There is a difference between panic and concern. When a baseball team, expected to contend, loses more games than it wins in April – concern is warranted. There can be reason for concern though it is too early to for a baseball team to panic. Panic is almost never worth the effort, as it too often results in throwing good money after bad and making changes simply for the sake of change.
The Washington Nationals aren’t quite panicking over their slowish start to the season. They are tinkering with their lineup here and there and fans and columnists (in D.C., they’re the same thing) fret about the pitching staff and slow starts and so on and so forth. The Nats must know their success in 2012 was built on both talent and luck. Riding several career years while their pitching staff was essentially free of injuries is not a repeatable phenomenon.
The 2013 Nationals are learning this very early. A few injuries and returns to Earth from players who posted career numbers in 2012 and the team sits at .500. They are still the most talented team in baseball but it won’t always be as easy as it was in 2012.
In 2012, the Los Angeles Angels seemed to prove the old adage about losing a title in April correct. In 2013, they are replicating last year’s early season futility with laser-like precision. Through 21 game this season, the Angels are 8-13. Through 21 games last year, the Angels were…7-14. Progress!
One very key difference exists between the 2012 Angels and the 2013 Angels – there is no Mike Trout lurking in the minor leagues, waiting to burst forth with 10 Win season, powering the Angels to a 82-59 finish. Instead, the Angels face to proposition of soldiering through the season with a very long disabled list and a very hobbled Albert Pujols.
The Angels are in trouble, not because of the games they’ve already lost but because of the games they project to win over the remainder of the season. The team is flawed. It was flawed in the winter, injuries suffered in the early days of the season opened these cracks in the facade ever wider.
At the risk of pounding the panic button, the Angels should be worried. The offense should find another gear, though it is already pretty spectacular. Of the 11 players to total 30 plate appearances, only two are below average by wRC+ – and one of those players is Josh Hamilton.
With Jered Weaver out (and something of a question mark when he returns) and the minor league cupboard bare when it comes time to upgrade, the offense is going to need to be even better to support a pitching staff so thin – a statement which would be true in April, June, and September.
And the rest
Super Two cutoff. Woo! Count the days, Wil Myers.
— CAA Baseball (@CAA_Baseball) April 25, 2013
Will Leitch gets all up in your fanbase with the value judgments and the like. [Sports on Earth]
Why Pythag record isn’t everything, and in the early stages of the season is might well be nothing. [Cameron at Fangraphs]
Cool interactive charts, plotting strikeout rate and whiff rate. [Baseball Analytics]
Too many homers/strikeouts for the Barves, you guys [DOB]