We did our best to get this out right after opening week, but we are both busy college students in our Junior year. That is why it is “Kind of” an opening week spar.
Anyway, here it is.
Joe to Greg
After almost two complete weeks of baseball, we can finally say the season is underway. Seattle looks like a completely different team as they own the best run differential in the league (+18) early on. Their first 16 games come against either the Angels, Athletics, or Rangers; Coming out of the gates with at least 10 wins can put the Mariners in great position to start the season.
I don’t know what to think of the AL East yet, but I think how teams start the season in that division goes a long way in determining who comes out on top at the end. I think there is the possibility of three teams getting into the playoffs out of that division depending on how much they beat each other up. The Miami Marlins have started strong, or at least Giancarlo Stanton (who already has 12 RBIs). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Arizona Diamondbacks have started 2-8, which baffles me because of Mark Trumbo‘s play early on (5 HRs, 13 RBIs, .282 AVG). They’ve dug themselves a hole that they need to climb out of sooner rather than later with the Dodgers and Giants off to strong starts.
What are your early impressions of the league?
Greg to Joe
My early impressions are that the Yankees are severely overvalued in Vegas. Almost every game they have played, the GDM has found an advantage. I was scared when the GDM said I should bet Astros on the first day of the season, but I was quickly calmed down after CC Sabathia gave up 4 runs in the first. Now, I am really thinking that the Yankees are not that good. Their starting pitching is just not good enough. When Masahiro Tanaka (a pitcher that was always touted as good but not Yu Darvish good) is clearly the ace of the staff, you have problems in the pitching department. Tanaka is striking out a lot of guys now, but look for him to turn into more of groundball pitcher with the devastating splitter.
I LOVE watching Jose Fernandez pitch, and I am sure I am not the only one. Whenever he starts, the Marlins are favorites in Vegas, and rightfully so. He just strikes people out like it is nobody’s business. He is averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings. That is unheard of from a starter. Obviously, that number will go down, but I think that he will be a serious threat to average double digit strikeouts per nine innings throughout the season. That would be why he is my projected NL Cy Young Award winner.
With that prediction out there, do you have any predictions for any of the other awards?
Joe to Greg
You made a good point about Tanaka. After giving up a home run to the first batter he faced, he’s looked just fine. I can’t remember the analyst who initially mentioned this, but CC Sabathia’s velocity went down when he started losing weight. He wasn’t creating that power behind every pitch, and I think that’s a big reason why he went 14-13 last season. This is a minor prediction, but if Tanaka shines during the first half of the season and Sabathia continues his form from last season, I could see a change in the pitching rotation around the All-Star break. I never played baseball myself so I don’t know all the logistics of changing a starting rotation midway through the season. Nonetheless, I agree that the Yankees starting pitching needs some work.
As far as any other major award predictions, I’m looking for another AL MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Without trying to sound like too much of a homer, I would love to see Xander Bogaerts explode onto the scene. He has tremendous potential, but I think the expectations for him skyrocketed when he played well in the playoffs last year, which could impact people’s perception of him. On the NL side, I agree with the Fernandez pick. He’s just a stud, but another pitcher I’m starting to like a lot is Fernandez’s teammate, Nathan Eovaldi. He has great velocity on his pitches, average fastball velocity of 95.5 mph. He gets a fair amount of K’s (6 in his first start, 8 in his second), and I think if the Marlins want to contend with the Braves and Nationals, they’ll need support from someone other than Fernandez.
What are your thoughts about Ervin Santana‘s recent start for the Braves? He went eight shutout innings. Could he sneak into the conversation for CY young?
Greg to Joe
Pitching rotation changes don’t need to specifically happen. Tanaka will just be referred to as the Yankees’ ace, and he may already be referred to as that. Sabathia has started to lose velocity on his average fastball since 2009, according to Pitch F/X. The Yankees should have never resigned him to a huge extension in 2011.
As far the awards, the AL MVP shouldn’t be a race. It will be Mike Trout. He was by far the best player in ALL OF BASEBALL the past two seasons, and this year, he will finally get what he deserves. I think Bogaerts will be in the running for AL Rookie of the year, but he will be chasing Jose Abreu, and possibly Tanaka. Abreu is awesome to watch at the plate. I am pumped I have him on my fantasy team in the Barry Bonds’ Ball Sack league. NL Rookie of the year will go to Chrisitan Yelich, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Wacha, or Billy Hamilton. If Hamilton steals 80 bases, he will probably win it, but I actually think Yelich could run away with it if he could get his hitting straightened out. My (random) NL MVP prediction is it will come down to Freddie Freeman and Yadier Molina. It will be decided by how many games the Braves and Cardinals win.
I like Nathan Eovaldi too. I think he could be a number 2 or 3 starter in the Marlins’ rotation when they are in contention again, which will be two years from now.
Ervin Santana’s start does not mean much to me. I think that will be the best game he pitches all season. I think that Santana will revert to his normal self and finish with an ERA and FIP around 4. We’ll see if I am right about this, but we’ll find out as the season goes on.
You excited about the Sox – Yanks series this weekend?
Joe to Greg
I’m excited for the Sox-Yanks series because I’m starting to appreciate the amount of games that Derek Jeter has left in the rivalry. That being said, they just lost this afternoon after a big performance against none other than CC Sabathia! I love this guy! Keep having him pitch against the Sox because its producing great outcomes for the Sox. Should we be worried about the Sox (5-7) and Orioles’ (4-6) sluggish starts? I know it’s extremely early, but the AL East is ridiculously competitive.
Talk about starting off on the right note, the Brewers (8-2) sweep the Sox in Boston, and then go into Philly and sweep them too. The NL Central looks like another ridiculous competitive division between the Brewers, Cards, and Pirates. Who do you think comes out of this division? Actually, while we’re here, can we just make a couple of predictions for the playoffs?
AL East: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
AL Wild Card Matchup: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees (How awesome would it be to see a one game play-in game between the oldest rivals in the game?)
NL East: Atlanta Braves
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card Matchup: LA Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals
Greg to Joe
I don’t think that the Sox have much to worry about, but the Orioles could be in trouble. They have been sluggish offensively beginning in the second half of last season. They are regarded as a high power offense, but post-All Star break, they ranked 14th in the OPS and 16th in runs. That is mediocre for a “top offense”.
For predictions, I posted my over/under totals bets that should have been made. When I was doing that, I made my playoff picture off of those win totals.
AL East: Tamba Bay Rays
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Oakland Athletics
AL Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays @ Boston Red Sox
You knew I didn’t like the Yankees from my over/under post, but there is a noticeable difference in my playoff picture than probably everyone else in the country. I don’t have the Tigers in the postseason. They were also one of my biggest under bets for the season, and I didn’t write about it because I couldn’t explain it. Now, I can. It was because their top 5 starters actually got to start almost 160 of their games last season and that is nearly impossible. I expect some time missed from their top starters, and I don’t think their bullpen is that great either. I guess that is my boldest prediction for this season, but we will see what happens.
NL East: Washington Nationals
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card: SF Giants @ Atlanta Braves
Pretty much chalk in my predictions here. I guess the biggest surprise is no Pirates, but I think the Giants will be able to get some more wins in a much worse NL West.
Greg Danchik and Joe Meola