Rewind one year ago, when the top of the tigers order was the duo of Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson. Both great players, and even better guys.
The Tigers took a different direction this year and will miss these two great players. The amount however is not as large as one would think coming into the season. Their replacements, at least positionally, are two unproven rookies. Austin Jackson has taken over for Granderson in both the leadoff role and centre field, while Scott Sizemore has taken over for Polonco at second base and fills the number nine hole.
These rookies have big shoes to fill and realisticaly in their first season no one is expecting them to replace theirpredecessors this year. They are just asked to contribute…and that is exactly what they are doing.
Who leads the MLB in runs scored, the AL in ERA, and has a team fielding percentage of .984?
That would be the best team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Rays are near the top in almost every statistical category both offensively and defensively. With the pick-up of Rafael Soriano, the Rays patched their achilles heel over the past couple of seasons – the back-end of the bullpen. The only problem so far is, they haven’t needed him. The Rays have scored 142 runs this year and only allowed 72, so Soriano hasn’t had a ton of important innings yet, only locking down 5 saves.
At the age of 24, lanky southpaw Colbert Richard Hamels was on top of the world. After a great 2008 MLB season with the Philadelphia Phillies, “Hollywood” Hamels led the Phillies to the postseason following their second consecutive National League East title. What Hamels did in the 2008 postseason, though, was on a whole new level.
Through five starts in the 2008 playoffs, Hamels went 4-0 with a 1.80 earned run average, only missing out on what would have been a record five postseason victories because of a rain delay in the deciding game five of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, which finished his outing after 75 pitches (the game would be finished nearly two days later.)
Hamels went on to win the NLCS and World Series MVP award in 2008, as his Phillies went on to defeat the Rays in five games. 2009, however, wouldn’t be so kind to Hamels.
From the start, Hamels wasn’t right. Excuses can be made for Hamels struggles. It could have been the fact that he pitched 262 innings between the regular and postseason alone. It could have been his newly acquired fame, with new endorsements and talk show appearances, which cut down on his offseason work and preparation for the upcoming season. It was probably both.
Throughout the off-season the St. Louis Cardinals created one of the biggest storylines with the re-signing of free agent left fielder Matt Holliday. This signing received, and deservingly so, much attention because of the effect that Holliday’s bat should have on the way pitchers throw to Albert Pujols. However through all of the noise that this offense has created, the red bird pitching is flying under the radar.
Roy Halladay has been every bit as good as advertised for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Although it’s a very small sample size, and he’s not likely to continue at this pace for the remainder of the season, Halladay has been brilliant since opening the season for Philadelphia.
Through his first four starts of the season, the 6-foot 6-inch righty is 4-0 with a miniscule 0.82 earned run average and an insane 0.879 WHIP. He’s also averaging more than eight innings per start, and has walked just three batters through 33 innings pitched, while striking out 28 (which translates to an absurd 9.33 K/BB.) In his first four starts, Halladay has also thrown two complete games, including a complete game shutout over the Atlanta Braves on April 21.
The movie Sugar came out on limited release in April of last year and it took me a year to get it via NetFlix, but all the hype was worth the wait – and I wasn’t disapointed. Sugar is the account of a teenage Dominican, signed at 16 and playing at a Major League Academy in the Dominican, getting the call at age 18 to play in the Low-A Midwest League in the United States with the Swing of the Quad Cities (now the Quad City River Bandits).
Undoubtedly, most baseball fans are aware of ex-Creighton now New York Yankees minor league switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. In case you missed his first prime time moment, take the time to check out the eight minute video above, because it is absolutely hysterical.
What you may not have heard of is that Pat Venditte isn’t alone in his ability that seems to laugh at God. There is actually another pitcher out there with MLB caliber stuff with both arms.
The tigers have opened the year with a 6-3 record, not too shabby. It is a little decieving however.
First of all, they only played the Indians three times and the Royals six, and they only managed a split against the royals. Furthermore, they couldn’t even get to these teams starting pitchers! They had to beat up on their suspect bullpens. Against starters for the season, their record is only 1 and 8!
The games against the pushover teams are over…for now anyways. This next stretch has the tigers facing teams who were winning teams last year. In fact, minus the Rays, the tigers are facing every winning team in the American League over their next 30 games. Only three of those games will be against a losing team from last year.
To top it off, they start the stretch off, on the road, on the west coast. They also do not get afternoon games on get away days.
This 30 game stretch is easily the most difficult stretch of the season. One thing is for sure, by the end of the stretch, the league will know if the tigers are for real or not. I for one am not convinced their 6-3 record is telling that they are for real.
After getting slaughtered and left out to dry Monday night, the Braves tied up the series with the Padres 1-1 last night, after a 6-1 win. By the way… what was up with the Padres uniforms last night? I’m all for supporting our troops and all, but man, those things were ugly.