clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Instant Overreactions: A look at extreme outliers in the young baseball season

It's never good to look at a week of baseball stats and think, "That's an important thing!" But that's almost impossible not to do when they're staring you right at the face. How many of these gaudy stat lines can be trusted?

"cool job!" "we are buds"
"cool job!" "we are buds"
Rob Carr

The baseball season is now one week long. I preached patience last week, and I can't stress that enough, but that gets harder to do with every passing day. A pitcher has two bad starts to open the year and now you have to wait four or five whole days to see if he will rectify that. And then what if his third start is bad? You're already in the hole in your league!

Then again, Chris Davis has more RBI than all of the Astros. Literally. So he's the MVP right?

The season is long... *looks suspiciously around room* a little too long... But that doesn't mean we can't start looking around for some extreme outliers after one week and start to wonder? Is this legit, or is it too legit to quit?

Starting with one player from each AL team.

Baltimore Orioles - Chris Davis, .455/.500/.1.136, 4 HR, 17 RBI

Chris Davis is on pace for 459 RBI this season. He might end up falling just shy of that, though I am sure he will probably end up with like 500 RBI. Reminder: The Rangers were once "so over" Chris Davis, that they traded him to the Orioles with Tommy Hunter for a rental of 36-year-old relief pitcher Koji Uehara. Davis hit .326/.395/.704 over his last 37 games last season and continues that run to start this year. He's still got terrible plate discipline, but that's okay when everything you do contact goes to the ER.

He probably won't hit 459 RBI, or even 300 RBI, but he could be on his way to chipping over 100 for the first time in his career. It's a good start.

Boston Red Sox - John Lester, 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 12 inning, 13 K, 2 BB

Remember that time when Lester might become the best southpaw in baseball? And then that other time, not so long ago, when he was only pretty good? Still on the southside of 30, Lester pitched well against the Yankees and Blue Jays on the road. Very early indications that he's cut his FB% down to a career-low and his Cutter% to a career-high.

Chicago White Sox - Alex Rios, .364/.440/.773, 3 HR, 2 SB

Rios hasn't had back-to-back good seasons since 2007-2008. And we aren't talking about "Really good" and then "just okay" because he posted 0 WAR and 2009 and -1.2 WAR in 2011. Must be nice when being vastly overpaid allows you opportunities to turn yourself around.

Cleveland Indians - Mark Reynolds, .300/.364/.950, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 K

As of this writing, Reynolds has 185 career home runs and is 185th all-time in career strikeouts.

Detroit Tigers - Victor Martinez, .143/.240/.143

Martinez is 34 and hasn't played since 2011.

Houston Astros - Justin Maxwell, .381/.435/.619

As a team, the Astros are hitting .199/.234/.286. Without Maxwell, they're hitting .177. Hitters besides Maxwell and Jose Altuve (.333/.385/.375) are hitting a collective .152. This is going to be one of the most interesting seasons for a team ever.

Kansas City Royals - James Shields, 1-1, 3.75, 12 innings, 14 K, 0 BB, 18 H

This is what's it all about, right? Shields gives the Royals a legitimate starter and the K/BB numbers are fantastic oafter two starts, but what about the 18 hits? Back in 2010, Shields faced an uncharacteristic BABIP against of .341 and subsequently led the league in hits allowed while posting an ERA of 5.18. If he's unlucky, he's unlucky, but given the notion that his early .436 BABIP against will probably trail down below .300, it's likely the Shields is going to have a pretty good year all-around.

Los Angeles Angels - Jered Weaver, 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 11 innings, 6 K, 6 BB

Is this the real life? Not good for fantasy. Weaver's caught in a landslide. Fangraph's thinks this might be reality.

Minnesota Twins - The Twins are 4-2

You know how many Twins I could have named before I started this exercise today? It's quite apt that the answer is "a couple."

New York Yankees - Vernon Wells, .294/.429/.706, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB/4 K

Holy crap, are these really the Yankees? I guess I've just sort of glossed over the awfulness of this roster at the moment. Just in case you also weren't paying attention: Francisco Cervelli, Lyle Overbay, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Youkilis, Wells, Brett Gardner, Ichiro, Travis Hafner, Jayson Nix, Brennan Boesch. Obviously things will change by the end of the year, but how low could things possibly go?

Though Wells struggles date back to 2007 when he posted an OPS of .706, he was also an All Star in 2010. It's possible that he really does get a minor boost this year, where somehow there's almost less pressure to play in New York. Nobody is expecting sh*t from Wells right now, and everybody is giving a pass to the Yankees lineup while so many stars are out. Ride the wave.

Oakland A's - Jed Lowrie, .500/.567/.1.000, 3 HR

He was once a real prospect (#73 on the BA, pre-2008) that was sort of cursed by that "we have no place for you anyway" thing in Boston and then shipped off for nothing Mark Melancon when people forgot he was a pretty good prospect and then hit pretty well for a shortstop in Houston last year. He probably won't finish the season hitting .500, probably more in the .450 range(!), but he's always had good plate discipline and pop. I would hold onto him.

Seattle Mariners - Dustin Ackley, .050/.136/.050

I think at this point we almost take for granted just how good of a prospect that Ackley was. I had always pictured him as one of these solid 5 WAR players that was probably a little underappreciated, maybe like how Alex Gordon developed (though with a much different style) over the last two years. Maybe Gordon can provide hope to Ackley fans like myself, because it is so far not going too good.

Dave Cameron provides hope here:

Finally, I’ll note that you still shouldn’t be too worried about Dustin Ackley. His 92.5% contact rate is 8th best in the majors, and pretty much any hitter who can make contact 90% of the time can be reasonably productive as long as they aren’t also chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Even if Ackley never develops any power, his current offensive skillset isn’t so different from a guy like Marco Scutaro, and he’s been a useful, underrated middle infielder for years.

Tampa Bay Rays - David Price, 0-1, 8.18 ERA

Price's first two starts haven't been great. He's a pretty great pitcher. If you don't own Price, I guess you could hope he has a terrible two months and then maybe you'll get him at a lower... cost.

Texas Rangers - Yu Darvish, 2-0, 1.98 ERA, 13.2 innings, 20 K, 4 BB

For yu consideration: Darvish is the best pitcher in baseball? Maybe. There was always the possibility that when he got to the majors, Darvish might actually be one of the very best pitchers in the world. It does not always work out that way with imports, but players like Ichiro have opened the door of possibility. There should not be something naturally inherent about being born in a certain part of the world, geographically, that makes you better at baseball. The only difference is that some parts of the world have baseball, and others do not. So theoretically, Darvish might be the best pitcher in the world.

His second start wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't terrible either. He could become the next Pedro, Randy, whatever. 300 strikeouts isn't seen too often these days, but maybe Darvish can get there.

Toronto Blue Jays - 2-4 record

We went all-in for this?! PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC!!!!!!

Of course, one week of baseball is nothing more than one week of baseball. We have many weeks of baseball every year, it just so happens that the first week allows the stats to stand out on their own. And because small sample sizes are terrible, that's not a good thing.

But it is a fun thing.

Follow Kenneth on Twitter