Sunday, May 15, 2005

A couple of Surprises so far this season (AL only) Part I

All right we're about 6 weeks in so all of the "flukes" should have been worked out of the system. Or have they? I think any one that is watching the AL closely is counting the ABs until the likes or Brian Roberts and Shea Hillenbrand hit the wall. That being said, Orioles and Toronto fans (and maybe just a little bit of Team X) are holding their collective breath that they won't. Below is a list of a couple surprises (good and bad). I'd like to hear people's thoughts on which will last and which won't.

Not too many positive surprises here (players playing above their previous years), unless you count Inge who hasn't logged a single game as a catcher yet still qualifies for cathcer in yahoo. As for the slow starts, one might suggest Irod is off to a slower start than predicted, but I don't see him struggling. The real surpise is Victor Martinez who was the first catcher drafted (in the second round) and isn't even close to the top 10. It's worth a brief note (or should I say dig) that Posada is mediocre at best - but this isn't a suprise, right?

There are actually a couple of players to talk about here. First off there are two guys returning from injuries or injury affected seasons, Sexson and Sweeney. Should we dust of the crutches or will they last? Then there is the Toronto surprise, Hinske and Hillenbrand tearing it up north of the border. These guys actually should qualify for their own category (corner IF) because I think they are sharing time at both positions with Koskie. Hillenbrand still doesn't get any walks so is it just a matter of time before his stratospheric average starts to drop? Finally, there is the Tino-bambino, whom we've already discussed.

As for the slow starts, Huff and Hafner are the most notable. That being said, Huff is really a right-fielder and I guess Hafner is suffering from can-not-hit-lefty-itis.

Some one grab the hose because Brian Roberts is on fire! I'd just like to point out that X convinced me last year to take a risk on Jerry Hairston Jr. because he was going to be the next big second baseman. How ironic that his ankles exploded (or was it a foot) and Brian Roberts got a chance to show his stuff. His stuff was SO good that Hairston was shipped off to the Cubs in the Sosa deal. Is this kid for real? As for the other end, it looks like Boone might be starting to fade with age, but that's not a surprise.

Just a brief chance to get on my soap-box, don't you love how Arod has become the poster boy for "Stats first"? (He's damn good, but until he shows that he's better for the Yankees then someone's Fantasy team he should be called "Stat boy"). The biggest suprise besides the H-boyz from Toronto is Mora. I think it was widely thought that last year was a total blip and he wouldn't be able to match it (he is 33 after all). So far so good. He is hitting in the hottest offense in the league, so that helps (as predicted). Is it time to start looking at Mora more seriously? Can he be "finding his groove" after 30? On the other side of things, I think it's fair to say that predictably Blalock and Beltre are coming back to earth. Any thoughts on these two?

It doesn't look like there are any major surprise here. Tejada is the man and has been for a couple of years. Jeter is being consistent as always. Michael Young is coming back to earth a bit as is Guillen. The only under performer is Edgar, but he is switching leagues so that could change after the all-star break. (It is worth pointing out that "Orlando-who" isn't fairing much better with the Angels of Everywhere.

It doesn't look like there are any major surprises, besides Carl Everett! Although, I can hear the bones in his knees grinding. Or is that my teeth. Dellucci qualifies for LF (but has more ABs at DH). Will he last? He is currently hitting the ball very well.

I think the big surprise goes to Podsednik. A single for him is basically the same as a double (22 steals)! (And he's not doing a terrible job getting on base). As for guys who are struggling, I think the most notable is Wells. SI did a feature on the Blue Jays before the season and they were commenting that Wells was going to have a 30 HR 30 Steal year. Well, he's got a long way to go to hit those numbers and it's not like his team isn't hitting well. Finally, it is worth mentioning that Torii seems to be back.

No big surprises here. If you aren't familiar with the Sox, I could see someone bringing up Nixon, but I would wager that no one reading this honestly thought that Nixon was going to be at the bottom of the league for RFs.

So I guess the offensive suprises go to Brian Roberts and the H-boyz from North of the border. Pitching will have to wait for another day (although we've done a great job tracking the outstanding performances - thanks Earl).


  1. Team X does hold its collective breath a bit on Hillenbrand more so than Roberts. But I guess about the time they slow down is when Vernon Wells and Edgar Renteria will hear up.

    As for Posada, that was my prediction this year, that all the innings will catch up with him.

    I think it was two years ago that I "sold you" on Hairston??

    "it looks like Boone might be starting to fade with age" - is it age or should we cover him with a scarlet S. Plus he was pretty crappy as an analyst during last year's playoff. Let's hope he's saved some money during his career.

    And my final observation after a somewhat lost weekend in Seattle. Ichiro is the most underrated player in the game. Period. I don't care what anyone says, there is only one other player (Bonds) whose at bats completely change/disrupt the other team the way Ichiro does. It should be noted that the Red sox intentionally walked Ichiro more times in this 3 game series than they walked Bonds in the 3 game series last year.

  2. Yeah, sorry about that weekend in Seattle. I was close to going myself too. Safeco is really great (I've been a few times now), and I agree that Ichiro is amazing. Very fun to watch in the outfield also. Not sure I'd call him "underrated", given he has a ROY, MVP, is a shoo in for the ASG every year, and probably is in the top 5 for players' merchandise sold, but whatever.

    I still don't agree with you about Boone being "terrible" in the booth. Sure, Al Leiter was better, but who else? Boone was a thousand times better than David Justice. He was quiet, but that's okay in my opinion. His jokes were pretty funny.

    That said, the funniest part was the stunned silence when his kid brother, a far worse ballplayer, became the newest Yankee Hero. I wish they'd cut to the booth just so we could've seen his face.

  3. Safeco is great. It reminds me of PacBell with a roof - although Pac Bell has the open OF and the Cove. And, I guess, better food.

    I guess the underrated comment on Ichiro was more along the lines of thinking that a lot of people don't have a full appreciation of how he alters the game. Being able to see the entire field adds to how much he disrupts the defense, while at bat and on base.

    And his arm is incredible. Sveum, who loves to send runners, held up Miller on a single to right with the ball a good 8 feet away from Ichiro. The general rule is send the guy if the fielder has not gotten to the ball. After Tek was dead on Friday, Sveum had to think twice. And on the Friday play, why did Tek not deck the C? Professional courtesy?

    And sure Ichiro is an all star and sells merchandise, but those are largely due to the Japan factor. And what got me thinking about the subject was I recently read someone (can't remember who) touting A-Rod as the most underrated player in the game.

    I basically agree with you on Boone - somehwere between Leiter and Justice. Which was just my way of saying he shouldn't quit his day job.

  4. A-Rod underrated. Priceless.

    Good point about the Japan factor. I wonder how much of that was lost when Matsui (the good Matsui) signed with that New York team (the good New York team).

    Yeah, the highlight of the first Safeco game I saw (Indians-Mariners, whoop-de-doo) was an Ichiro play in the outfield. Guy on second, fly ball to middle-shallow right...and he just stood there watching it start to drop. A little scary-looking. Then he charged in at nearly full speed (which is fast), caught it, and threw to third, with an extra 10-15 mph on his throw, than if he'd waited under it. It was insane.

    My other big Ichiro memory was when Pedro opened a game at Safeco by striking him out with 3 pitches. He then went on to strike out the next two guys on 3 each -- an amazing feat in itself, made even more so by the fact it involved Ichiro.

    This is a seriously off-topic thread, but are there any Asian-born ballplayers in the HOF?

  5. I do not think there are any Asians in the HOF. The likely candidate is Sodahiro OH - their HR all-time champ (I think over 800).

    He is not in the Hall, so that would lead me to think they are not eligible - it is the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I guess the national piece is just US. Sad. But true. The rules state something to the affect that a player must play in at least parts of ten baseball seasons and my guess is that it specifically states MLB. Too lazy and hungry to look up.

  6. I should also point out Twins 1B Justin Morneau, who has been absolutely scorching since coming back from an injury early in the year. And by absolutely scorching, I mean to the tune of .375/.402/.727 with 7 HR. Maybe not wholly surprising, but the hot start has been pretty impressive (and helpful, for a couple of my fantasy teams).

  7. I'd like to thank Andrew for bring this post back to topic! Plus we should all check out his cool blog.

    As for his point about Morneau, the key word is suprise. I think a lot of people expected Morneau to hit the tar off the ball. Granted, maybe not this efficiently but it's not a huge suprise.

  8. Point taken (and, thanks for the plug). Though, I've got to say that I'm always a little surprised when rookies actually do live up to the hype.

    Also, I have to say: I totally called Brian Roberts before the season. I didn't call 11 homers and a better OPS than Manny... but I totally called him.

  9. Actually, that's a good point Andrew. Rookies living up to their potential is pretty significant. At least worth mentioning. In that case, can we put Mauer in the same boat? Granted he's not a real rookie, but it looks like he is hitting as expected and so far avoiding the DL.

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