At the beginning of every season, people forget that there are 162 games to play. It’s only natural. We value reason and place a lot of importance on observation to find meaning in things. Unfortunately, we have short memories, and so the five games we’ve watched in 2011 makes us forget about the far larger number of games we saw in 2010, 2009, 2008, etc.
We’re only a few games into this season, and because of the small sample size, we’re living in a mixed up, tangled up, shook up baseball world right now. The Blue Jays and Orioles are in first place in the AL East, while the Red Sox and Rays are in last. The defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants only won their second game of the season last night. And perhaps most unexpectedly, the Kansas City Royals are not only leading the AL Central, but they’re doing so with an exciting brand of baseball.
The same team that boasts Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur as starting outfielders, who combined for over 1000 plate appearances and a negative .6 WAR, is playing winning, exciting baseball. When not going to extra innings, as they’ve done in their last three games, the Royals are winning with their last at bats of the game, as they did three times to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and once to the Chicago White Sox.
A big part of this new found excitement is because of the bat of constantly underachieving prospect Alex Gordon.
Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer:
It really started back in December. We just tried to break his swing down. We started with nothing but drill work and how to get his swing flatter through the zone. We drilled just for a month solid before we even let him swing at pitches. We just wanted to get his mind focused on that shorter, flatter swing. He got off to a slow start in spring as he was getting his timing down, but then all of a sudden it started to click. He’s a different guy right now. A different man. His hands are working better. He’s still pulling the ball his fair share but he’s working the middle of the field more. His approach and swing path are much, much better. He’s staying closed and not flying his shoulders out. Good stuff. Really good stuff.
Really good stuff translates into a .419 OBP, .655 SLG, 1.075 OPS, .454 wOBA and a 184 wRC+ after six games. Obviously such numbers should be taken with a salt mine so early in the season, but it’s the first sign of life in a while from a prospect that many had given up on. And coupled with a farm system that everyone ranked as the best in baseball, it’s a sign of hope for a franchise and fan base that could certainly use a healthy dose of it.
One little moment of insanity: Last night, Jeff Francoeur was intentionally walked by the Chicago White Sox. Jose Bautista wasn’t intentionally walked a single time last season despite hitting 54 home runs.
And The Rest:
According to Keith Olbermann: “Since Bob Sheppard died last July 11 and the tribute to the absent and beloved Public Address Voice of Yankee Stadium became instead a memorial, Derek Jeter is hitting just .263 here with one homer, 10 RBI, a .338 On Base Percentage and a .349 Slugging Percentage in 43 games.”
Has there been a single article that’s come out about the Bonds trial that actually thought the prosecution stood a chance?
Your must click read of the day: In praise of baseball on the radio.
Judging by his comments, it’s safe to assume that Ryan Howard does not subscribe to the MLB Network.
Charlie Manuel understands why Phillies fans might want to boo Cole Hamels and it’s not just because they’re jealous of his dreaminess.
This article on Joe Girardi being wound tightly is pretty much only mentionable because the writer refers to him as Joey Looseleafs. That makes me smile.
And Looseleafs ain’t the only manager wound up a bit. The always reserved Tony LaRussa does not appreciate questions of that nature.
Robert Redford will star in an upcoming film about Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Way to go after the seventy year old grandma demographic.
Bill Lee talks about the Boston Red Sox and getting people out.
It’s the 21st Century, you’d think they’d be able to do a better job with reversible ball caps than this, no?
Finally, Giants closer Brian Wilson makes a rare media appearance. This would’ve been before giving up two hits, a walk and three earned runs in only two thirds of an inning in his 2011 debut last night: