American League Early Reactions

We’re not quite a quarter of the way through the baseball season, but there’s been plenty to talk about so far. Both World Series teams from 2016 are currently not in first place in their division, everyone is hurt, and dirt bike riding is the new least favorite activity among people in San Francisco. There’s still plenty of games left to be played, but we can learn a lot about teams through the first quarter of games. Let’s see who and what has caught my eye so far.

Check out the NL piece here.

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles continue to prove the projection systems wrong as they are again sitting near the top of the American League. It hasn’t been pretty however, as All Star closer Zach Britton is out for at least another month exposing a few flaws in what is normally an elite bullpen. The biggest concern for the Orioles going forward has to be staff ace Kevin Gausman (7.19 ERA) looking more like a long man than the big time pitcher Baltimore was hoping for. If Gausman cannot turn it around, the O’s could be in big trouble down the stretch.

Boston Red Sox – A wicked bad flu bug wrecked the Red Sox clubhouse through the first two weeks of the season, but Boston has rebounded nicely and kept pace with Baltimore and New York in the division. Chris Sale was worth everything the gave up for him and probably more which is good, because Rick Porcello has turned back into the slightly above average pumpkin we all knew he was before his 2016 Cy Young campaign. It’s a bad sign when probably the biggest news item about a team so far this season is the actions of their racist fan base. That can’t be good for the Sox Karma going forward, but as we saw with the NBA this week, everything is coming up Boston right now.

Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are surprisingly frisky! Chicago won’t stay in contention for much longer, but they have at least given their fans some decent baseball to watch this spring. Outfielder Avisail Garcia has finally lived up to the “Mini Miggy” nickname he had coming up in the minor leagues, as Garcia has hit basically everything in route to a .338 batting average so far this season.

Cleveland Indians – The Tribe have been pretty disappointing so far this season as ace Corey Kluber is currently on the shelf and free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion has gotten off to a slow start. There is no reason to panic however as Carlos Carrasco has picked up the slack from Kluber’s injury, Michael Brantley has stayed healthy for the first time in what feels like forever, and the Indians just called up top prospect Bradley Zimmer who homered in his second career game. I fully expect Cleveland to right the ship and get back to the postseason.

Detroit Tigers – The 2017 Tigers are basically the same Tigers from 2016. Potent lineup that just recently got JD Martinez back and a terrible bullpen that seems to cost them at least one game every series. If the Tigers are going to make a serious postseason push they’ll need to add at least two arms to their bullpen.

Houston Astros – The Astros look unbeatable some nights. Their lineup seems to never end and the duo of Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers could be the best in the AL. They are even getting major contributions from guys like Charlie Morton (5 Wins, 54 K’s) and Martin Gonzalez (9 homers) who I’m sure some people forgot even existed. The Astros are here to stay.

Kansas City Royals – The Royals are on life support (pumps fist). They currently have the worst record in the American League and have scored the least amount of runs in the league by a mile. The A’s are 14th in the league in runs scored, but have still scored 27 more runs than KC. Stick a fork in this team. They’re done, a fire sale is on the horizon and we should all be glad.

Los Angeles Angels – Mike Trout is still amazing and the rest of the Angels are still holding him back. LA is still below league average in runs scored and below league average in ERA. Yawn. Next.

Minnesota Twins – Now here is a team to be excited about. The Twins are currently in first in the AL Central led by young third baseman Miguel Sano who has finally put it all together and is murdering every baseball thrown his way. Minnesota is still at least a year away from being serious contenders, but have been one of the more fun teams in the league to watch so far this season. If Jose Berrios can build off his brilliant first start of the season the Twins could find themselves with the best young hitter and best young pitcher in the American League by seasons end.

New York Yankees – The Evil Empire is officially back. They’re not even supposed to be good, but yet they are. Aaron Judge looks like the next big Yankee star that everyone will fear. I’d like to think brittle veterans Holliday, Gardner, and Ellsbury will wear down over the second half of the season and their pitching staff could be in huge trouble if Masahiro Tanaka keeps allowing home runs every other pitch. But they’re the Yankees and collapsing doesn’t seem likely.

Oakland Athletics – Where to start here? The A’s have had some nice out of nowhere individual seasons from Yonder Alonso (12 homers) and Andrew Triggs (5 Wins, 2.12 ERA) but all in all they are a huge mess. Oakland will finish with one of the worst records in baseball again and be one of the tougher teams to watch.

Seattle Mariners – The Mariners aren’t dead yet, but the doctors are currently meeting with their family about what to do. Four of the Mariners five projected starting pitchers are currently on the DL with lone man standing being Yovani Gallardo who I’m sure they would prefer just not pitch at this point. With Robinson Cano going on the DL also. this tough start just might be too much for Seattle to overcome.

Tampa Bay Rays –  The Rays are still the Rays. Having to send Blake Snell back to the minors wasn’t ideal, but watching Corey Dickerson mash again has been a lot of fun to watch. The big question for the Rays in the second half will be the call up of Brent Honeywell.

Texas Rangers – The Rangers have been a big disappointment so far and the injury bug has hit them hard. Adrian Beltre hasn’t played a game yet this season, Cole Hamels is in the process of missing two months, and they just had to put Carlos Gomez on the disabled list as well. The first week nightmare that was Sam Dyson is behind them and every Joey Gallo moonshot homer shows that the team’s future is still bright. However, this team is built to win now and will need to tread water until they can get their All Stars back on the field or the Astros will run away with the AL West.

Toronto Blue Jays – What a mess this has been. The Jays got off to a terrible start to the season losing nine of their first ten games and have been killed by injuries since then. Without Josh Donaldson, JA Happ and having Aaron Sanchez’s fingernail falling off every other start you can pretty much write off the Blue Jays for the rest of 2017. This feels well deserved after their fans threw a beer bottle onto the field during the postseason. Do not anger the Baseball Gods again Canada.

-Randy Haines

Photo credit: Troy Taormina – USA Today

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