mlb: 2 weeks in

We’re more than two full weeks into the MLB season and there are already some very telling storylines. As a Yankees fan, I have to start there.
At the time of the posting of this article, the Yankees have the best record in baseball at 10-3. Knowing Yankees teams of the past, one would think that this is because they are simply bludgeoning teams in high-scoring affairs. If you’re one of those people, you’d be wrong. True, the Yankees are the third-highest scoring team (the Phillies rank first with 81 runs scored and surprisingly, the Diamondbacks rank second with 77), but they’re really winning games with pitching. The Yanks have allowed the second-fewest runs, trailing only the San Francisco Giants by 2. The Yankees’ top three starters, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte all have ERAs under 2.90 (Pettitte’s is a blistering 1.35 through 3 starts) and they have combined for 45 strikeouts and only 19 walks. Let’s talk about the bullpen, too. Mariano Rivera is as good as ever. Check his line: 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 5 saves. Remember that Joba Chamberlain guy? Setting up for Mo: 7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 6 H, 3 BB, 10 K. Still think he should be starting? I don’t.
Now about the hitting…Mark Teixeira, the prized first baseman, is having his worst start of a season ever. Through 13 games, he’s batting .125 with 6 RBIs and 12 strikeouts. I don’t care who you are, that’s horrendous. Alex Rodriguez started out cold but has since found his stroke. A lot of other guys have been stepping up for the Yanks though. Curtis “Yankee Doodle Grandy” Granderson (many thanks to Greg Brzozowski for the nickname) hit a home run in his first at bat as a Yankee and has continued producing ever since. He’s currently batting .313 with a pair of doubles, triples and home runs along with 7 RBI and 4 stolen bases. Brett Gardner, who lost his job to Granderson, is batting a cool .303 with 7 stolen bases. He’s not gonna hit for power, but he’s a perfect table-setter batting at the bottom of the Yankees lineup. When Teixeira gets to midseason form, there won’t be any holes in this already stellar Yankees lineup.
So there’s my rant on why the Yankees are so good. But let’s take a look at some other storylines around the league.
The Boston Red Sox are 5-9, 4th in the AL East, and are posting a -18 run differential. Where’s the pitching? None of the starters are posting an ERA below 3.75. What’s worse is how far off the starting pitching is from that number. Jon Lester, the supposed new ace of the staff, is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA and a BB:K ratio of 9:14. John Lackey, the LA Angels’ former #1 starter, is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA and a BB:K ratio of 7:8. And they’re not getting help from the defense, which was supposed to be better than last year’s version of the Red Sox. Through 14 games, the Sox have committed 10 errors. There are only 6 teams worse. In terms of batting, the Sox knew what they were getting this season: a lack of power. To put it in perspective, there is only 1 player on their current roster who had more than 25 home runs last year: David Ortiz, who had 28. Well, as it turns out, Big Papi is batting a paltry .146 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI and he’s been benched. There’s speculation around the league that he’ll be released come July if he doesn’t turn it around. The two other “big bats” for the Sox have also been sputtering. Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis are both batting .250 or below with 3 combined home runs and 11 combined RBI. Right now, things are looking bleak for the Sox in a very competitive AL East.
Speaking of that competitive AL East, how about the Tampa Bay Rays, off to the best start in team history? They are firing on all cylinders and will likely compete with the Yankees for division dominance all season. Quite honestly, the Rays have to win this year because they will likely lose star outfielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency this coming offseason. Even this past offseason, there was talk that the Yankees didn’t re-sign Johnny Damon so they could have room on the roster for Carl Crawford either through free agency or a trade if the Rays fell out of contention early. Since the Rays are clearly contenders, looks like the Yanks will have to wait til the offseason to woo Crawford.
Other early season surprises: the Minnesota Twins boasting a 10-4 record with a +26 run differential, the Oakland A’s leading the AL West by 1 game over the Seattle Mariners, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2nd place in the NL Central and a tie for 1st in the NL West between the Giants and, who would’ve guessed, the San Diego Padres.
There you have it, folks. It looks like this season has a lot in store for us.

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