If success truly does breed more success, the Mets and Pirates could be headed toward a postseason date with one another, and wouldn't that be great fun? There are also good vibes around the Tigers, with the pitching staff off to a nice start and Jose Cabrera building on what
If success truly does breed more success, the Mets and Pirates could be headed toward a postseason date with one another, and wouldn't that be great fun? There are also good vibes around the Tigers, with the pitching staff off to a nice start and Jose Cabrera building on what was already a Hall of Fame resume.
When I see some of the things happening around the Majors, I'm reminded that some of us just aren't very good at preseason predictions. Or as Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein once said: "We don't know anything."
Epstein said it a bit more colorfully than that, but the message was that you work and work and plan and play, and there will always be unknowns.
Hitters and pitchers will tell you there's a certain magic when things are going really well. There's a confidence in executing pitches or in stepping to home plate and consistently barreling up the baseball.
Some guys do not want to talk at times like these for fear of cluttering up the process with unnecessary analysis. Anyway, this column is a celebration of some of the things that are going well so far this season.
Here are 10:
1. Shohei Ohtani
Just because. When history is being made, when we're seeing something we've never seen before, it's best to shut up and enjoy the ride.
2. Mets may be the real deal
Is it too late to resubmit those National League East predictions? OK, we kid. Sort of. We think. Everything is clicking, from new manager Mickey Callaway to an airtight bullpen to a nice mix of youth and experience to a rotation that only needs good health to be superb.
3. Bryce Harper definitely is the real deal
Harper is off and running on what could be one of the most impressive salary drives ever. The thing is, we've always known this was the player he was capable of being if he could just stay healthy. How about we reopen that Michael Trout-vs.-Harper discussion just for fun?
4. So is the top of the Mariners' lineup
How do you overcome a rash of injuries? You put Dee Gordon, Jean Segura and Robinson Cano at the top of your order and watch them create offense. Cano is leading the American League in hitting, with Segura a not-so-close second.
5. "That was Kenley right there"
Those were Clayton Kershaw's words after Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen looked like his old, dominant self in striking out the side on Sunday to finish a 2-1 victory over the Giants to give his 3-6 team a much-needed tonic. As for Jansen's diminished velocity, his cutter was clocked at 94 mph on Sunday. In other words, he's back.
6. Pirates' best start in 25 years
Only the Braves have scored runs more frequently than the Pirates. Meanwhile, the rotation has been the second best in the NL, trailing only the Dodgers in ERA. Six regulars are hitting .300 or better, including outfielder Gregory Polanco, who is about to play his way into the NL MVP Award discussion. Right-hander Jameson Taillon, the NL Player of the Week, has a 0.488 WHIP with two walks and 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.
7. Speaking of the NL East, how about the Braves?
Atlanta has scored more runs than any other team and has the best run differential as well. The Braves have been insane hitting with runners in scoring position, with first baseman Freddie Freeman leading the way. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is off to a great start. Only the Cubs and Mets have had a better bullpen ERA.
8. Yes, the Tigers have surprised plenty of us
And that's a good thing. The Tigers' pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in six of their first nine games, and Michael Fulmer has led a rotation that trails only the Red Sox and Astros in ERA among AL teams. Cabrera is healthier than he has been in a while and hitting like it as well.
9. D-backs' rotation leading the way just like last season
Arizona is one of four teams to get at least five innings from its starting pitcher every game this season. Patrick Corbin (20 strikeouts in 13 innings) and Zack Godley are as good as ever, and once Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray get on track, the D-backs should roll back into the postseason.
10. Maybe Rhys Hoskins really is that good
We waited for the league to catch up when Hoskins homered 18 times in 50 games after getting called up last summer. We're still waiting. He finished the weekend hitting .440 with a .559 OBP, which isn't even a number you can get your mind around. There are many reasons for Phillies fans to be excited about what they're seeing, none more than this 25-year-old slugger.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.