By: Grayson Schmidt
More than any other sport, baseball is a sport of patience. This holds true as a player, and as a fan. 162 games is a long (almost too long) season and since we are only two weeks in, overreaction should be kept to a minimum. Baseball is a streaky game and a team dominating or struggling after only playing around 12 games is no cause for panic. However, I do feel as if the past 14 days have shown us a lot about our own expectations. So I am here to simply make observations and point out who is for real, who the surprises are, and who needs to step up their game.
Rough Start in the City of Angels
Probably the biggest off-season acquisition was the Angels signing former Texas All-Star Josh Hamilton and how a lineup that consisted of him, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols would be unstoppable. But after dishing out a five-year $125 million contract for Hamilton, he and the rest of the Angels for that matter are not off to the start everyone had anticipated. Right now they are last in the AL West with a 3-8 record. Hamilton is batting a sub-par .186 with five RBIs and one home run, while Trout is .269 with two RBIs and one home run. Pujols is putting up solid numbers with a .324 average, seven RBIs and two home runs, as is Trumbo batting .298 with seven RBIs and one home run. What seems to be killing them is the inconsistent production of their high-priced talent, along with a short staffed pitching rotation as ace Jered Weaver is out for up to five more weeks with a fractured left elbow. With that injury, the only other go-to pitcher in that rotation is C.J. Wilson who has not done bad boasting a 14 strikeouts and a 1-0 record, but he also has a 4.00 ERA. Injuries will heal and slumps will happen so the Angels do not appear in to be in too much trouble yet. That lineup is too talented (and expensive) to not produce all year.
No Sophomore Slump for Harper
Two big questions coming into this season were, will the two rookie sensations of last season repeat or will they both experience sophomore slumps? Both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are good enough players that a slump was probably not going to happen this year (precisely why I took both of them for my fantasy team) but it was Harper who put the whole “sophomore slump” theory to rest on opening day. The 20 year-old Nationals star launched two home runs in his first two at bats April 1st against the Marlins. Since then he has gone yard three more times and is batting .348 with 10 RBIs and 14 hits. Now Trout is not off to the same start as Harper but is also not in a terrible slum; as mentioned above he’s batting .269 with two RBIs and one home run. Whether or not arriving at camp around 55-20 pounds heavier than last season is having an effect on him is not for me to say. But for now it is not a time to worry as both sophomores will finish the year with respectable numbers.
Breakout in the Bay
As the Giants have won the World Series in the past two out of three years, naturally they are the story in the Bay Area. This especially holds true since they are doing as expected by starting the season atop the NL West with a 9-4 record. But probably the biggest surprise out of that team is the resurgence of Barry Zito. So far he has pitched14 innings earning eight strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA. Granted his first two starts were against Colorado and St. Louis, not exactly offensive juggernauts. So the question still remains as to how he will do against some of the better hitting teams in the league such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Washington. But since Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum have been the big-name pitchers in San Francisco for the past few years, it is nice to see Zito resemble the pitcher he was in Oakland 9 years ago.
Speaking of Oakland, let us take a look at the news across the bay. The A’s are off to a 9-4 start and are currently first in the AL West. This is especially surprising as their biggest names are Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes (to which some may be saying, who?). Right now they lead the MLB in runs (73), RBIs (70), and total bases (208). If this tells us anything it is to never underestimate Mr. Billy Beane and his band of no-names and has-beens because in the end, they get results.