By Andrew Perna
The third week of the Major League Baseball season is in the books, giving us some solid data to review. The first tenth of the season means a lot, and a little, at the same time. A poor start can hamper numbers over the course of the entire season if they are that drastic, but there is still plenty of time left to erase a slow beginning entirely.
On April 18, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a -14 run differential, sat fourth in the National League West and were in the midst of a four-game losing streak. The Colorado Rockies, meanwhile, were 11-4, with a +26 differential and six-straight wins. By the end of the season, the Dodgers won the division by 11 games and the Rockies finished 74-88. The first three weeks of the season essentially meant nothing in that division.
The Boston Red Sox, the eventual World Series champions, were 11-4 last April 18 and already in control of the American League East. Not much changed there.
Numbers, no matter how much they may change, are always fun to look at, especially when it comes to baseball. Here is a look at a statistical anomaly for each team.
Injuries have really hurt Arizona’s starting rotation. They have received just two quality starts from the staff after getting 87 a year ago.
Fresh off a new contract, Freddie Freeman is on pace to hit 43 home runs. His previous career-high is 23.
Chris Davis has more stolen bases (2) than home runs (1). He entered the season with 11 career steals and a combined 86 home runs over the last two years.
Boston Red Sox
Daniel Nava is hitting .130/.242/.259 after a breakout 2013 season in which he had a .303/.385/.445 slash line.
At 28, Emilio Bonifacio is hitting .339 with a .771 OPS. For his career, he has marks of .264 and .665.
Chicago White Sox
Alexei Ramirez has been extremely valuable to the White Sox this month. In addition to a sparking .381/.426/.635 slash line, he has already contributed 1.2 WAR to his team. He’s halfway to the 2.5 WAR he had last season.
Joey Votto’s numbers project out to 41 homers and 111 walks this season. He had 24 dingers and 135 BBs in 2013.
David Murphy is slugging .535 in 13 games for the Indians. In his career, which spans 862 games, he has a .442 slugging percentage.
In his first full season in the National League, Justin Morneau is hitting .346/.386/.538. Over the course of the 2013 season, with the Twins and Pirates, he hit .259/.323/.411.
After knocking in 137 runs last season, Miguel Cabrera is on pace for 81 RBIs.
Jason Castro is hitting .213, well below his .253 career mark, and he’s on pace to nearly double his home run total from 2013 (18).
Kansas City Royals
Salvador Perez is on pace to hit 81 doubles this season. He had 49 over his previous 253 games.
Los Angeles Angels
Raul Ibanez has surpassed 100 RBIs four times in his career, but not since the 2008 season. He projects out to have 130 RBI at 41.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Juan Uribe has contributed 1.2 WAR to the Dodgers, the second-highest total in the Majors. Over the course of 148 games with the Giants in 2010, he had 1.3.
Giancarlo Stanton is averaging .069 walks per plate appearance. That’s nearly half his career mark and significantly lower than his .147 BB/PA in 2013.
The starting rotation has been strong over the first three weeks. Milwaukee’s ERA has dropped more than a full run (3.84 to 2.73) from last season.
Brian Dozier five home runs through his first 15 games. The infielder had a total of 24 home runs in his first two Major League seasons. After hitting a home run every 52.7 at-bats in 2012, Dozier is hitting them at a 11.6 clip in 2014.
New York Mets
With a healthy Matt Harvey, the Mets had a 3.77 ERA last season. With their ace sidelined, the mark has jumped to 4.33.
New York Yankees
After posting a .683 OPS during their disappointing 2013 season, the Yankees lead baseball with a .783 mark behind Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Alfonso Soriano.
Jed Lowrie has a career .337 OBP, but has gotten on base nearly half of the time (.477) with the Athletics through 15 games.
Chase Utley is hitting .462/.517/.769 through 58 plate appearances. Over the last four seasons, Utley, who has dealt with knee issues, hit .270/.361/.446 in 432 games.
Pedro Alvarez has struck out 6.3 times for every home run in his career, but that figure is down to just 2.7 in the early going.
San Diego Padres
This might actually stick, but Andrew Cashner’s 1.27 ERA in his first four starts is nearly three times lower than his career mark of 3.35.
San Francisco Giants
Bruce Bochy’s club has a 4.06 K/BB ratio, the best rate in baseball, after ranking 22nd (2.41) in 2013.
Robinson Cano is slugging .356 in his first 59 at-bats with the Mariners. He had a .504 slugging percentage in 5,791 plate appearances with the Yankees.
St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter led all players with 55 doubles in 2013, but has yet to hit a two-bagger.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays had a .737 OPS and .257 batting average last season, but are hitting just .221 with a .659 OPS in 2014.
Prince Fielder has contributed -0.9 WAR in his first few weeks as a member of the Rangers. He has had at least 1.3 WAR in each of his seven previous seasons, including 6.0 to the Brewers in 2009.
Toronto Blue Jays
Edwin Encarnacion who had the third-most home runs (36) in the Major Leagues in 2013, has yet to hit one this season. He averaged 14.7 AB/HR last year and led baseball with a 12.9 average in 2012.
The pitching staff has a 4.10 ERA, but averages 10.22 strikeouts per nine innings. The Nationals had one of the best ERAs (3.59) in baseball last season, but struck out 7.69 per nine.
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By RealGM Staff Report
The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA).
In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.
All statistics are through Sunday, April 13.
Rankings from the end of the 2013 regular season are in parenthesizes.
1. (17) Milwaukee Brewers – 5.71
It's no surprise the Brewers hold the top spot in our first rankings of the season. They've won nine straight, including 6-0 on the road, and have the lowest ERA (1.80) in baseball.
2. (7) Oakland Athletics – 4.89
Sonny Gray has a 0.95 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched (three starts).
3. (3) Atlanta Braves – 4.67
A long-term deal hasn't ruined Freddie Freeman's drive. He's hitting .442/.519/.814 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games.
4. (4) Los Angeles Dodgers – 4.23
Zack Greinke is nice to have when Clayton Kershaw is hurting. The right-hander has a 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings (three starts).
5. (11) Washington Nationals – 4.22
All five of Washington's losses have come against Atlanta in the early going.
6. (27) Seattle Mariners – 3.88
Robinson Cano has the Mariners in contention -- for now. The second baseman is hitting .333/.417/.381 without a home run in 11 games.
7. (20) San Francisco Giants – 3.82
The Giants have a .751 OPS, good for eighth in the game. Brandon Belt's five home runs (.577 slugging) have paced the offense.
T8. (10) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.56
If they decide to trade David Price, Chris Archer may be ready to assume his place atop the rotation. The young righty has a 1.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings.
-- (16) Los Angeles Angels – 3.56
Pujols has three home runs after hitting just 17 all of last season, but he still has a troubling slash line .240/.309/.500.
10. (1) Detroit Tigers – 3.54
Rajai Davis has been an underrated addition to the Tigers. He has five steals for the slow-footed club and is hitting .345/.412/.448 in eight games.
11. (26) Philadelphia Phillies – 3.47
12. (8) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.45
13. (23) New York Yankees – 3.44
14. (5) Cincinnati Reds – 3.43
15. (19) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.33
16. (29) Miami Marlins – 3.30
17. (2) Boston Red Sox – 3.19
18. (18) Colorado Rockies – 3.15
19. (T24) San Diego Padres – 3.13
20. (12) Kansas City Royals – 2.78
21. (6) St. Louis Cardinals – 2.77
22. (T24) Chicago White Sox – 2.68
23. (13) Cleveland Indians – 2.67
24. (9) Texas Rangers – 2.58
25. (21) Chicago Cubs – 2.50
26. (15) Baltimore Orioles – 2.38
27. (28) Minnesota Twins – 1.95
28. (30) Houston Astros – 1.80
29. (22) New York Mets – 1.13
30. (14) Arizona Diamondbacks – 1.12
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By Andrew Perna
The Cardinals have been to the postseason in four of the last five years, including two trips to the World Series. Despite their considerable success, the division remains very competitive. The National League Central was the only group to send three teams to the playoffs in 2013, with the Pirates and Reds joining the fray. The Brewers might have been on the fringe of that race if it had not been for Ryan Braun's suspension.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals ran into a Boston buzz saw last October, missing out on their second World Series title in three years. Major League Baseball's model franchise, they made logical, calculated moves to fortify the roster this winter. Saddled with young arms and the fifth-best ERA (3.42) in 2013, they added to their offense. They had a strong OPS (.733), but lost Carlos Beltran, so they added Jhonny Peralta to help fill that void and Peter Bourjos to add some speed. (only the Tigers had fewer steals).
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Peter Bourjos: .274/.333/.377 with 3 HRs, 12 RBIs in 196 PAs
Jhonny Peralta: .303/.358/.457 with 11 HRs, 55 RBIs in 448 PAs
Mark Ellis: .270/.323/.351 with 6 HRs, 48 RBIs in 480 PAs
Pleased with a strong, young core, the Pirates will bring largely the same roster to the field. Pedro Alvarez broke out in 2013, hitting .233/.296/.473 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs, helping Andrew McCutchen pace the offense. Pittsburgh will have to replace A.J. Burnett, who had a 3.30 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 191 innings, but re-signing him at 37 wouldn't have guaranteed the same level of production. They expect a big jump forward from their young pitchers.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Edinson Volquez: 5.71 ERA, 1.585 WHIP, 142 Ks in 170.1 IP
Robert Andino: .184/.253/.237 with 0 HRs, 4 RBIs in 85 PAs
Like the Pirates, the Reds didn't tinker much with a roster that was good enough to make the playoffs. They added some bench pieces and made their biggest move when they signed Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million contract extension. The aggressiveness of Joey Votto has been a big topic of discussion, but I'm not sure I'd mess with a guy that puts up a .305/.435/.491 slash line. He hit 24 homers and .291/.477/.455 with runners in scoring position last season.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Skip Schumaker: .263/.332/.322 with 2 HRs, 30 RBIs in 356 PAs
Brayan Pena: .297/.315/.397 with 4 HRs, 22 RBIs in 243 PAs
Milwaukee had a below-average OPS (.708) with Ryan Braun limited to 61 games. If he's the same hitter without PEDs, his .312/.374/.564 career line is more than enough to lift the offense into the top third of baseball. As for the pitching staff, it ranked 16th with a 3.84 ERA. A better Kyle Lohse and effective Matt Garza would make the staff much stronger. They could contend, even in this division, if the cards fall their way.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Mark Reynolds: .220/.306/.393 with 21 HRs, 67 RBIs in 504 PAs
Matt Garza: 3.82 ERA, 1.236 WHIP, 136 Ks in 155.1 IP
Theo Epstein didn't want to mess with Chicago's long-term plan, so he signed a host of mid-level free agents to put together a roster. This season will be more about a possible Jeff Samardzija trade than meaningful baseball once the weather gets warmer. The farm system is very highly regarded, but the front office insists they won't rush anyone to the Majors. Good idea, but a hard sell.
Key Additions (2013 Stats):
Justin Ruggiano: .222/.298/.396 with 18 HRs, 50 RBIs in 472 PAs
Jose Veras: 3.02 ERA, 1.069 WHIP, 60 Ks in 62.2 IP
Jason Hammel: 4.97 ERA, 1.457 WHIP, 96 Ks in 139.1 IP
Emilio Bonifacio: .243/.295/.331 with 3 HRs, 31 RBIs in 461 PAs
How We Think They'll Stack Up:
1. Cardinals: The pitching staff will be very hard to hit.
2. Pirates: Ceiling is the division, but floor could be third or fourth.
3. Brewers: It all hinges on Ryan Braun and Matt Garza.
4. Reds: Will Brandon Phillips finish the season in Cincinnati?
5. Cubs: Check back in a few seasons...
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The Yankees, who have now spent close to $500 million on free agents, landed Masahiro Tanaka.
The Tigers finished the regular season atop our rankings, followed by the Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals.
As our rankings continue to settle for the 2013 season, the top is littered with World Series contenders.
Engaged in a dogfight with the Cardinals and Pirates for the NL Central title, the Reds have moved into the top five this week.
The Red Sox, who have surged to second in our rankings, have a chance to help keep the Yankees from the playoffs this weekend.
The Cardinals, Pirates and Reds rank fifth, sixth and seventh in our rankings as they battle for supremacy in the NL Central.