9 players ‘on pace’ for insane seasons

April 22nd, 2019

We’re not predicting Christian Yelich is going to hit 92 home runs or that Shane Greene is going to save 81 games or that Tyler Glasnow is going to go 29-0. As for Byron Buxton racking up 102 doubles, why not? That one seems strangely possible.

We’re simply saying that every baseball season delivers some surprises, and this first month of 2019 has been no different. These fast early paces seldom hold up over the grind of a sixth-month, 162-game season, but it’s great fun to consider the possibility of nine super seasons based on current pacing:

(See if you can find the super season that just seems routine for this particular player.)

Christian Yelich, Brewers: 92 homers, 218 RBIs

The 2018 National League Most Valuable Player is 27 years old and still getting better. He took a huge step forward last season and has gotten even better in '19. His numbers -- .353 batting average, 13 home runs -- have a video game quality to them. At this point, it would be a mistake to doubt him.

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 74 homers, 243 hits, 189 RBIs

One moment he’s robbing Yelich of a homer on Sunday afternoon. Moments later, he’s hitting one of his own to put the Dodgers in front. Those two plays sum up the start Bellinger is off to -- .424 batting average, 1.382 OPS. Two years after being named the NL Rookie of the Year, Bellinger just may be the greatest threat to Yelich repeating as the NL MVP.

Khris Davis, A’s: 68 homers, 142 RBIs

He hits home runs. Lots of ‘em. He’s not a one-tool offensive player, but his No. 1 tool happens to be the most valued commodity in offensive baseball at the moment. In the last four seasons, no big leaguer has hit more home runs, and that’s why the A’s just signed him through the 2021 season. He made hitting 48 home runs look routine last season. He’s even better this year.

Tyler Glasnow, Rays: 29-0

You say you want to kill the “win” for pitchers? OK, fine. We acknowledge wins are largely a function of time and place. But can we at least let this thing play out in 2019 and see how far a coupe of guys can push this thing? Regardless of how you feel about the win, a 29-0 season would still be a dazzling accomplishment. (Seattle lefty Marco Gonzales is, like Glasnow, 4-0. He’s on a 26-0 pace, which wouldn’t be too shabby, either.)

Shane Greene, Tigers: 81 saves, 97 games

The Tigers have 10 wins, and Greene has a save in all of them. He has allowed eight runners to reach in 11 innings and held opposing hitters to a .108 batting average. If 97 appearances seems a little much, endurance is one of his calling cards. His 149 outings since the start of 2017 are tied for 10th-most in MLB.

Byron Buxton, Twins: 102 doubles

This guy could do it because his "singles" may not end up being singles. He’s fast enough and confident enough to challenge any outfielder at any time. So far, this season has been pretty much what we hoped for from a player who was once the No. 1 prospect in the land and is still only 25.

Adalberto Mondesi, Royals: 29 triples

He has the kind of speed that dazzles, the kind of speed that can change games. That’s the thing the Royals hope Mondesi can build a more complete game around. He’s not there yet, but if he can gain more strike-zone discipline and contact rate, he could be special.

Max Scherzer, Nationals: 356 strikeouts

Seeing how he has led the NL in strikeouts the last three seasons, his 44 in five games seems pretty normal. Scherzer is one of those guys whose every start is a must-see event. His combination of talent and emotion make him one of the guys every other player appreciates and wants to compete against.

Mike Trout, Angels: 44 homers, 103 RBIs, 103 runs, 29 doubles, 147 walks, 66 strikeouts

These would be outrageous numbers for plenty of players. For baseball’s best, they’re another day at the office. He’s far enough into his career -- 1,084 games -- that we can all now appreciate that we’re seeing one of the best players of all-time.