Welcome back! I haven’t written much over the last couple of weeks because I was taking time redesigning my website. I purchased a domain name. You can now find us at http://www.dutchlionsports.com. Check out the new “About Me” section. Bookmark it and you can view updated posts as well as all archives (sorted by category via the menus) whenever you get the urge to dive into the ‘Lion’s Den’!
Let’s dive into some baseball. As of yesterday morning, Wednesday May 17, all major league baseball teams had played between 35 and 42 games this season, which means we’ve completed about one-fourth of the 162 game 2017 baseball season. I note this to remind people how long the season really is, as well as to remind Kyle Schwarber of the Cooooo how many games make up a major league schedule (the other day on a radio interview he said something clueless like “we have what, 150 games to play?”). Of course, Schwarber is up to a .188 batting average after getting a hit last night so how much can you trust this kid, right? Even Mendoza is worried about him. The infamous Mendoza line (.200) might sink to the “Schwarber Line” (.190) by the All-Star Break.
So in the name of informing our readers about sports schedules (OH! That’s right…..Schwarber can’t read…..I forgot that he attended Indiana University!!!……Oh relax Hoosiers fans. I LOVE “Hoosiers”, the movie, if not the generous natives of the state of Indiana.), let’s take a look at the early standings in the……162 game schedule.
Going back to my 2017 MLB Preview posted on April 10, two of my six predicted division champions are alive and well in 1st place (Washington and St. Louis), but four of my division champs aren’t playing great thus far (Cleveland 0.5 GB, LA Dodgers 3.0 GB, Boston 4.0 GB, and Texas 8.0 GB). However, it’s early man…..early! Nonetheless, as the great Yogi Berra once said, “It’s gets late early out there”!
Many of you know my favorite wrestler ever was Randy “Macho Man” Savage. He was a superstar athlete but he was more than that. He was a great talker. He pumped up the crowd. He had charisma, panache. He was funny too. Wrestling was entertainment and the “Macho Man” understood. One of Savage’s greatest promos ever was his “Cream of the Crop” promo from 1987. (Kudos to interviewer Mean Gene Okerlund) Check it out!
Like the “Macho Man”, some of these MLB teams are now rising to the top. Over the course of a 162 game season, the “cream rises to the top”. The best teams eventually prove themselves. Lately, the early season clunkers have started to rise to the top of the standings. Therefore, at the quarter mark of the season, it is actually a good time to analyze teams. Most have played about 40 games and we’re starting to see some trends and some movement in the standings. Some of the early disappointments are starting to put it together at just the right time.
The Cream is Rising to the Top
- St. Louis: After starting 3-9, they’ve vaulted into 1st place with an 18-7 run. This Cards team might be back to playing the “Cardinal Way”. They currently sit in 1st Place with a 21-16 record.
- San Francisco: Won 5 in a row, up to 17-24.
- Toronto: Won 7 of their last 10, up to 17-23.
- Texas: Not just the weather has been sweltering of late. The Rangers have won 7 in a row to get back to .500 at 20-20!
- Washington: The Nationals are this year’s “Cream of the Crop” in the National League thus far. An excellent team at 25-13, the Nationals have one weakness, their bullpen. As predicted, it won’t be long and they’ll make a deal for bullpen help, likely the White Sox’ David Robertson, the Royals’ Kelvin Herrera, and/or Atlanta’s Jim Johnson.
The Sediment is Settling to the Bottom
- Chicago Cubs: Everybody’s darling little stuffed animals have won only 3 of their last 10, now 19-19 on the season. Last year at about this time I think they were 25-6. Is there something wrong on the North Side? You bet there is…….they are simply not that good. The Cooooo are very mediocre if you ask me. Their defense is suspect, 4th from last in fielding percentage. Their hitting is poor, 7th from last in batting average. Overall, they just look very blah, punchless, overrated. All my North Side neighbors are too busy collecting apparel to possibly notice but the truth is their Cubs baseball team is just another team again, much like most of their last 110 years. You can knock me if you want but it’s true. They are either too old or too young when you analyze the roster. Losing leadoff man and CF Dexter Fowler was a big blow, exponentially so because he went to the hated rival the St. Louis Cardinals. Last year was a “horseshoe” kind of year for them, never to return. Like I wrote in the Preview with help from Alice in Chains, “It’s Over Now”.
- NY Mets: Lost 6 in a row, falling to 16-22. Injuries once again are taking a toll.
- All of the National League tankers such as……….
- Atlanta: 4-6 in last 10, 15-21 overall
- Philadelphia: 2-8 in last 10, 14-22 overall
- Miami: 2-8 in last 10, 14-24 overall
- San Diego: 3-7 in last 10, 15-26 overall
Remember, it’s early. Anything can still happen but the pressure is starting to rise and the decision-makers are starting to panic. It won’t be long before teams feel the need to declare themselves as buyers or sellers as they prepare for the July 31 trade deadline. When you think about it, we’re almost halfway to declaration time. There are 6 months in a season (April, May, June, July, August, and September). The trade deadline happens after four months. Therefore, Memorial Day marks the halfway point to D-Day (Decision Day stating if a team is going for it or calling it a season).
Quarter Mark Grades
What I was Right About:
- Washington and St. Louis in 1st Place
- Chicago Cubs not as good as the media and all their fans think. Now “That’s Cub”.
- Bryce Harper as my NL MVP looks solid. He’s the #1 rated player in Yahoo fantasy with .388 avg, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 42 runs, 30 walks. Incredible!
- Chris Sale as my AL Cy Young looks like a great pick too. Sale is 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 85 K (leads the league by 20 K’s)
- Mike Trout as my AL MVP might not be jumping out on a limb but he’s got MVP numbers once again: .344 avg, 12 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB, 23 walks, 27 runs.
What I was Wrong About:
- I thought the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco would be running away with the NL West.
- I thought the NY Yankees would struggle, finishing in 4th Place. So far they’ve been excellent, leading the AL East at 23-13.
- I thought Texas would be awesome. Until the 7 game winning streak they were in last place.
- I thought Toronto would challenge Boston as kings of the AL East. Their injuries to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki have held them back until their recent surge.
What We’re Not Sure About Yet:
- I had Houston as a Wild Card. So far they have the AL’s “Cream of the Crop” record of 28-12.
- Cleveland and Boston haven’t dominated yet but they’re doing fine. They’re both within striking distance of 1st Place at 20-18.
- My AL and NL Rookies of the Year are Yoan Moncada and Hunter Renfroe. Moncada is still in AAA Charlotte for the White Sox while Renfroe is scuffling for the Padres with a .217 avg, 7 HR, 17 RBI, and 43 K’s in 147 AB! He’s gonna get sent down the minors soon if he doesn’t improve that average and strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Moncada is tearing it up at Charlotte. It’s only a matter of time until he gets the call from Comiskey Park.