Major League Baseball: Opening Day Observations
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Also known as ODOs.
Well, I call them ODOs and some day, you will too. Until then, see if you noticed what I noticed:
Albert Pujols goes 0-for-5
He also grounded into three double plays—cue the overreaction random radio show sports talk guy.
That's right, Pujols is washed up; can't handle the contract-year pressure; forgot how to hit; only tips 10 percent.
Actually, he'll be fine.
What the Cardinals, their fans and anybody else interested should be worried about is that rotation.
With Adam Wainwright down for the count, Chris Carpenter has to carry the load. Carrying the load puts a lot of pressure on your hamstrings. Considering he strained his in spring training, Carpenter is longing for someone to be close to him in the rotation.
Reliever-turned-starter Kyle McClellan has been the most buzzworthy candidate so far, but even with Dave Duncan's guidance, C.J. Wilson he ain't.
Save the Birds, Pujols! Good slogan for the Cardinals and/or tree huggers everywhere.
Matt Kemp walks three times
He's on pace for 486 bases on balls—that would be a record. It probably won't happen.
But considering he only walked 53 times last year, which was his career high, it's a good sign, nonetheless; considering he accomplished this feat against Tim Lincecum, even more nonetheless.
If I owned him in a fantasy league (huh, I do, how about that?) I'd be excited: An improved batting eye means fewer strikeouts (170 last year), which positively correlates to more balls in play (.295 BABIP last year, .344 career), which screams a stat correction is on the way.
If you watched the Reds/Brewers game you might have noticed Thomas Edinson Volquez pitching to contact.
That's a good pitching strategy, except when the contact results in a 445-foot home run.
Volquez has a ton of talent, but it seems he challenges hitters too often and studs like Ryan Braun, along with lesser studs like Rickie Weeks and wannabe studs like Carlos Gomez, make him pay.
Kevin Millar brought up this point on MLB Tonight today, which I would like to vehemently agree with and elaborate on for those that have no idea what I'm babbling about.
In the fifth inning, down 4-2, Volquez got Braun to chase his first pitch, a nasty breaking ball in the dirt.
So why in the world would he try to fool him with a fastball in on the next pitch?
Braun wasn't fooled and he crushed his first of many home runs this year.
These guys are professional hitters. Meaning, they are looking fastball in.
Throw the same pitch you just schooled them on until they adjust to it—don't try to outsmart a professional hitter. Millar said Greg Maddux would throw a changeup five, six times in a row during an at-bat.
Keep the hitter guessing.
Until Volquez can do that, he won't be consistent and he can't be relied on.
Center fielders in the outfield
The Anaheim Angels are flying a little under the radar this year. Does anybody appreciate the Angels/flying connection?
No? Well, I do and the Angels are flying under the radar.
Through one game (I know, huge sample size), the Hunter/Wells/Bourjos outfield triumvirate seems like a good idea. They have all played center field at some point in their careers (Peter Bourjos now, Torii Hunter last year, Vernon Wells for Toronto).
Traditionally, the center fielder is the most athletic player on the field, can cover the most ground and is the best fielder. Having three guys that fit that mold bodes well for the Angels' defense and their pitchers.
The focus of the AL West this year seems to be on the A's and Rangers, deservedly, but the Angels could surprise some folks.
Especially if their offense struggles to score runs, they are going to need strong defense to win those 2-1, 4-3 games.
Three center fielders should do just that.
That was your chance, dude. Opening Day, down 4-2, two on, two out, hit the home run, be the hero everyone wants you to be. Don't strike out.
Against Fernando Rodney? After you just hit a mammoth foul just left of the pole? Don't go 0-for-5. At least you hit six spring training homers.
Jake Fox would be proud.
Six games down, 2,424 to go. Should be fun. Make sure to take advantage of the free week of MLB Extra Innings.
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