What Do We Know So Far
I’m not of the school that believes the first week of May is still “too early” to make some conclusions about players and teams. I think we have a good enough sample size to guide us for the remainder of the big league baseball season. Here are some of my thoughts so far:
The main difference I see so far in Bryce Harper is much improved patience at the plate. He is recognizing pitches very well and has concluded that a walk is as good as a hitter and better than striking out. I liked everything about Harper when I first saw him play in the 2010 Arizona Fall League. He’s an amazing athlete, and at the age of 22 the baseball sky is his limit. I love watching him play.
Those that follow me regularly know that I preach patience with young players. I always say it take two to three Major League seasons to learn how to play among the greatest players in the world. However, Kris Bryant has shown an ability that defies his rookie status. He lays off “pitcher’s pitches” and is willing to accept a walk. He isn’t always looking to hit the ball over the wall-he is well aware the home runs will come. But his plate discipline is remarkable.
We are seeing an entirely new crop of fantastic starting pitchers emerge before our eyes. Consider the future of Matt Harvey. He is pitching as though he never missed a start. But remember, this young man is returning from Tommy John surgery and blowing away hitters. And I really do like the Astros Dallas Keuchel. He’s a ground ball machine. And no, I’m not surprised at the great start for the Yankees Michael Pineda, even though he’s coming off shoulder issues. 16 strikeouts in seven innings. Yikes.
Conversely, I can’t help be concerned about Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. I’m just sayin’. In Kluber’s case, I think he really misses catcher Yan Gomes, out with an injury for a little while longer.
Are there any doubters remaining regarding the value and ability of Nelson Cruz? I do think he’ll go through a cold streak, but man…when he hits em, they’re gone. Even in Seattle.
I’ll say it again-some American League club (like Cleveland) needs to trade for Wilin Rosario. He’s warming the bench in Colorado because of poor footwork as a catcher and as a first baseman. But as a designated hitter? The role is made for him.
I’m a huge—and I mean huge Stephen Vogt fan. The Athletics have a gem. His bat and ability to call a good game allowed the club to shed both Derek Norris and John Jaso. Jaso is a long way from returning from the disabled list.
There is a lengthy list of teams that have laid an egg so far. They include the White Sox, the Indians, the Brewers, the Mariners, the Orioles, the Red Sox, the Marlins, the Blue Jays and to some extent the Nationals. Each has played worse than expected. But for every egg cracked, an omelet has been created. Enter the Astros, the Twins, the Yankees and the Rays. I can’t put the Mets in that category, as I expected them to be good. Same for the Cardinals, Tigers and the Dodgers.
In March I had grave concerns about the Red Sox pitching. I have even greater concerns now. And I never bought the Indians as a contender because of their pitching-pitching that everyone thought would be so great. The back end of the rotation was a concern and remains so. It will be very difficult for the White Sox and Indians to dig themselves out of the holes they created while losing so many games within their division.
I don’t get it. The Blue Jays were really, really excited about the rookies they broke camp with in April. Then, in less than a month they jettisoned a couple to the Minor Leagues. Talk about a quick hook.
Think success isn’t fleeting? Exhibit No. 1. Allen Craig. The same Allen Craig who was a hero in St. Louis is now playing in Triple-A.
I’m a huge Eddie Rosario fan and I hope the Twins give him a chance to play. Not just a game a week, but a spot in their lineup. The man can flat out hit.
How about the start for the Rockies D J LeMahieu. One of the guys I loved coming out of Spring Training.
When do the Astros promote Carlos Correa? With the team playing well and looking at the playoffs as a real possibility and with shortstop Jed Lowrie hurt, is he a viable option. Yes.
When do the Indians promote Francisco Lindor? With the team in the dumper and the shortstop not hitting and carrying six errors on his current resume, is he a viable option. Even though he isn’t hitting at Columbus, my answer is…yes, without a doubt.
But we probably won’t see either of them until June at the earliest.
I find it almost amusing the Diamondbacks are realizing they need a catcher. And to solve their offensive problems at the catching positions they have signed…wait for it… Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a Minor League contract. Something tells me he’ll be wearing a big league uniform by June at the latest. Talk me off the ledge here, friends. What am I not seeing in this picture?
I’ll be writing Part Two of What We Know So Far in the near future.
Thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Much appreciated.
That’s it. I’m Done.