Sunday, July 29, 2012

100 Games in

As many teams reach the century mark in games played, let's take stock of what we've learned from the season's first 100 games played.
  • After piling up 106 losses last year, the lowly Houston Astros (34-68) are the worst team in baseball again.  After dealing Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, they essentially have no established major league talent.  I guess that's one way to rebuild; start from scratch and embrace the youth movement.  Let's just say they won't be making the playoffs anytime soon.
  • The Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals are tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in baseball at 60-40.  Business as usual for the Bronx Bombers, but surprising for the two NL teams given that both finished below .500 last year--the Nats were 80-81 and the Reds were 79-83.
  • Not even Theo Epstein's magic touch can save the Cubs from another season buried near the bottom of the standings.  As for Magic Johnson and the LA Dodgers?  That's another story.
  • Ten years later, Billy Beane is still a genius.  And there's something crazy happening in Oakland.  Just imagine if Manny Ramirez had made the team.
  • The Red Sox still can't get their act together.  And Red Sox/Yankees has lost its luster.
  • The Pirates are legitimately good.  For real, this time.  The Orioles, however, are not.
  • Joey Votto is the best pure hitter in baseball, Justin Verlander is the best pitcher, and Jose Bautista has the most power, but the title of best all-around player is up for grabs.  Trout?  Matt KempRyan Braun?  What about Josh Hamilton and Andrew McCutchen?  Whomever you choose, chances are he plays the outfield.
  • Adam Dunn is not "done," but Ichiro Suzuki is.
  • Andy Pettitte, like his old pal Roger Clemens, has a hard time walking away from the game.  He still hasn't reached Brett Favre territory.
  • Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are just as good as everyone said they would be.  So are international imports Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes, for that matter.
  • The addition of a second Wild Card has changed everything.  If it feels like every team is still in the playoff hunt, it's because many of them still are.  In the AL only three teams--Kansas City, Minnesota, and Seattle--are definitively (at least ten games back) out of the race.  Over in the NL, you have four--Chicago, Colorado, Houston, and San Diego.  That's why nobody's selling and everybody's buying as the trade deadline draws near.
  • The American League is still superior to the National League (based on Interleague play), the final score of the All-Star Game notwithstanding.
  • For the third year in a row, offense is down.  Pitching and defense still reign supreme
  • Other important trends; teams are shifting on defense more than ever before, batters are striking out more than ever before and players are spending more time on the DL than ever before.  Attendance is up 1,652 fans per game from the same time last year.
  • We need expanded use of instant replay, especially when October rolls around.  Umpires are still missing way too many calls.

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