After one quarter of the season
finished, who's excelling and who's disappointing? We run down those players and those teams that are excelling and also cast our eye over a few that are not living up to their preseason expectations.
Josh Hamilton - There are few athletes who have ever
stepped foot onto the baseball diamond with as much natural ability as Josh
Hamilton. At 6'4" and 240 lbs he
could be a starting quarterback or even an outside linebacker in the NFL but
he's a major league baseball player and if it were not for his personal demons,
he could have been one of the greatest to ever play the game. This season, at the age of 31, he is
demonstrating his enormous talent and fulfilling all the potential and lofty
expectations that everyone had for him when he was drafted first overall by the
Tampa Bay Rays in 1999.
leads the majors with 18 homeruns and 46 RBI's on the young season accompanied
by an American League best .384 batting average. The scary part about Hamilton is that these
are numbers he can sustain and not just an early season mathematical
aberration. The man is blessed with an
embarrassment of riches and there is no pitcher in baseball who can
consistently stop him but there is one outfielder who can and his name is Josh
David Wright - The Mets third baseman is bouncing
back in a big way after a disappointing, injury plagued 2011 campaign. He wakes up this morning with a Major League
leading .409 batting average and is cemented as one of the cornerstones of the
Mets surprising success this season. The
Mets management must be simultaneously applauding and grimacing every time
Wright gets a hit or makes a play. You
see, David Wright is in a contract year and the Mets chose to wait and see how
this season panned out for the 29 year old five time All-Star and two time Gold
Glove winner. It appears to be working
out quite well...for David Wright.
Derek Lowe - Yes, that Derek Lowe and he's
pitching spectacularly for the Cleveland Indians. Lowe currently sits atop the American League
with an eyebrow arching 2.05 ERA and a 6-1 record. Can you imagine how the Atlanta Braves feel
right about now? They dealt Lowe to the
Indians in the offseason for a minor leaguer and are on the hook for 10 of the
15 million dollars Lowe is getting paid in 2012. Lowe will turn 39 on June 1st and
you can rest assure that he will not be leading the league in anything at the
end of the season but right now, it's a nice story while it lasts.
The Baltimore Orioles - As soon as I wrote the words
"Baltimore Orioles" under the heading Winners, I sat back and scratched my head. There was no one in the room so I didn't do
it for theatrical purposes. I didn't
even expect to do it, I caught myself doing it.
I tell you this because it pretty much sums up everyone's reaction to
the Orioles performance this season.
After 41 games they sit atop one of the most feared divisions in Major
League Baseball with a 27-14 record and second only to the Dodgers in all of
they defeated another pleasantly surprising team in the Washington Nationals
6-5 for their ninth straight road win.
They head into Sunday with a 5 game winning streak and two of those
games were won in extra innings.
year old centerfielder Adam Jones has been a beast for the O's leading the team
in all the major offensive statistical categories while Jason Hammel and
Wei-Yin Chen have been solid starters in the rotation. But who would have thought Orioles reliever
Jim Johnson would be lights out this season?
Johnson has 15 saves under his belt with none blown and an ERA and WHIP
under 1.00. Will it continue for the
Baltimore brigade? Probably not but
going to Camden Yards hasn't been this much fun in a long time.
Albert Pujols - When the Angels signed the then 31
year old Albert Pujols to a mega-contract for 10 years and worth close to a
quarter of a billion dollars, you would think a stat sheet that read 3
homeruns, 18 RBI's and a .216 batting average would sound about right after
forty games if this were the end of the contract but this is the first
year! Sir Albert must be laying awake at
night and wondering how did he, the handsome prince, turn into such a frog
overnight. But the Cardinals fans must
be reveling in his failure. Schadenfreude rules in St. Louis just as surely as
every Cavalier fan delights whenever LeBron James misses a bucket or loses a
More than likely Pujols will heat
up in June and will be blistering the ball throughout the dog days of summer
but what if this is indeed the beginning of the end? Professional athletes don't get better when
they enter their mid-30's and Pujols is only a few years removed yet has a
decade left on his contract. That could
leave the Angels in hell for a good long time.
Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox are mired
in last place in the AL East with a 19-21 record and 7.5 games behind the
league leading Baltimore Orioles (did I really just write this or is Rod
Serling in the background talking about me?).
While it's true they are currently without the services of Jacoby
Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Carl Crawford they are still among the leaders in
offense. Seriously, can you imagine any
other team without three All-Stars, all positional players and still lighting
up the scoreboard? Well if there was
ever a case to be made that pitching is what counts at the Major League level
then Boston is a case study.
Boston's pitching has been their
undoing thus far. Jon Lester, Josh
Beckett and Clay Bucholz were counted upon to give the Sox good quality innings
but until just recently have not come through.
Boston traded away a young quality outfielder in Josh Reddick, who
incidentally leads the Athletics in all offensive statistical categories, to
get a more inexpensive replacement in Andrew Bailey for former closer Jonathan
Papelbon. Papelbon is now mowing them
down in Philly while Bailey has yet to throw a pitch in anger for the Sox due
to a preseason injury.
Perhaps even more frustrating for
management and fans alike is that roughly 25 million dollars per annum is being
spent on bust-outs John Lackey and Dice-K Matsuzaka. The pair has underwhelmed since Boston brass
lavished them with ridiculous contracts and are both now rehabbing injuries
with Lackey out for the season due to Tommy John surgery.