Friday, May 15, 2015

Division Leaders: AL East - May 13th, 2015

Well, we’re just over a month into the ML season, and as usual there are condemnations and exhortations aplenty; one team is “bound to win it all!” while another “needs to be dismantled completely”.
So it is with baseball fans. And perhaps that’s how it should be.
It can test one’s patience. One month does not a season make. Still, one has to respect the passion. That is, after all, what it means to be a fan.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at who’s on in first, and why:

AL East
New York Yankees – 21-13
League Rankings, Batting – 4th in runs scored, 5th in hits, 3rd in doubles, 2nd in HR, Tied-4th in SB, 2nd in BB
Honestly, at first glance it’s sort of hard to figure out how the Yankees have managed to hold the top spot in the East. Then you look at their offensive rankings, and that sheds a bit of light on the subject. They’ve thus far managed to play a power-speed game that has translated into 162 runs scored in 34 games (4.77 runs/game), with 1B Mark Teixeira (.351 OBP, 11 HR, 27 RBI), LF Brett Gardner (24 runs scored, 16 RBI, 10 SB, .318 BA, .397 OBP), CF Jacoby HYPERLINK "http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/ellsbja01.shtml"Ellsbury (26 runs scored, 11 SB, .346 BA, .418 OBP) and the seemingly-reborn Chris Young (.303 BA, 6 HR, 12 RBI in 76 AB) and, yes, DH Alex Rodriguez (.243 BA, .357 OBP, 8 HR, 20 RBI) leading the way.
League Rankings, Pitching – 1st in ERA, 1st in SV, 4th in fewest HR allowed, 1st in K, 4th in fewest BB allowed
Hello? Michael Pineda? Yeah, he’s good. But he’s not the only one. RHP Nathan HYPERLINK "http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/eovalna01.shtml"Eovaldi (3-1, 4.14 ERA, 41 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 31 K) is far better, stuff-wise, than his numbers would suggest. He's bringing high-90's heat and a sweet breaking ball; expect him to be a perennial All-Star-level pitcher, soon. If Masahiro Tanaka can ever get healthy again, he can take this staff up a couple of notches. Then again, that’s a big ‘if’. Perhaps the biggest surprise concerning LHP CC HYPERLINK "http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/sabatc.01.shtml"Sabathia (1-5, 5.20 ERA, 45 IP, 10 BB, 38 K) is that he’s managed to strike out thirty-eight batters. That’s a dead arm, right there. We shouldn’t forget that RHP Adam Warren (2-1, 4.65 ERA, 31 IP, 16 K) put up some strong numbers in the minors as a starter, even if he’s been throwing out of the ‘pen since he came to the Majors in 2012. He was a 4th round pick in 2009; that’s important to remember, as well. Don’t lose faith.
Speaking of the ‘pen, what has gotten into LHP Andrew Miller? Since 2014, he has struck out 129 batters in 78 innings. Let that sink in, for a moment. Oh, and he’s allowed only 3 homers in that span while producing a sparkling 1.62 ERA. Aroldis Who? Oh yeah…righty DellinHYPERLINK "http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/betande01.shtml" HYPERLINK "http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/betande01.shtml"Betances has yet to allow an earned run in 2015. That’s 20 innings, 8 hits allowed, and 31 strikeouts. Shouldn’t be too surprising, since he posted a ridiculous 1.40 ERA in 90 innings in 2014 (70 appearances, 46 hits allowed). 
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