Oh, the joys of early-season baseballing. An average player morphs into a baseball deity before your very eyes. Your team’s top prospect is washing out and there is nothing you can do but dream of what might have been. A rebuilding team can be on their way to the World Series. Your team’s season is over and it only just began. It’s time to give out some awards after almost just two weeks of baseball, y’all.
Jeff Francoeur Award: Cincinnati Reds
This award goes to the team that, like last year’s Phillies, may have gotten off to an insanely hot start, but you probably shouldn’t head to the sportsbook just yet. The Reds are currently at 7-3, are with the cream of the crop in MLB and have the lead in their division. Zack Cozart is leading the league in AVG and hitting .481/.516/.704 despite posting a .246/.289/.385 slashline from 2011 to 2016. He’s not alone, as the same goes for Eugenio Suarez (2017: .375/.474/.656, career: .260/.321/.413) and Adam Duvall (2017: .316/.381/.605, career: .238/.296/.487). The small-sample-size pixies are blowing BABIP dust by the handful and it’s probably best to just sit back and enjoy it while we can, as their team probably isn’t going to have a better record than the Cubs for long. But at least they are using their relievers correctly.
What, Me Worry? Award: Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are at 1-8 right now, good enough for the worst record in baseball. Only Josh Donaldson is really contributing and one man does not a professional baseball team make. Per Fangraphs, they have gone from a 52% chance to make the postseason on Opening Day to a 24% chance. While it’s way, way, way too early to consider them out of it, they’re going to make things really tough for themselves in a really tough division. There’s the added issue that, as a extremely win-now team, they are certainly going to face some really, really tough decisions in the near future if they don’t start winning a bunch of games and winning ‘em soon.
What, Me Worry? Award Runner Up: Seattle Mariners
All that was just said about needing to turn things around quickly for the Jays also holds true for Seattle, who currently have 2-8 record. They’ve moved (again, per Fangraphs) from a 29% chance of a postseason berth to only a 12%. They come in second though, because they didn’t fall quite as far. While the Blue Jays might have to make some tough trades if they don’t get better in a hurry, GM Jerry Dipoto probably made three trades while I was typing this paragraph. If the Mariners don’t get better quickly, it’s going to be interesting to see what Trader Jerry gets up to come the trade deadline.
Division of Death Award: NL West
While both the Jays and Mariners’ divisions were expected to be tough this year, there are some early signs that they might have a challenger for the most crazy division in baseball this season. While pretty much everyone under the sun had the Dodgers winning the division and the Giants keeping things interesting, the Rockies and Diamondbacks were also both teams that could potentially rock the boat and they’re both off to strong starts, with Rockies pitchers’ carrying them to a 7-4 record while they wait for their offense to find itself and the Diamondbacks taking the opposite route to a 7-3 record.
Despite Manuel Margot’s ridiculous 1.022 OPS to start the season, the Padres will almost certainly be relinquishing their claim to third place in the division soon. It’s probably a little early to conclude that the Giants’ bullpen is going to be one of the worst in baseball two seasons in a row. The Dodgers are definitely going to improve. But the Rockies and Diamondbacks’ hot starts aren’t entirely flukey and this could end up being the most exciting division in baseball this year, even if we didn’t see it coming.
Or, you know, not, because pretending like you know anything at this point in the season is a good way to make yourself look stupid in a hurry.