Baseball, Fantasy, MLB, Uncategorized

1 Month into the MLB season, what do we know?

We’re almost to mid-May and baseball season is in full swing. There have been surprises from across the land with the Pittsburgh Pirates currently sitting atop the NL Central and the Baltimore Orioles were quick to 20 wins this season and pushing the likes of the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox down the AL East division board. We’ve seen some close no-hitters and a flirt with a perfect game but the bats are swinging big all the while we’re getting looks at some of the best young arms in the minors.

So what do we know?

  1. The Rays are serious contenders and one of the top organizations in all of baseball. Year in and year out the Rays put together competitive clubs and have been to 2 World Series in the last 15 years, with the last one being in 2020. This year is a little special as they’ve been, once again, getting production from people who aren’t household names.
    • Wander Franco is a known name for people who follow prospects and Rays fans. Last year’s #1 prospect in baseball has been on a tear this year, posting a slash line of .310/.365/.556. He’s hit 7 HRs with 22 RBIs and 9 Stolen Bases to add. He’s been sensational and there’s no doubt his production in the middle of the lineup is beneficial to the club.
    • Randy Arozarena – anyone who watched the 2020 Playoffs, World Series, or WBC knows exactly how much fun Arozarena is to watch when things are going well. Last year was a down year and a bit of a disappointment given the level of production he’s capable of producing. He’s improved his slash rate from .263/.327/.445 to .321/.396/.575 from last season with 9 bops and 30 RBIs to boot. The combo of Franco and Arozarena have been the catalyst for a lineup that gets a little weird after them.
    • Harold Ramirez – for a guy that’s been on 3 teams in 5 years and hasn’t produced a +100 wRC+ until last year, this year’s production has been a little bit of a shocker. .319/.379/.585 with a 171 wRC+ almost feels unsustainable right now but maybe he can keep this up. When opposing pitchers look at the lineup it’s hard to pick and choose because just about everyone can rake.
    • Josh Lowe – Josh Lowe’s production this year makes me a little saddened that I dropped him last year to clear roster space for the playoff run but I didn’t see this start coming. .312/.373/.624 with 7 HRs/20 RBIs/6 Bags is almost replicable from what he did last year in AAA. He’s been a pretty solid bat in the minors for them so it’s good to see him improve on last year’s MLB outing.
    • I have to shout out Yandy Diaz (.312/.424/.568 and 9 homers) as well as Taylor Walls (.265/.365/.542 and 20 runs with 6 hrs and 6 sbs) but it’s the pitching that sets them apart from many other high scoring teams. The team as a whole is leading the MLB in ERA (2.97), Shutouts (7), Opponents batting average (.210) while also being 2nd in WHIP (1.27)
    • The Rays are outpacing all of baseball right now and only time will tell if they will run away with the division or not but we know 1 thing is for certain and that is the Rays will be in contention come October and they could very well be considered the best all-around team in baseball.
  2. The AL East is the Best division. Before the season, I thought maybe the NL East could push for that title because I didn’t foresee the Red Sox having a good season. All AL East teams are currently over .500 with the LAST PLACE YANKEES currently sitting at 21-17. All have positive Run Differentials on the year ranging from +116 to +15. They scored 977 runs as a whole.
    • For Reference, the NL East has 4 teams with negative run differentials and the 2nd place Marlins are sitting at 19-19. So yeah, not even the best division in the NL. That goes to the NL West
  3. The NL West is competitive again. If you asked many people how the NL West would unfold many would’ve had Dodgers/Padres followed by the Giants, maybe Rockies, and then the Diamondbacks. So, it’s a little incredible the D-Backs were leading the charge out west for so long. They may not be built to stay but I’m sure the Padres needed a gut punch or two and the Giants maybe can get a wake up call and start running some wins off. However, right now it’s looking like the Dodgers have got things going again and will win the division but it’s nice to see SOME parity and maybe someone can dethrone the major spenders out in LA.
  4. Young guys are coming for jobs. Baseball is competitive all around and getting to see young guys called up sooner rather than later has been enjoyable. The Braves have had a number of young guys like Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd get some big league action as well as guys like Tanner Bibee (CLE, P), Mason Miller (OAK, P), with Eury Perez (MIA, P) making his debut Friday May 11th as the youngest pitcher in Marlins history. Having guys get to the majors earlier can be different for everyone’s development but getting the looks and having guys actually be exciting to watch so young is a breath of fresh air and create opportunities for themselves down the line.
  5. Finally, Baseball is fun again! The rule changes have been for the better. Quicker pace of games creates faster game times and no longer do the majority of games seem to drag on.
    • Maybe it’s worth looking at the numbers to see how it’s effected the run totals and hits but I’m happy about the pitch clock. Too many guys were taking FOREVER to get in the box or even start their motion and agree on pitch selection. It really allows for guys who have a “feel” for situational gameplay to flourish and others are needing to devise better gameplans to accommodate for on the fly decision-making. It’s not perfect but it has definitely helped the entertainment value.
    • The bases being bigger is my favorite rule change this year. Steal numbers are popping, which is fun, but the best part of the bag size is safety. It feels like there were a number of instances where pitchers covering first were close to getting hurt from the runner or double plays where the space looked congested and, sometimes, dangerous. This should give ample space for everyone to be able to fluidly make transitions and baseball plays without threat of injury. Overall, which will make for a prettier game visually.

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