5 Trends That Have Dominated the Early MLB Season

Zak SchmollAnalyst IMay 11, 2013

5 Trends That Have Dominated the Early MLB Season

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    With just over a month of the Major League Baseball season behind us, it is time to take a little bit of a step back and see what has been happening.

    Are there trends that are beginning to develop? Have they been surprising?

    I would contend that there are five things that have been especially prevalent this season. Some of them are team accomplishments while others are individual, and some of them are incredibly positive while others are not so hot.

    That being said, all of these trends can turn around. This season is young, but keep your eyes on these tendencies.

New Homes are Good Homes

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    Justin Upton came to the Atlanta Braves over the winter, and he is now leading all of MLB with 12 home runs.

    Mark Reynolds is right behind him with 11 home runs, and he signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians.

    Incidentally, there are four players tied at 10 home runs, and one of them is John Buck of the New York Mets. Again, he was a trade acquisition over the winter.

    For some reason, it seems as if many players who moved over the winter are having great campaigns in 2013. Obviously, these three are rather obvious examples, but other guys like Michael Morse, Shin-Soo Choo and Yuniesky Betancourt are looking particularly strong.

    On the offensive side of the ball, 2013 is looking like a pretty good year for the new guys.

Strength Behind the Plate

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    Catchers seem to be having a great time hammering the ball in 2013.

    Newcomer Evan Gattis made the Atlanta Braves miss the injured Brian McCann a little bit less.

    Carlos Santana is hitting well over .300, and the Cleveland Indians have been benefiting from his run production (16 RBI).

    Other hitters like Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters and Joe Mauer are having their typically strong campaigns, and it seems as though it is a good time to be a backstop.

Radical Spending Doesn’t Seem to Work

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    This is a very targeted slide. I am looking directly at the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

    Obviously, with new ownership, the Los Angeles Dodgers made major moves last season at the trade deadline and over the winter to compete for the top of the National League West. They are in last place.

    The Toronto Blue Jays decided that it was finally time to spend a lot of money and try to keep up with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. They are in last place.

    The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim brought in Josh Hamilton to complement their star-studded batting order and stick it to the Texas Rangers. They are near the bottom of the division, and the Rangers are in first.

    Obviously, only using three teams creates a small sample size, but it is very interesting nonetheless.

The Stolen Base Is a Dying Art

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    Right now, there are only five players who have double-digit stolen bases. We are more than one-fifth of the way through the season. That means that there are only five players who are on pace to even approach 50 stolen bases.

    As power becomes more and more important, the risky nature of stealing bases has become less important. It is perceived to be more important to have runners on base for the big home run hitters.

    The five men in double digits are not necessarily surprising: Jacoby Ellsbury, Juan Pierre, Nate McLouth, Everth Cabrera and Starling Marte.

    Maybe this will pick up as the season goes on, but as of right now, people are not as aggressive on the basepaths as they might be.

It Pays to Start in St. Louis

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    The St. Louis Cardinals have five starting pitchers. The highest ERA carried by any of these men is 2.72 by Lance Lynn.

    Of course, there are a few surprises in this bunch.

    Jake Westbrook actually has the best ERA in the rotation at 1.62. This number might be a little bit optimistic only because opponents are hitting .275 against him, but that is still an impressive number that ranks him seventh in all of Major League Baseball.

    Shelby Miller had big shoes to fill after he joined the rotation upon the departure of winning machine Kyle Lohse. At the moment, he is averaging over a strikeout per inning and is off to a great start.

    The St. Louis Cardinals are hot, and their rotation has a lot to do with that.

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