The 2016 MLB season is less than a month into action, but there is no shortage of storylines in the early going. The offseason stove was hot, as many a team made the moves necessary to compete for a World Series title. Some players caught fire early while others couldn’t buy a hit. But with baseball a 162-game marathon rather than a sprint, there is still time for everyone to get up to speed.
Here’s your MLB primer 3 weeks into the season.
Top 3 Offseason Moves
The offseason is where champions are made. The teams that spend the most money aren’t necessarily the ones best fit for a championship, but the teams that best address their needs in December should be set up for success the following season.
Here are the Top 3 Offseason Moves from the 2016 MLB offseason, as well as how they are performing so far this season.
David Price, Boston Red Sox
Price was the offseason’s most expensive free agent, costing the Red Sox $217 million over 7 years. However, he should be worth it for the BoSox. In desperate need of an ace, Price fits the bill. He will be the horse of Boston for a long time.
But through 4 starts, Price has struggled for the Red Sox. He has a 2-0 record, but his 7.06 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 3 home runs allowed are an ugly beginning in Boston. Still, there’s no reason to believe that Price will continue with this downward spiral, as he is one of the top 10 pitchers in the game when he is on.
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks
Greinke had perhaps the most dominant season by any one pitcher in 2015. And when combined with his pedigree as a former Cy Young Award winner and a 3-time All Star, Greinke got paid by the Arizona Diamondbacks (6 years, $206.5 million). He should be a key piece in the desert for years to come.
Much like Price though, Greinke hasn’t gotten off on the right foot in his new home. Greinke is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, and has given up 3 long balls. However, aside from a disastrous first start with the D-Backs (4.0 innings, 7 earned runs), Greinke has been back to his old self.
Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs
Long regarded as one of the games’ preeminent defensive outfielders, Heyward’s offense took off in 2015. He posted some of his best offensive numbers and was a leader on the rival St. Louis Cardinals, which helped him garner an 8-year, $184 million contract from the Chicago Cubs.
Continuing the trend however, Heyward is off to a slow start at the plate. He is just batting .203, good for a .570 OPS. He has yet to hit a home run and is slugging just .250. But even in this rough patch, Heyward is getting on base. One would think that Heyward will snap out of his offensive funk sooner rather than later.
Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
After waiting for first pitch for over 4 months, fans tend to get overexcited within the season’s first month. However, it is important to realize that a hot streak or a cold streak this early in the season is far from indicative of future results.
But one can’t help but notice when a player starts tearing the cover off of the ball or can’t hit a lick. Here are some of the most notable streaks so far in the 2016 season.
Hot: Starlin Castro, New York Yankees
Acquired in an offseason trade, Castro couldn’t have started off better in the Bronx. He hit .346 with 2 home runs in his first 7 games and looks like part of the future for the Yankees. While his numbers have cooled off since then, there’s no questioning that Castro is the right man at second base for the Yankees.
Hot: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Story’s story seems unbelievable, beginning his MLB career with 7 home runs in his first 8 games. Story has set the MLB on fire before even accruing a month of big league service time. He still has a crazy 1.052 OPS, and is hitting just as good on the road as he is at Coors Field. It will be interesting to see if Story’s story is just a prolouge or if his MLB storybook is already nearing its completion.
Not: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
A-Rod came back from suspension last season in the best way possible: 33 home runs and remaining healthy. But his start to 2016 has been abysmal: a .143 average, only 2 dingers, and 16 strikeouts. Still, Rodriguez should have no issue bouncing back. One thing to keep in mind about Rodriguez is that, as a designated hitter, he has no value if he isn’t swinging the bat. The Yankees need A-Rod to come back in a big way in May.
Not: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Few hitters in baseball have been worse than Martin in 2016 so far, but his luck is sure to change. He only has 7 hits in 16 games, but he is a 4-time All Star playing in a hitters’ ballpark. One bright spot has been Martin’s always-fantastic defense. Martin has caught 29% of runners going and has blocked pitches exceptionally well.
It may seem a bit premature to be talking about playoffs, but it is never to early to make predictions. This MLB season has about 15 teams with serious playoff potential, but only the top 10 can make it. Here’s my early-season playoff predictions.
|American League||National League|
|AL East Champs: Toronto Blue Jays||NL East Champs: New York Mets|
|AL Central Champs: Kansas City Royals||NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs|
|AL West Champs: Houston Astros||NL West Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Wild Cards: Texas Rangers, New York Yankees||Wild Cards: St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants|
AL Champs: Houston Astros
NL Champs: Chicago Cubs
World Series Champs: Chicago Cubs