The first week of the 2018 Major League Baseball season is in the books. The sample size is very small, but that does not mean that it is too soon to react to what happened. Since it has been 10 days, the article will look at 10 storylines and determine if they are real or fake.
1. The Dodgers are struggling.
Early on Clayton Kershaw is 0-2, Kenley Jansen has blown a save and lost a game, and they only have managed to score 27 runs in 7 games. The Dodgers are losing to their division rivals and looking terrible in the process.
Verdict: Mostly fake, with elements of reality because they may be destined for the wild card instead of a division title. The season is very long and the Dodgers will be buyers at the trade deadline. Turner will come back and they will probably win in the vicinity of 88-90 games yet again.
2. Shohei Otani has been a revelation.
Otani won his first start and featured 98 MPH+ gas throughout. He then hit a home run in three straight games. The pitcher-hitter combination that Otani features has not been seen since Babe Ruth.
Verdict: Real. Otani will be a major factor in the 2018 season and he needs to hit much higher in the batting order than 8th.
3. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.
Out of the gate, the Pirates’ offense has scored the second most runs in the entire MLB. The Pirates started the season by getting a sweep on the road and looked strong in the process.
Verdict: Fake. Trevor Williams and Steven Brault will not continue to dominate, and their offense is not really this strong. Playing the Tigers and Reds makes them look better than they are.
4. The Red Sox only have one loss.
The Boston Red Sox have jumped out to the best record in the MLB. Their pitching staff has only allowed 19 runs in 8 games on their way to 7 wins in a row.
Verdict: Real. If David Price is back, which he appears to be, they will be a factor all year. They will win the AL East.
5. Bryce Harper has 5 home runs already.
Rumors are that Harper is looking at a $400 million-dollar payday at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent. Harper is off to a great start in the first week and has the league lead in home runs.
Verdict: Real. Harper is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award. If he stays healthy a 50 home run, 125 RBI season is viable.
6. The Atlanta Braves have the most runs in the MLB.
The Braves have 56 runs in the first 8 games of the season, and if you were betting the over on them every game, you would be in good shape. Freddie Freeman is an MVP candidate, and if he stays healthy, he can rival the aforementioned Bryce Harper all season.
Verdict: Fake. Preston Tucker, Ryan Flaherty, and Darby Swanson will not all hit over .367 (or even .267 for that matter). They may score some runs, but this many is a fluke.
7. The Twins batting average against is the lowest in the majors.
The Twins’ pitching staff has held their opponents to a .168 batting average. Three of their four starters have had a quality start, Jose Berrios has the lone complete game in the entire MLB, and three of their relievers have not yet allowed a run.
Verdict: Fake. Not only are the pitchers not that good, but they will not be playing in 37 degree weather for much longer. The cold dampens the offense significantly, and as the spring heats up, the Twins pitchers will cool down.
8. The Indians are not hitting.
Cleveland batters are hitting .157 so far this season and Lonnie Chisenhall is the team leader at .235. Let’s just get to the verdict.
Verdict: Fake. There is no way this continues. The Indians are much too good for this to be anything other than a result of a small sample size.
9. Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Oakland are in last place.
The three teams are a combined 6-17 after the first 10 days of the season and are already looking up the standings at their divisional foes. In fact, the Rays and A’s are a combined 10 games out of first place, which seems impossible to have happened this quickly.
Verdict: Real. It is going to be a long season for these teams and their fans. The A’s will probably end up as the best of the last place teams, for whatever that is worth.
10. Miami, Cincinnati and San Diego are also in last place.
The bottom feeders in the NL are somehow even worse than their AL compatriots by starting out 6-18 in the early going. It is ugly early for those three teams.
Verdict: Real. I do not see any of the three teams getting out of the cellar this year. Miami’s pitching staff started out well, but that is not sustainable. They are going to lose over 100 games easily.
The 2018 MLB season is only 10 days old, but we can still jump to conclusions about what is real and not. Some teams are in for a long season, while other slow starters will see better days ahead.