Opening Weekend of the Major League Baseball season has come and gone, and even after just four games for most teams, there’s a lot to learn about what we have seen.
Yes, it’s still incredibly early and it’s important to keep things in perspective. However, some teams have shown that they have the ability to be more capable than anybody had anticipated during Spring Training. Let’s take a look at three things that stood out to me over the weekend.
Names don’t win games
Just about every team has its recognizable face that’s expected to step up in the big moments and take control of the game. Depending on a team’s market or just how it’s played recently, there might be a few or more “big-name players” that have this capability. If Opening Weekend showed us anything, it’s that any player on an MLB roster can step into that role and play the hero.
Yes, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has hit three homers in his last two games, but Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger also hit two dingers and drove in five runs in the Mariners’ last three games. Raise your hand if you know who Haniger is. Now, if your name’s not Dustin Eves, put it down.
My point is that it doesn’t matter who’s up to bat for or against your team, lightning can and will strike at any time.
Side note: Haniger could be a dark horse for the American League MVP. Keep an eye there.
Sinkers and floaters
There are a few teams that are sitting on top of their respective divisions and will likely stay there for the entirety of the season, barring injuries. But we saw unexpected teams play very well in Opening Weekend that currently own their division leads. We’re bound to see some of these teams sink in their division, while the real cream floats to the top.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox immediately come to mind as teams set to sink to the middle of the pack (if not to the bottom) within their division races. The Pirates had a garage sale over the winter and got rid of just about everyone who contributed to their run in July 2017. Outfielder Starling Marte and first baseman Josh Bell remain with the Pirates, but they’re now playing beside Joe TripleA and Brad Hitsabucktwenty. The 4-0 start isn’t likely to stick.
The favorites are the favorites
Naturally, the Houston Astros opened the season as favorites to repeat as World Series champs and currently sit at 11/2 odds on vegasinsider.com. Even with the discomfort of shortstop Carlos Correa’s toe, the Astros did more than just reload for 2018, they amped up to 11 from their title season. It’s still early, but the Astros are already playing much better baseball than the rest of the bigs.
Overreaction alert: There’s no stopping the bulldozer that is the Houston Astros.
Photo by Brigham Berthold