MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals

Despite all the rainouts and postponements, the baseball season is a week old. Most teams have six games under their belt, some seven, and the poor old Tigers have played just five.

It is obviously way too soon to draw any grand or sweeping conclusions about the year. There are hot starts and cold April slumps well under way, but nothing one good day at the dish can’t fix. Any time a couple base hits can raise your batting average by 50 or 100 points, you know it’s early.

It is not a time for making bold pronouncements about the season but there is no reason we cannot shine a light on some of the early season quirks and oddities.

Who will be the last to K?

To qualify for the batting title, a hitter must record 3.1 plate appearances for every team game. There are 205 “qualified” hitters so far in 2014. Only three guys are yet to strike out.

Andrelton Simmons, Dioner Navarro, and Seth Smith. The kings of contact.

Navarro holds the rare distinction of putting the ball in play every time he’s come to the plate. Zero walks, zero strikeouts in 25 plate appearances. A very stark contrast to the Blue Jays starting catcher from a year ago.

Andrelton is one of only a handful of players who can claim a 100$ contact rate on pitches thrown inside the rule book strike zone. Others with unblemished swing rates include Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler.

Who will be the last man standing? Who will last the longest without striking out? Gotta be Navarro. No way Smith can hold out, even in part time duty. Simmons plays too often to hold up in this chase for the 0% K rate.

Which Royal will break their duck?

The Kansas City Royals are the only team in baseball yet to hit a home run. The Yankees got on the homer board via Brett Gardner, so safe to say it could be anyone on the Royals.

Easy money is on Billy Butler or Alex Gordon, the two best KC hitters. Perhaps Eric Hosmer will get all his moving parts in a row first? Mike Moustakas for those with some gamble in them?

Bold prediction: the Royals won’t hit a home run all season long. Not one. Okay, that’s silly. Real prediction for their first dinger? James Shields.

Which Met will steal their first base?

While the Royals are the most power stricken club in baseball, the Mets are the only team without a stolen base in their file. Which is strange because they have many terrible players who should probably try to steal bases to salvage some shred of value at the big league level. Yet Juan Lagares is the only Met to attempt a steal, and he was obviously thrown out.

Eric Young Jr. is the easy pick for stolen base, but you cannot, sadly, steal first. This makes it difficult to record additional stolen bases and EYJR has been on base a grand total of three times so far this year.

The Mets stolen base will come from…David Wright. He literally has to do everything for this team. Everything. Steal the bases, hit the home runs, smile for the cameras, pitch the ninth. His work is never done.

Weak contact crew

ESPN Stats & Info tracks a stat called “well hit average”, which is the number of well hit balls a batter manages. Right now, the average WHA is .175, which makes sense I suppose. It’s all tracked and recorded via video, so there is an element of scorer bias in this. Which is probably why it isn’t publicly available.

But we’re not looking for predictive stats that might unlock breakout stars, we’re pointing and laughing at an esoteric misfortune. According to their measure, seven hitters are yet to record a well-hit ball. They are:

That is quite a varied list. Who will be the last name on it? I think BJ Upton is the easiest pick but there are some sneaky bad hitters represented here. Poor Nick Markakis used to BE something but now he’s…here. Alex Avila? That was a nice year he had, whenever it was that he had a nice year. Alfonso Soriano was my fantasy sleeper who remains fast asleep.

Obviously, though, BJ Upton is the odds-on favorite to go the longest with hanging out some laundry. Let’s stick with what we know.

The Moose

It is time now to acknowledge poor Mike Moustakas, the only every day player without a hit in 2014. Nobody ever notices when you take an “oh fer twenty” in the middle of the year but stick that slump at the beginning of the season? Yikes.

Everybody can see the .000 average when you come to the plate, Moose. We can all see and bb we feel for you. It will come, Mike. It will come. You have three walks – that’s something. A walk is as good as a hit, they always say.

Don’t let it eat you up inside. Just do your thing, think back to your success in the pas…

Good luck, Mike.