We are now roughly 1/5th of the way through the Major League season and this season has been full of surprises, ups and downs, and general mayhem. We’ve seen perfect games, no-hitters, 4 home-run contests, appearances of top prospects, and intentional plunkings.
I love baseball!
But what I love most about the game is the parity. Sure, there are some teams that always seem to be near the top, but at this time of the year, there are also a handful of surprise teams making improbable, and sometimes short-lived, runs to the top of the division.
With that in mind, I thought I would take a look at some of the teams I am buying and selling at this stage of the season; the over-achievers, the under-achievers, and the real deal teams of the league.
Washington Nationals – Selling
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Nationals and the way they are playing the game. And yes, I’m watching the Bryce Harper show the same way I used to enjoy the “Tiger Watch”. Their pitching is absolutely phenomenal, with Strasburg, Detwiler, Gonzalez, and Zimmerman all showing the talent that makes them one of the best young rotations in baseball. That said I’m selling because I don’t think this offense can do enough to sustain the momentum. You cannot rely on pitching every night of the week and a team that ranks 27th in runs scored and 24th in average is not going to be there to bail out the pitcher when he fails to carry the load.
This is a good, young team, but they are still a year or so away from contending for the long haul.
Los Angeles Angels – Buying
At 14-18, the Angels have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball, and with Texas having such a solid start to the year, they have dug themselves a big hole to start the season. Still, this is a team that is underperforming more than any in baseball and the signs are pointing to them coming out of it, as they have won 7 of their last 10 games. Remember, this is a team whose best hitter, Albert Pujols, is swinging the bat to the tune of .198 with just 1 home run and 11 RBI. They also can expect better things out of rotation stalwarts Ervin Santana and Dan Haren, both of whom have been inconsistent but have shown flashes of brilliance during the year.
You just can’t keep a team with this much talent down.
Boston Red Sox – Selling
Well, it appears that the Red Sox have figured out a way to beat the new MLB Draft slotting system, as they are bound and determined to secure a high pick after a 12-18 start. They have the second worst ERA in all of baseball and the struggles of their top three starters (Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz) are not showing any signs of getting better at this stage. You can tell that times are desperate when fans start looking forward to the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka from Tommy John surgery to stabilize the rotation.
The offense is doing its job, but when you have to consistently score 7-8 runs to stay in a game, there is something else offensive going on.
Cleveland Indians – Selling
Sometimes it is hard to justify selling on a first place team, but the numbers do all the talking for me with the Indians. Despite ranking 18th in team hitting and 21st in team pitching, this team has managed to place itself atop the mediocre American League Central division. That said, is it just dumb luck that Cleveland is holding on to the division lead or is it more of a bi-product of the disappointing season thus far for the Detroit Tigers?
I’m more apt to believe the latter and banking on Detroit making a similar run to the one they did to close out 2011, while Cleveland flirts with the division title, but fades by August.
Toronto Blue Jays – Buying
If there is a team that has been dying for the chance at a division change or an additional playoff spot, it is the Toronto Blue Jays. This is a team that has been on the cusp of contending only to suffer because of the division they play in, getting leaped by the Tampa Bay Rays along the way. Still, there is a lot to like in Toronto, with some electrifying young players (Brett Lawrie, Eric Thames), Edwin Encarnacion having a career year, Jose Bautista set to get back to being Joey Bats, and a top quality, young pitching staff coming into its own, the Blue Jays are poised to snap up that extra wild card slot.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Buying
Remember when people were trying to argue that Matt Kemp should have won the MVP award over Ryan Braun a year ago, and that was before the PED controversy? Well, Kemp is out to prove them why by going out and playing as the MVP this year. But the Dodgers are so much more than Kemp. Andre Ethier is one of the more exciting young bats in baseball and is in a walk year. The top four starters in the rotation all have an ERA under 3.32, and have the third lowest starters ERA in the majors.
And now with new ownership decided, the team can focus on winning games and winning back the Los Angeles market share back from the Angels.