. The guy just needs some help.
Overreaction: Joey Votto Won’t Break Slump
Joey Votto is, without a doubt, one of the top hitters in the game. He’s proven himself time and time again from the plate, hitting with plenty of consistency and a ton of power. He’s hit over .300 in all but one of this major league seasons and the one year he didn’t, he hit .297, which is close enough for me. The problem is that he’s been nonexistent this season.
It appears that Votto is going up the plate and just doesn’t want to swing. The guy has drawn 10 walks this season, by far the most the on the Cincinnati Reds. In the times that he has swung and actually made contact, the ball hasn’t gone very far. He’s hitting .240/.472/.320 with a triple through seven games. It’s not time to panic yet, though, Reds fans. You need to have faith in your best player. Keep reminding yourself it’s been seven games.
Overreaction: Yovani Gallardo’s Poor Start will Continue
Yovani Gallardo was supposed to be one of the players the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t have to worry about this season. He’s been very consistent over the last four seasons and has won at least 16 games while tossing at least 200 innings in each of the last two. Although his walk rate is somewhat high, he’s still a top-tier pitcher in the game.
Gallardo hasn’t looked good at all in his first two starts of the 2013 season, though. He gave up three earned runs on 10 hits through five innings in his first outing and four runs on nine hits in six innings in his second.
Basically, he’s giving up a ton of hits that the opposition is turning into runs. Gallardo just needs to focus on hitting his spots and he’ll be just fine.
Overreaction: Andrew McCutchen Won’t Start Hitting
If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to contend within the NL Central this season, they’re going to need the usual from Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen, one of the best overall players in baseball, has gotten better and better with each additional year of experience, and he’s poised to have a monster 2013.
But McCutchen hasn’t really gotten going just yet. Through seven games, he’s hitting .261/.333/.522 with four extra-base hits, six RBI and six strikeouts. Those numbers seem to mirror what McCutchen did back in 2011, which was a good but not outstanding campaign. All McCutchen needs is to string together a couple of good games to get back on track toward finishing another season hitting above .300.
St. Louis Cardinals
Overreaction: Matt Holliday Won’t Start Hitting
The St. Louis Cardinals need a big year from Matt Holliday if they’re going to go head-to-head with the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central crown. Holliday has been as consistent as anyone over the course of his career. Last season, he finished the year hitting .295/.379/.497, which is below his career average but certainly not very far off.
This season, though, Holliday has been considerably worse. He’s hitting just .200/.333/.360 through six games and has just a pair of extra-base hits. But looking at his career numbers, Holliday always plays somewhat poorly in April. This season happens to be a little worse than how he usually plays in baseball’s first month, but he should step his game up the season goes on.
Overreaction: Gerardo Parra Is a Star
Gerardo Parra has done a great job stepping in for injured outfielders Cody Ross and Adam Eaton to start the season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Parra wasn’t even likely to be a starting outfielder, but the injuries gave him the opportunity to do so. Thus far, he’s really taken advantage of it, hitting .364/.417/.636 with six extra-base hits and five runs.
But as I talked about on Monday, Parra’s hot start is bound to cool off in the near future.
Once Ross and Eaton return, it’s unlikely that Parra will continue playing regularly. In that scenario, he’d be the first guy off the bench as the fourth outfielder. Not playing on a daily basis definitely isn’t going to help Parra’s cause, but that’s just the nature of the game.
Overreaction: We’ll Win the NL West
The Colorado Rockies haven’t had a winning season since 2010 and haven’t made the postseason since 2009. This season, they seem determined to make it back into the playoffs, as they’ve been playing extremely well through the first week of the regular season. At the moment, they’re tied for the division lead with the Arizona Diamondbacks at 5-2.
But there’s absolutely no way that this run continues for Colorado.
The NL West is one of the toughest divisions to win, with a trio of legitimate contenders. The Rockies don’t have the best lineup in baseball and have one of the worst starting rotations you’ll come across. They may have won five of seven to start the year, but no one will be surprised when they win just two of their next seven.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Overreaction: Carl Crawford is Back
Carl Crawford had a pathetic two-year career with the Boston Red Sox, mainly because he was injured for a majority of the time. Before coming to Boston, Crawford was the star of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise. Once with the Red Sox, he looked like a completely different player—a guy who had no idea how to play baseball. Now, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers’ chance with him.
It looks as if Crawford is back to his regular self this season. He’s batting .450/.500/.550 in six games with five runs and a pair of doubles. Crawford is going to have to continue hitting like he used to for much longer than six games to convince people that he’s actually healthy and capable of playing at an All-Star level. He’s off to a great start, but he hasn’t accomplished that much yet.
San Diego Padres
Overreaction: Edinson Volquez Continues to Stink
Edinson Volquez has been all over the place over the course of his career. But I don’t mean in terms of switching teams—just very inconsistent from year to year.
He went 17-6 back in 2008 but has missed time each year since leading up to last season, when he went 11-11 in his first season with the San Diego Padres. His career would suggest and injury-plagued 2013, but so far, he’s still healthy.
Volquez, however, hasn’t pitched very well at all to start the year. He allowed six earned runs in three innings to the New York Mets and four earned runs in six innings to the Colorado Rockies, two teams that are projected to be quite poor in 2013. Although he struggled against New York and Colorado, let’s give him five more starts before Padres fans begin to panic.
San Francisco Giants
Overreaction: Brandon Belt Can’t Hit
Brandon Belt is going to be one of the coolest stories in baseball this season, no matter how the regular season plays out.
He hasn’t lived up to his fullest potential just yet, but he still has a lot to offer in the future. He’s an intriguing case, though, because he had a crazy spring training. In 24 games, he hit .410/.432/.833 with eight home runs and 19 RBI.
So does spring training success mean regular-season success? It’s still very early, but Belt’s numbers are saying no. Belt has just two hits in his first 17 at-bats of the year and neither one has gone for extra bases.
So how does the spring’s top hitter get off to a bad start? Well, streaks are very random. Although he’s in a slump now, he can turn it around in the blink of an eye.