We’re two weeks into the 2018 season, and already there have been some quite surprising developments.
Firstly, the Dodgers are struggling. A team that came within one game of winning its first World Series championship since 1988 was the overwhelming favorite to win the National League West division and a favorite to make it back and win the World Series in 2018.
Through 11 games, the same team franchise that won 104 games in 2017 is 4-7 and are getting beat by teams that they are better than, at least on paper that is.
Now we shouldn’t overreact to what we have seen so far. After all, the team has played only about six percent of its regular season schedule and they did start the season slowly last year, too. But in 2018, the division and the entire league looks to be stronger with the Diamondbacks on fire and the Giants and Rockies expected to contend throughout the season.
By far the most surprising development is just how good the Pittsburgh Pirates look. The Pirates should not be doing this if you were to listen to all of the prognosticators during this past offseason. Yet the team is 9-3 through 12 games and are doing it after losing their best pitcher in Gerrit Cole in a trade to the Astros and their best position player Andrew McCutchen in a trade to my San Francisco Giants.
Their offense has been one of the best in the league and the only thing that looks like it could potentially hold them back is their pitching staff. The Pirates rank 27th out of 30 major league teams in earned run average with a team ERA of just over 5, which is pretty bad.
The offense has been their saving grace. They rank second in all of baseball in runs scored, only behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They league in on-base percentage as well.
To me, the most disappointing team in the whole of MLB has to be the New York Yankees. This is a team that I picked before the season to win the World Series over the Cubs. Now, they aren’t terrible and it is early so nobody should panic. But there are some factors that give me cause to pause.
For instance, they have a roster that isn’t used to playing together. Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP was traded to the Bronx Bombers over the offseason and the hype for what he and phenom sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez could do was off the charts. I admit, I bought in, and I am not going to admit that I was wrong.
Aaron Boone as a rookie manager is really what scares me the most about the team. Already through the first two weeks of the season Boone has arguably cost the Yankees some games with his (misuse of the bullpen, but I also think that as the season moves along he will settle into the role and be just fine. Still, the inexperience factor is there and should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to the postseason.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least talk a little bit about my team, the San Francisco Giants.
I will admit, once Madison Bumgarner went down with a major injury for the second season in a row, first thought was that the season is over. But that is just the irrational animal-brained fan in me. Once my reason and logic returned, I realized that this doesn’t have to be a death knell for the 2018 Giants season. There still is some talent on this roster.
I especially like what they did in the offseason to upgrade the putrid offense from last year. Getting McCutchen and Evan Longoria were moves that I still think will prove to be very impactful despite the players’ slow starts with the bats.
They do play in a very tough division so if they want to stay in the race for the postseason they will at the very least have to be above .500 by the time reinforcements arrive in the form of Bumgarner. But I still love my team