We are three weeks into the Major League Season now and things are finally starting to get cooking. The contenders are stepping up, the bottom-dwellers have finished their early swoon are settling back in the pack, and the pitching is finally starting to come around. Now we can really start talking some baseball.
All-Star Voting Gets Underway
Early last week, Major League Baseball unveiled its All-Star ballot and opened up voting for the fans. Now, say what you want about the choice to make the All-Star game count by rewarding the winning league with home field advantage during the World Series, it’s only a contributing factor in this argument.
Fact of the matter is if Major League Baseball wants to make the All-Star game legitimate, then they need to scale back the voting period until at least mid-May. By opening up the voting up after just a few weeks of play, MLB is openly saying that the game itself is a popularity contest, not something to determine who has the advantage in late October. Fans don’t have enough of a sample to judge who best represents each league after just two weeks of play. Instead, they are locked into voting for their favorite players or teams, which leads to the need for such rules as making sure every team is represented by at least one player because fan voting can’t be trusted enough to be fair.
Red Sox Need to Catch Up
Fans in New England and all across Red Sox Nation are up in arms over the downfalls of the team thus far, leading to a fourth place standing in the American League East and a record of 8-11 on the season. A lot of the blame, as highlighted here last week, can fall on a pitching staff that has failed to meet expectations and has given up the second most runs in the American League with 101.
Now it’s easy to pin the blame on the pitchers because their stats are more quantifiable and are published everywhere. However, if you want to dig deeper, it may be worth noting that it’s tougher for a pitcher to prevent runs when neither the pitching staff nor catching corps can keep runners from stealing bases. As of this writing, the Red Sox have given up 38 stolen bases on the season while throwing out just 2 would be thefts. That’s 18 more than the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are next on the list with 20. It’s a much tougher burden for a pitcher to have to pitch with runners in scoring position that it is with a runner on first, especially when the runners have no qualms with taking third base.
The talk has been about Boston acquiring another bat, but to be honest, they need to concentrate on picking up a full-time catcher and moving Martinez to the Designated Hitter spot. Cleveland knew this before trading him to Boston and now the Red Sox are learning it the hard way.
National League Cy Young Race Gets Off To Quick Start
Everyone knew that Roy Halladay was going to be a force when he transitioned to the National League from the American League East. What we didn’t know was what kind of impact he would have on the other Cy Young hopefuls in the National League. Halladay has pitched as described, but several other pitchers have stepped up their game and answered the call:
Roy Halladay – 4 Wins, 0.82 ERA, 2 CG, 28 SO
Ubaldo Jimenez – 4 Wins, 0.95 ERA, 1 CG, 25 SO
Tim Lincecum – 4 Wins, 1.00 ERA, 0 CG, 32 SO
Adam Wainright – 3 Wins, 1.69 ERA, 2 CG, 26 SO
Needless to say, the National League Cy Young race is going to be interesting to watch if all of these pitchers keep putting up these kinds of numbers.
Padres Are Hot In NL West
Many pundits felt that the National League West was going to be one of the best in baseball this season. Then again, not one of them pictured that the Dodgers would be floating at the bottom of the division and the Padres would be leading it at the end of April either. On the backs of an eight-game winning streak, the Padres have climbed to the top of the division and appear to be carrying over their great play from the end of 2009.
For a team that was supposed to be in transition, they are either playing above their heads at this stage, or they are just getting growth out of their young players. Apparently, they’ve figured out that the best way for the team to win in the confines of Petco Park is through pitching, as they currently rank third in all of baseball with a team ERA of 2.87. Kevin Correia is leading the pack with a record of 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA and a 22/9 strike-out to walk ratio. Jon Garland, Mat Latos, and Clayton Richard (acquired in the Jake Peavy deal) are all also chipping in ERA’s below 4.00. All of this after the trade of staff ace Jake Peavy and the loss of Chris Young early in the season.
MLB Standings, MLB.com
Sortable Team Stats, MLB.com