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10 Early Trends That Won't Continue in the AL East

Colin KennedyFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2013

10 Early Trends That Won't Continue in the AL East

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    The first month of the 2013 offered numerous unexpected results and several shocking statistics. But as is the case with any 162-game regular season, there are tons of trends that won't continue—especially in the inverted AL East. 

    The Toronto Blue Jays were preseason favorites after a heap of offseason additions. Yet they currently stand in last place. 

    The Boston Red Sox won just 69 games a season ago, and a very similar team just finished the month of April with the best record in the bigs. 

    It's nearly impossible to predict which players will experience hot starts and which pitchers will struggle to survive through the opening weeks and months of the year.

    But it might be easier to predict which of these trends won't maintain for the duration of the schedule.

    Here are a few trends in the AL East that should stutter at some point during the season. 

Yankees' Injuries

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    Entering the 2013 season, many believed that things couldn't get much worse for the New York Yankees. 

    And then they did. 

    An Opening Day lineup containing names like Vernon Wells, Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix was originally thought to be the low point for a team awaiting the return of veterans like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. 

    But talks of quick returns were silenced, and one month later, the disabled list has only expanded. 

    Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli and Ivan Nova have all added their names to the lengthy DL that makes the Houston Astros lineup card look like a minor league roster in comparison. 

    The Yankees may not be able to survive such devastating injuries the entire season, but you can bet your money that things couldn't get much worse in the Bronx. 

Clay Buchholz

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    Just one year removed from a largely mediocre season in Boston, Clay Buchholz arguably has his name atop the premature AL Cy Young award list.

    He was a perfect five for five in April, picking up wins against three of the four AL East opponents in one calendar month.

    His 1.18 ERA ranks third among all starters in baseball, and his 2.0 WAR statistic ranks behind only Matt Harvey among all qualified starting pitchers.

    Buchholz has been the ace for a Red Sox team that finished the month of April with the best record in the big leagues.

    It appears as though he has once again harnessed his control and fine-tuned his mechanics that helped make him one of the game's top prospects upon entry into the league in 2007.

    But is it feasible to suggest that Buchholz can continue at this pace given the rigors of a 162-game season in the competitive AL East? 

    We'll leave that for you to decide.

Toronto's Pitching Struggles

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    Last offseason seemed like deja vu as the Toronto Blue Jays took on many of the contracts that made the Miami Marlins a sexy preseason pick for the NL pennant in 2012. 

    But so far in 2013, the results have been eerily similar to Miami's success a season ago. 

    The additions of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and 2012 NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays made many believe that they would finish atop an abnormally weak AL East division. 

    And though the season is still young, all indications suggest that won't be the case. 

    The three former aces have a combined ERA of nearly 6.00 through the first month of the season. In 15 starts, the trio has just three wins to show for their effort. 

    As such, the Jays remain in the basement of the surprisingly successful AL East. 

    But anyone who knows the game of baseball can predict that this trend can't possibly continue. At least not at this rate. 

Matt Moore's Perfection

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    Much like Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox, Matt Moore has delivered unbelievable numbers through the first month of the season. 

    Living up to expectations, Moore is one of two pitchers with a lower ERA than the aforementioned Buchholz and has already picked up impressive wins against the Yankees, Orioles and Rangers on the young season. 

    The hard-throwing lefty has surrendered just four runs in five starts while accumulating 38 strikeouts in just 32 innings pitched. 

    His surprising production has helped compensate for David Price's slow start, and he certainly accompanies Buchholz atop the early-season Cy Young award list. 

    However, at just 23 years of age, it is unlikely that Matt Moore will be able to continue the pace he has set for himself over the course of the year. 

    Don't be surprised if Moore comes back down to earth once the weather warms and opponents get more familiar with his stuff. 

Chris Davis' Scorching Start

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    Chris Davis dominated headlines for the first week of the season when seemingly everything he hit left the ballpark in Baltimore. 

    Since, he has cooled down slightly. But his overall numbers are impressive nonetheless. 

    With a .348 AVG, nine HRs, and 28 RBI, the Orioles slugger ranks among the top 10 in nearly every major offensive category in baseball. 

    Only Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians has a higher OPS through the first month of the season and last year's triple crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, is the only player in the league with more runs batted in. 

    Despite Davis' consistency throughout the month of April, it is hard to believe he can maintain such a pace given the fact he is a career .263 hitter. 

    Once a cold streak comes, don't be surprised if Davis reverts back to his old form and accumulates a ton of strikeouts to even out his startling numbers. 

Yankees' Surprising Production

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    With the unbelievable amount of injuries to the New York Yankees roster, the casual spectator might assume that the team would be struggling to scrape together wins. 

    But thanks to unexpected production from some familiar names, New York finds themselves in second place in the competitive AL East. 

    Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have seemingly woken from the dead to start 2013. 

    Both finished April with batting averages .300 or better, and together, the two veterans have accounted for 12 HR and 30 RBI. 

    Perhaps most surprising is that Hafner has nearly matched the production of Robinson Cano in just more than half the at bats. 

    His 1.104 OPS leads the team, and the traditional power hitter has been one of the most consistent Yankees thus far. 

    Of course, such production can't be expected as the season progresses. Eventually, I expect their age to catch up with them and the return of injured players to limit their playing time. 

David Ortiz's Average

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    After missing the first 15 games of the season, David Ortiz has come on to provide the division-leading Red Sox with a friendly face and reliable bat in the lineup. 

    The sample size is small (nine games), but the numbers speak for themselves. 

    Recording at least one hit in every game, Ortiz can claim the longest active hitting streak in major league baseball dating back to last season. 

    What's more impressive is the fact that Big Papi has multiple hits in seven of his nine games played in 2013 at the age of 37. 

    With 16 years of experience under his belt, it isn't shocking that Ortiz is posting such impressive numbers through his first handful of games. 

    However, it certainly can't be expected that the Red Sox designated hitter is going to bat .500 for the duration of the season. 

J.P. Arencibia's Power

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    One of the few positives for the Toronto Blue Jays through the season's first month has been their catcher, J.P. Arencibia. 

    While Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion got off to slow starts, Arencibia accounted for a lot of the Jays' production in April. 

    His average isn't staggering (.250) but his eight HRs and 16 RBI ranked among league leaders for much of the year's early weeks. 

    Now, it appears as though Encarnacion is returning to his 2012 form, having belted seven HRs in his last seven games. 

    But while Toronto waits for Bautista to catch fire, they have their fingers crossed that Arencibia doesn't drop off. 

    My guess is that he will. 

David Price's Struggles

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    Much like R.A. Dickey, David Price has seemingly suffered a hangover from his 2012 Cy Young award winning season. 

    The long ball has been somewhat of a problem for Price in the early going, and the Rays lost all five of his first five starts. 

    A win in Chicago last week brought his record to 1-2 on the season; however, he has yet to show signs of the same form that made him the league's best pitcher just one season ago. 

    The 5.21 ERA is alarming, but perhaps more surprising is the .289 BAA that Price has experienced through his first six starts. 

    The walks are up and the strikeouts are down. His WHIP of 1.37 is nothing to brag about, and unless he makes significant changes, the Rays could be in for a long season depending on Matt Moore to be their ace. 

    There is simply no way that Price continues to struggle so mightily for the remainder of the schedule. 

Orioles Bullpen

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    Arguably the only thing in Baltimore more impressive than Chris Davis has been the back end of the Orioles bullpen. 

    Yes, the O's boasted baseball's best relief pitching in 2012, winning nearly every single close contest they competed in. 

    But did anyone think they could continue that trend? 

    So far in 2013, they have. 

    In 27.2 innings, Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day have combined to surrender just two earned runs. The closer, Johnson, has picked up 10 saves already, and only one home run has been given up between the two back-end relievers. 

    Given their success last season, this trend may be the likeliest of the bunch to hold true. 

    But one would be crazy to suggest that Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day could complete a 162-game season with numbers like these. 

    Someone check what Buck Showalter is feeding these guys!

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