MLB's biggest surprises, letdowns in first month (Yahoo Sports)


The first month of Major League Baseball’s regular season is in the books. While that’s a relatively short period of time considering the season stretches until October, it’s also a nice arbitrary cutoff for evaluating teams and players.

With one month gone, we’ve already seen our unprejudiced share of surprises and disappointments. No one could fill predicted Eric Thames’ return to the majors would depart this well. On the flip side, anyone who had the San Francisco Giants penciled into the World Series probably felt pretty generous approximately that decision.

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That’s the beauty of baseball. Though we live in an era where stats and projections are more prominent than ever, it’s the unexpected that grabs our attention.

With that in intellect, The Stew presents our biggest surprises and disappointments one month into the season. Let’s dive right in.

Eric Thames has been giving a lot of high fives in 2017. (AP)

SURPRISE: ERIC THAMES, 1B/OF, MILWAUKEE BREWERS
“Surprise” doesn’t seem to be the right word to record Thames’ early season performance. It’s really a combination of flabbergasted and incredulous. No one expected Thames to near back from Korea and bash like gangbusters, but here we are. His 11 domestic runs and .326/.446/.761 triple slash speak for themselves. (Liz Roscher)

DISAPPOINTMENT: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
whether the Giants’ 2017 season were a country album, it’d be called “Dirt Bikes & Disappointments.” You know the Madison Bumgarner sage by now — out until the totality-Star shatter because of a dirt-bike accident. But the Giants’ worst-in-the-NL record thus far isn’t just because of MadBum. They are a MadMess. They’re in the bottom third of the league in batting average, ERA and runs scored. There’s not just one thing that needs to be fixed. The problem? Everything. (Mike Oz)

SURPRISE: RYAN ZIMMERMAN, 1B, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
That Nationals offense was a nightmare to deal with in April, and it wasn’t Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy or even Trea Turner main the charge. Instead, it was a resurgent Ryan Zimmerman. No one knew what to expect from Zimmerman coming off three straight seasons plagued by injuries. What they received in April was the National League leader in domestic runs (11 – tied with Eric Thames), RBIs (30), average (.424), and slugging (.859). That is definitely surprising production. Perhaps it’s not sustainable, but above totality else it’s encouraging. (note Townsend)

Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t been himself at the plate thus far. (AP)

DISAPPOINTMENT: EDWIN ENCARNACION, 1B, CLEVELAND INDIANS
Encarnacion’s first month with his original club hasn’t gone that well. The first baseman is hitting just .198/.333/.333 over 118 plate appearances. Encarnacion is typically a behind starter, so there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic approximately a bounce-back, but it’s tough to disregard two glaring issues. First off, he’s whiffing a lot more than usual. Encarnacion has a 33.1 percent strikeout rate this year, high above his 16.5 percent career average. You might generally,normally write that off to small sample shenanigans, but the fact that Encarnacion is now 34 makes his struggles more worrisome. Is he simply having issues recognizing pitches right now, or are his strikeouts a sign that he’s lost bat speed and may not be able to adjust? (Chris Cwik)

SURPRISE: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
For totality the grief the D-backs fill gotten the past couple years approximately their roster construction, trades and their front office, you fill to hand it to them: They’re doing a lot better than everybody expected this season. They’re 17-13 entering play on Thursday. That’s better than the Cubs, Indians, Rangers — totality of whom are expected to be postseason teams. And better than division foes the Giants and Dodgers. Can the D-backs hold it up? We’ll see. It won’t be easy. But perhaps, possibly it’s time we start giving them a itsy-bitsy less grief. (Oz)

DISAPPOINTMENT: KANSAS CITY ROYALS
The Kansas City Royals’ window seems to be closing a lot sooner than previously anticipated. certain, it’s early and they can turn things around, but it’s tough to argue with the faction of fans who want to start selling. KC has scored just 75 runs total this season. It sits final in a weak AL Central (5.5 games back of the first site White Sox). As a team, the Royals fill the worst slash line in the majors (.214/.274/.341.). With Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain scheduled to hit free agency in 2018, it’s tough not to wonder whether selling now is the right scamper. (Blake Schuster)

Aaron Judge’s massive power is propelling the Yankees early. (AP)

SURPRISE: AARON JUDGE, OF, original YORK YANKEES
In the Bronx they expected a colossal star turn this season. Turns out, it just wasn’t from the guy they were most expecting. Gary Sanchez, the Yankees slugger arrived with totality the hype. But he quickly ended up on the disabled list. Instead, Aaron Judge has started a reckoning on MLB pitchers. The giant slugger — for real, he’s 6-foot-7 — leads MLB with 13 homers. No one doubted he’d hit some homers. That’s been his pedigree since college. But 13 already? And to assume, the Yankees considered starting him in the minors this season. (Oz)

DISAPPOINTMENT: RICK PORCELLO, SP, BOSTON RED SOX
Porcello was the surprise winner of the 2016 AL Cy Young award, but six starts into the 2017 season he isn’t doing much to defend it. He’s got four losses and a 4.46 ERA, which is more like the Porcello from six or seven years ago than the one we saw final year. The Red Sox need him to find that 2016 form again, and expeditiously. (Roscher)

SURPRISE: MIGUEL SANO, 3B/DH, MINNESOTA TWINS
Elsewhere on the list of hitters playing above their standards is Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano. A career .256 hitter, the 23-year-outmoded is batting .314 in 2017 with an OPS of 1.129. A lot of that has to execute with his ability to draw walks (20), but Sano’s eight domestic runs don’t damage, either. whether the Twins are going to start turning things around, they’ll need more players emulating Sano’s approach at the plate. (Schuster)

The Rangers bullpen has save them in a unfriendly site to start 2017. (AP)

DISAPPOINTMENT: TEXAS RANGERS
Texas seemed to stabilize things toward the halt of April, but a rough first two weeks save them in a sizable gap. The main issue has been a bullpen that doesn’t stop at springing leaks, it typically gushes. We saw that early on with then-closer Sam Dyson falling apart in his first three save chances, and then the floodgates opened again on Monday night in Houston. It doesn’t aid that Texas is bottom ten in fielding percentage, or that Adrian Beltre’s calf injury has kept him off the field totality season. (Townsend)

SURPRISE: BALTIMORE ORIOLES
It’s the same sage every year with the Orioles. Though the team is coming off another playoff appearance, most analysts picked them to finish fourth or fifth in the division. On paper, it makes sense. You can search for at the thin rotation, and over-reliance on power, and wonder whether the team can hold it up over the course of the entire season. Despite that, Baltimore has jumped out to yet another strong start. At this point, it would be foolish to doubt the club. They’ve succeeded using the same formula for years (strong bullpen, immense pop, weak rotation). totality those pieces are still in site. And while no one will forget Buck Showalter’s wild-card gaffe with Zach Britton, he typically does a distinguished, brilliant job managing his relievers. (Cwik)

DISAPPOINTMENT: JOSE BAUTISTA, OF, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
perhaps, possibly the rest of the league knew something the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t. After hitting the free-agent market and getting received like he was Lonzo Ball’s “signature shoe,” Bautista went back to the Blue Jays on a one-year deal with a couple of option years. whether Joey Bats has something to prove, he hasn’t done it yet. While the Blue Jays flounder in the AL East, Bautista is hitting just .196 with two homers. At 36 years outmoded, and coming off his worst season in approximately a decade, that’s not particularly encouraging. (Oz)

Ivan Nova has built off his moment half success. (AP)

SURPRISE: IVAN NOVA, SP, PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Nova had a strong moment half in 2016, main some to assume he was Ray Searage’s latest reclamation project. But even the most optimistic Nova supporters couldn’t fill expected this. Through 36 innings, Nova has a 1.50 ERA. He’s succeeded by keeping the ball on the ground and refusing to issue walks. Over those 36 innings, he walked just one batter (the opposing pitcher, in some measure). His exceptional control has led to some odd fun facts. Since Nova joined the Pirates, he has more total games than walks. Yes, we’re living in a world where Ivan Nova Fun Facts are a thing. Bet you didn’t see that coming. (Cwik)

DISAPPOINTMENT: original YORK METS
You nearly just want to give Mets fans a hug these days. No Noah Syndergaard, no Lucas Duda, no David Wright, no Yoenis Cespedes, no Steven Matz — you know, it might just be easier to name the players in original York who are healthy. Seldom will teams manufacture it through a season without any injuries or adversity, but for this to happen to the Mets totality at once is discouraged for baseball. The National League East was set up for one of the more intriguing division races in the majors this year. Now the road is clear for the Washington Nationals to flee absent with the crown and deprive fans of a thrilling summer-long battle. (Schuster)

SURPRISE: COLORADO ROCKIES
The Rockies were on a lot of people’s list for potential surprise teams before the season. But that was before Ian Desmond, David Dahl and Jon Gray went down to injury and Chad Bettis’ cancer returned. Seemingly snake-bit, the Rockies proved resilient by finishing April at 16-10. A significantly improved bullpen deserves a bulk of the credit. original closer Greg Holland finished April 11-for-11 in save chances and the trickle down seems to be a team that’s gaining confidence by the day. (Townsend)

Noah Syndergaard has struggled with injuries already. (AP)

DISAPPOINTMENT: NOAH SYNDERGAARD, SP, original YORK METS
The disappointment here isn’t in Syndergaard’s overall performance, but with his recklessness regarding his health. No matter how generous he thought he felt, refusing to acquire an MRI on the arm that provides his livelihood is massively silly. Hopefully he considers that as he recuperates from his partial lat tear. (Roscher)

SURPRISE: AVISAIL GARCIA, OF, CHICAGO WHITE SOX
The emergence of Avisail Garcia as one of the American League’s best hitters is nearly baffling. In a year where the Chicago White Sox seemed destined to lose 100 games, Garcia, who has a career average slash line of .265/.317/.715, has started the year hitting .370/.420/.609. His batting average is tops in the AL and he rounds out the top five in OBP, SLG and OPS. That’s impressive even before adding in the fact that Avi has been mostly slated as the No. 6 hitter in the lineup. And it’s one of the colossal reasons why the Sox fill suddenly found themselves in first site of the AL Central. (Schuster)

DISAPPOINTMENT: INJURIES
With MLB shortening the standard disabled list designation from 15 days to 10, we figured the number of players going on the DL would increase. That held trusty in April, with the Wall Street Journal reporting a record 105 players hit the DL in April. But it’s not just the volume, it’s the value of the players who fill suffered meaningful injuries. From David Price and Adrian Beltre, who haven’t even taken the field, to Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard, who are looking at extended absences, to Adam Eaton, whose season just ended with a torn ACL. Injuries are a fraction of the game, but it’s disappointing seeing them fill this much impact. (Townsend)

Ervin Santana has the Twins in generous shape entering May. (AP)

SURPRISE: ERVIN SANTANA, SP, MINNESOTA TWINS
After 12 years in the majors, we thought we’d seen the best and worst of Ervin Santana. It turns out he had more of his best to prove us. After six starts, he’s got a 0.66 ERA AND a total-game shutout. What else execute you fill to prove us, Ervin Santana? (Roscher)

DISAPPOINTMENT: PITTSBURGH PIRATES
After a poor 2016, the Pirates were supposed to return to form this year. That hasn’t happened just yet. Former MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen hasn’t recovered from final season’s stumble, Starling Marte got suspended and Tyler Glasnow is walking everyone who comes to the plate. The Pirates came into the year needing many things to depart right in order for them to acquire back to the postseason. We’re only a month into the year, but the team’s behind start may not be salvageable unless things turn quickly. (Cwik)

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