Most of you know me as Jeffrey Lin, a mild mannered sports fan, which is the mask I wear most of the year, but when baseball season rolls around I don a completely new persona, and this one comes with a crown. I have been told that I tend to react too intensely in certain situations, and this quality is supremely evident in a game that requires huge sample sizes to truly evaluate what is happening. I have decided to accept this fact and embrace the title and the lofty position of being: The King of Overreaction!
The King of Overreaction is here and already in midseason form as two of his ten playoff teams have started 0-3 and a few players that were on watch list have stumbled out of the gate. The King is not an eternal pessimist (although it may feel that way at times, especially during the dog days of summer), as seen in his delight in a couple of surprise undefeated teams and with his thoughts on the dominance of the defending champs. Let’s take a look at what the King saw this past week and what he will be looking forward to this week.
The four teams that have no wins after completing their first series of the year are the Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. Now the first team on that list was expected to struggle to score runs this season by many pundits, however the other three teams were expected by many to contend all year for a playoff spot. Now the Red Sox and Yanks both played against supposedly strong teams to open the year so excusing their small road bump may be the logical conclusion. However being the King of Overreaction I have a completely different take away from this weekend of woe from the two AL East powerhouses. The Yankees have a great Ace and back end of the bullpen, but what’s in between? I have serious questions about their starting rotation after CC, who struggled against the Rays, which could make getting the ball to David Robertson and the greatest closer of all time a major issue for the men in pinstripes. The Red Sox on paper have a strong 1-2-3 in their starting rotation, but aside for Lester, who was able to fight through some shaky situations to come out with a strong outing, those guys got hammered by the Tigers. The Red Sox also do not have the luxury of Robertson and Rivera at the back end of their bullpen; they instead have a couple of guys who managed to blow multiple run leads twice in one game! All that being said, the team I’m most concerned about is the Braves. Their offense was just putrid and it looks like they haven’t gotten over what ailed them in their collapse last September. On the bright side they have some pitching with a lot of upside, however there’s a ton of uncertainty that goes along with those bright young arms. So unless the Braves can turn it around on offense it’s going to be a long summer in Hotlanta.
The Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, and Arizona Diamondbacks all came out of their first series unscathed. Now three of these teams I picked to make the playoffs, so hot starts by them are not at all surprising, but who they did it against was very encouraging. The Rays and Diamondbacks both swept teams in their division that are likely to contend with them all year for the division crown (Yanks and Giants) and therefore sent an early statement. The Tigers won two walk-offs and one blowout against a team that probably should have made the playoffs last year and has a strong lineup (Red Sox). Good for them. The surprise teams are, by process of elimination, the Orioles and Mets. The Orioles feasted against the light-hitting Twins, so that’s nothing to get too excited about. The Mets on the other hand walked away with three wins against a team that we talked about earlier, the Braves. There are things to be excited about here, from the return of Johan Santana to the emergence of young hitters such as Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. If this team can stay healthy and get surprise seasons from key players they might be able to stay in the conversation to stay out of the NL East basement at season’s end.
I don’t recall any opening weekend where I’ve seen so many blown saves or shaky bullpen work after beautiful games by starting pitchers. From Aceves and Melancon in Boston to Perez in Cleveland and even Big Mo for the Yankees there were just an uncanny amount of blown saves. While Rivera’s job is safe in New York, the panic in Boston could create some unorthodox moves by Bobby Valentine. I just don’t think Chris Perez is good enough to get the job done.
The one player that I have already hit the panic button on is Kevin Youkilis. Starting off the season 0 for 12 with no walks is not unheard of for players who have gone on to have good seasons. However after having a down season in 2011, hitting just .258 after three consecutive seasons of over .300 batting average, coming off a poor spring training, and hints at injury concerns with his back, this poor start becomes more concerning.
Mariners Update (because I can):
After splitting the two games in Japan with very little offensive output against the A’s, the Mariners came back to the states and exploded with 15 runs in two games against those very same A’s. This has vaulted the M’s into first place in the AL West, but this week we have a four game series in Arlington against two-time reigning AL champ Rangers. In this series we get to see two of the Rangers’ brand new starting pitchers in Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz, which I’m looking forward to and hoping our boys can continue the offensive surge.
Well that was the first weekend of the young baseball season as the King of Overreaction saw it. Hopefully this season is filled with as much as excitement as there was in these first few games. Although if the season continues at this pace, the King may not make it to October. Until next time, continue overanalyzing and underthinking.