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30 teams, 30 first impressions as season begins

April 1, 2018

The Red Sox and Brewers are rolling, the Braves and White Sox are mashing, and Jose Altuve is off to a ridiculously great start. Max Scherzer is his usual dominant self, and the Yankees have a pocketful of worries.We've waited so long for baseball to return that we savor every

The Red Sox and Brewers are rolling, the Braves and White Sox are mashing, and Jose Altuve is off to a ridiculously great start. Max Scherzer is his usual dominant self, and the Yankees have a pocketful of worries.
We've waited so long for baseball to return that we savor every moment of these first few days of a new regular season. We overstate the importance of these games even though we constantly remind ourselves it's just a tiny slice of the regular season. We do this every season no matter what.
Here now, 30 teams, 30 first impressions:
Braves: Shortstop Dansby Swanson is hitting .357, and if Atlanta fans are looking for reasons to be optimistic, start here. He hit .156 last April and had a lost season, so a hot start this year is a must. Oh, and there are waves of talent on the way.
Marlins: Kids here, kids everywhere. Rookie third baseman Brian Anderson is hitting .333, and a pair of young left-handers, Caleb Smith and Dillon Peters, had excellent first starts.
Mets: If Yoenis Cespedes was your National League MVP Award pick, you love what you've seen so far. Does a .500 OBP ring your bell?

Nationals: That's a microscopic 0.98 ERA for a rotation that's doing a real good imitation of the NL's best.
Phillies: Manager Gabe Kapler is redefining aggressive, having used 21 pitchers in 28 innings. He even took out one guy before he had another warmed up on Saturday. Love you, Gabe, but you gotta take a breath.
Brewers: The new guys, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, were 15-for-28 in a three-game sweep in San Diego, and Milwaukee just might be as good as advertised.

Cardinals:Jose Martinez forced manager Mike Matheny to write his name in the lineup last season and could be doing the same thing this year, with a .455 batting average. Even his outs are hard: On Sunday, he put three balls in play with an exit velocity above 100 mph, and he had zero hits to show for it.
Cubs: Where do we play him? How much do we play him? Kyle Schwarber's 1.242 OPS means manager Joe Maddon will play him somewhere.
Pirates: First baseman Josh Bell is batting .462. Pretty good for a 25-year-old who was third in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting last season. Also a great sign for someone who could anchor the middle of the Bucs' lineup for a long time.
Reds: Scooter Gennett is hitting .538 and proving himself to be one of the more valuable waiver claims -- from Milwaukee last year in his case -- in recent history. When Joey Votto gets hot -- and he will -- Cincinnati will have a variety of ways to pressure opponents.
D-backs: Is there a hotter player than Nick Ahmed? At the very least, he's on the real short list with a .455 batting average and a 1.409 OPS.

Dodgers: It's all about the pitching, right? The Dodgers' rotation has allowed one run in 25 innings. Same as it ever was.
Giants:Joe Panik may not be Superman, but he's batting .400 and won two games with home runs. He'll do until the real thing comes along.
Padres: This is the Freddy Galvis San Diego hoped it was getting. His hot start has given the Padres hope that once William Myers, Eric Hosmer, etc., start to hit, things will improve.
Rockies: Center fielder Charlie Blackmon is off to a great start with three home runs and a 1.476 OPS. Especially big for him as he begins a contract year.
Blue Jays: Sometimes it only takes one insanely hot player to keep you afloat, and that's what first baseman Justin Smoak is for Toronto right now with two home runs -- including a game-winning grand slam on Sunday -- and a .467 batting average to help the Blue Jays earn a four-game split with the Yankees.

Orioles: The bullpen did a nice job with a 2.77 ERA as the O's lost two of three to the Twins to open the season. Only one of manager Buck Showalter's seven relievers has allowed more than one run.
Rays: Tampa Bay lost three of four to Boston despite a 2.25 ERA, the second-lowest in in the AL. The Rays are seeking offense other than third baseman Matt Duffy, who is hitting .375.
Red Sox:Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello strung together 18 scoreless innings in the first three games of the season, and that's the only number that matters for this team. Everything else is taken care of.
Yankees: Two numbers. One is a 1.31 ERA for the rotation, which is the one that counts. Here's another: .209 team batting average. Offense is one thing the Yanks should not fret about.
Indians:Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez have two hits between them in the first three games of the season. Moral of this story: They will hit. And so will the Tribe.
Royals: Welcome back, Moose. Third baseman Mike Moustakas has a .444 OBP with a double, triple and walk in two games.
Tigers:Jose Cabrera hit his first home run of the season Sunday and raised his batting average to .357. He remains an absolute joy to watch.
Twins: Remember how Minnesota focused on upgrading the rotation? Starters Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi haven't allowed an earned run in 21 innings.

White Sox: No team is happier about its start than this one. Scoring 18 runs and hitting seven home runs in a two-game sweep of the Royals, and third baseman Matt Davidson is hitting .571. Waves more talent on the way.
Angels:Shohei Ohtani has gotten a hit as a DH and gotten a win as a starting pitcher. Maybe we'll see something like this again in another 99 years.
Astros:Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers and Justin Verlander had dominant first starts, Altuve is hitting .563, and there's a World Series banner being unveiled at Minute Maid Park on Monday.
Athletics: Third baseman Matt Chapman's fast finish to 2017 has carried into this season, including an impressive home run against Ohtani on Sunday.

Mariners: Right fielder Mitch Haniger is hitting .625 with a double and two home runs, which has many believing last year's .843 OPS was for real. He has Robinson Cano batting in front of him and Kyle Seager behind him. Yes, Seattle is going to be fun to watch this season.
Rangers: Evidenced by the fact that the Astros unveiled a four-man outfield for Joey Gallo, MLB teams have realized he is a special hitter. Gallo hit his first home run Sunday afternoon. Expect around 40 more.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.