MLB Thoughts – April 16, 2010

For whatever it’s worth, I think it’s very cool that Major League Baseball has developed Jackie Robinson Day. I don’t want to wax poetic, but Robinson was more than a great ballplayer; he was a great American. Robinson is one of my favorite players ever and I’m glad that generations of fans to come will hear and appreciate his story.

A quick glance at today’s standings reveals quite a few surprises. We all knew the Cardinals and Phillies would be good, but San Francisco? Who saw this coming? Well, I hate to toot my own horn, but I did write the following in my NL West Preview a few weeks back:

I think their pitching is good enough for the Giants to contend for the division title.

Horn tooting complete.

I know it’s only a couple weeks into the season. And I don’t want to be that guy. You know, the guy whose team is off to a hot start in your fantasy baseball league so he’s already started making posts about how brilliant he was to predict Jorge Cantu’s record-breaking RBI pace. You know the guy I’m talking about. But it is satisfying for the Giants to prove me right, at least in the early going. The jury is still out on whether or not they’ll be able to put up enough runs over the long haul to be competitive.

And how bad are the Astros and Orioles? Through two weeks of play, these two teams have won as many games combined as Barry Zito. That’s bad. You have to think the Astros will play a little better when Fat Elvis Lance Berkman gets healthy. But what’s the Orioles’ excuse? Lost it in the lights? Still reeling from the loss of Aubrey Huff? Thought we were still playing spring training games?

Perhaps the most surprising development of the young season has been the poor play of the LA Angels. Not only are they off to a horrendous 3-7 start, they’re sitting at -24 on the run differential board (meaning they’ve been outscored by 24 runs already this season). That puts them in not-so-lofty territory: only the Astros, Pirates, and Orioles have a worse run differential. When you’re getting outscored at the same pace as the Washington Nationals (or the Natinals, if you prefer), it’s never a good thing.

Is it too early for a Ted Williams .400 watch? Don’t tell Martin Prado. According to Jayson Stark, since becoming the Braves starting 2B last June, Prado has put up a .331 batting average and an OBP of .380, better than every National Leaguer not named Pujols, Helton or Hanley.

Pitching matchup of the weekend: Sunday’s Jays / Red Sox tilt at Fenway featuring Matt Garza and Jon Lester. I’d bet my Ozzie Smith rookie card this will be the TBS game on Sunday, so tune in and catch two of the best young pitchers in the game square off against each other.

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