Seven games into a 162-game season and already players and teams are distinguishing themselves.
Major League Baseball’s opening week gave fans a glimmer of what’s ahead, as some players showed they were ready to live up to the hype, while others are already facing harsh criticism from fans wondering whether or not they’re worth whatever money they’re being paid.
Teams are also under scrutiny, with some showing deficiencies that could affect their playoff chances, and others showing the potential to be nice surprises. Some of the winners and losers that caught our eye after just seven days of baseball:
The biggest international free agent in history came into Spring Training with more expectations than any player in recent history. The two-way player was going to win the Cy Young, the MVP, and the Rookie of the Year. Then Spring Training came and his performance on the mound and at the plate was lackluster at best and all the hope turned to hype.
Then the season began and the 23 year old showed why the Los Angeles Angels could challenge the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros for the American League West.
He has two homers, one off Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and a batting average of .455. On the mound he threw six innings in getting his first victory and had several pitches at 97 mph or faster.
The San Francisco Giants could of being saying “Why us?” when ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner was lost for the first two months of the season when he broke a finger near the end of Spring Training.
Little did the team know that his replacement on Opening Day would do his best impersonation of Bumgarner. Ty Blatch outdueled Clayton Kershaw at Dodgers Stadium and led the Giants to a 1-0 victory. His performance definitely took the sting out of losing their star pitcher.
They are 125/1 longshots to win the World Series with just four teams below them in the odds. They lost Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen and it looked like it was going to be a long season.
It still might be but the team began the first week with a 5-1 record and first place in the National League Central. They probably won’t stay there, but the team has provided an early highlight for fans.
The Chicago Cubs paid $126 million for the free agent pitcher and if other outings are like his first they are going to have a bad case of buyer’s remorse.
Darvish faced the lowly Miami Marlins and gave up five runs on five hits and two walks while also hitting two batters in just over four innings. It was not what management or fans were expecting. He has another start on Saturday and if that one goes the same way, it’s going to be a long year for him.
Los Angeles Dodgers
At one time they were the favorite to win the World Series. Now they are third behind the Astros and Yankees, but the first choice of the National League has looked like anything but title contenders.
The team lost its opener against the rival Giants and were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two of their losses have been shut outs and losing Justin Turner to a broken wrist hasn’t helped. The team batting average is .202 and the offense is in desperate need of help.