Spring Training games are underway, the season is less than a month away and the die-hards are already breaking down...well everything.
Truth is, it is WAY TOO EARLY to make any sort of prediction of any team, players, etc. The Yankees have lost Granderson and Teixeira for the next 8-10 weeks, so should they pack in the whole season...NO! The Kansas City Royals are currently 11-0...WHOO-HOOO, here they come 162 wins...NO! The five teams in the American League with losing records this morning were the Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Yankees, and Blue Jays...who here is betting against them in 2013?
It is just way too soon to get excited about a certain players stats, way too soon to be overly concerned with a hitter who will contribute, and way too soon to even begin talking about a seasoned veteran who is still "going through the motions."
Now, with that said, I'm going to take a look at all three areas for each AL West team. A player who is HOT right now, a player who is COLD, and a seasoned veteran who is still hitting the snooze bottom.
Before getting into this, by no means am I predicting anything from any of these players. Just very early trends and points about them that should also be considered.
DON'T GET TOO EXCITED
Derek Holland, TEX - 2 starts, 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 0 BB...This is what Ranger fans have to hope from Derek (0 HRs allowed is awesome), but he is still showing early signs of his "bend, don't break" starts. In seven innings pitched, he's allowed 9 hits (.310 opponent's average). That has to get better, especially by the time he makes that first Ballpark start.
Peter Bourjos, LAA - .278/.381/.500, 4 runs, 2 triples, 3 BB...Catalyst on the base path when he gets on and .381 OBP is a great start, But seven strikeouts in 18 ABs, that trend has to stop for Bourjos to 1) see regular playing time and 2) effectively promote the rest of the Angels' lineup.
Jemile Weeks, OAK - .545/.538/1.000, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 5 RBI...Offensive numbers that could make his base-running threat a real issue. But with only 11 ABs so far, this feels more like a HOT start than a change in his game, Weeks has a ton more atoning to do before anyone believes he can sustain numbers like these.
Raul Ibanez, SEA - .500/.529/1.063, 8 hits, 7 runs, 2 doubles, 2 HRs, 5 RBI...Welcome back to the early 2000s, Mr. Ibanez. Though Mariner fans have to be excited about the quick start, Ibanez's season will be defined by how much he can stay on the field. (Side note: M's made a conscience decision this offseason to improve offense, along with Ibanez, Smoak, Montero, Morales, and even Ackley are all off to HOT starts. Let's hope they are more trends than just hot starts.)
Rick Ankiel, HOU - .467/.529/.867, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 3 runs...With only the 1 RBI and four strikeouts, this feels more like Ankiel pouring it on to make the squad, as he should make it. Hopefully he will be a great clubhouse presence for all the youth that the Astros better be playing, because even he knows these numbers won't hold.
CAUSE FOR SOME CONCERN
Josh Donaldson, OAK - .050/.208/.050, 1 hit, 8 Ks in 20 at-bats...Donaldson has drawn four walks, but he isn't even hitting in Oakland yet. Has to turn around or issue will be addressed immediately. In fact Donaldson and Nakajima currently have struck out 17 times in 37 at-bats.
Blake Beavan, SEA - 2 starts, 8 IP, 10 hits, 5 ER, 3 HRs...Brightside is Beavan has yet to walk a batter, struck out seven and still holds a 1.25 WHIP. But three HRs allowed in eight innings pitched is a very bad trend when you'll see a lot of the Rangers and Angels.
Jordan Lyles, HOU - 0-2 record, 4.1 IP, 13 hits, 8 ER, 16.62 ERA, .565 opponent's AVG, and 3.23 WHIP...OK, everyone has bad starts and it could be that simple, look he only walked one and didn't allow any HRs. But it's impossible to find much good out of a 3.23 WHIP when you are being asked to be one of the very few bright spots against a stacked AL West. (Side Note: Astros power will hopefully come from Carlos Pena, Chris A. Carter, and Justin Maxwell, currently they have a combined 22 strikeouts in 58 at-bats.)
Mike Olt, TEX - .158/.238/.368, 3 hits, 9 Ks...Still early, and two of those three hits went for extra bases, but the strikeout number is slightly alarming and must be corrected in a division that boasts the pitching they have in Seattle and Oakland. Hello AAA Round Rock, how have you been?
Josh Hamilton - 0 BB, and no "productive outs"...I know he is batting .500 through 10 ABs, but Hamilton gets on here because of his non-stop health concerns. Everyone knows how powerful he is, we all now how far his HRs travel, but in "limited" play time, one can already see the same tendencies that have been previous issues. No walks and a low pitches/AB. Fix those things and he's fine. (Side note: Mike Trout put on 20 pounds and he's 21 years old. Didn't we all have that problem at that age...HA!)
HITTING THE SNOOZE BUTTON
Carlos Pena, HOU - .235/.278/.471, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 8 Ks...Let's be honest about Mr. Pena, if he can maintain these numbers just like they are, Astro fans should be satisfied. Don't want to rename it the Pena-Line.
Ian Kinsler, TEX - .158/.250/.263...Two of his three hits were doubles, has drawn three walks, and only struck out once. Right now Kinsler is simply going through a veteran routine. His at-bats are looking better, working counts, so no concern...yet.
Yoenis Cespedes, OAK - .077/.333/.077...Right now the ball just isn't finding holes for him, that's no biggie at all. He has only struck out twice and has drawn five walks, no concern that his numbers won't improve, even once he gets to Oakland....yet.
Kyle Seager, SEA - .286/.333/.500...four hits in five games, three strikeouts in 15 plate appearances. Numbers all-around are fine, this really was a stretch because right now all M's seem to be seeing the ball well, but I do think he can improve on even these numbers.
Albert Pujols, LAA - one game, three at-bats, no hits...WHO CARES...he's stupid rich because he can turn it on during the season, that is all any Angel fan should care about with Albert. Spring Training to him is like practicing with the JV squad.