Welcome Back Baseball
Anybody who thinks I wasn’t running out of things to write about is just being polite because the offseason was about to reach the point where I was simply going to start writing about what I ate for lunch the day before. The bad news about this is I don’t eat interesting things, so it wouldn’t have even been a good food blog. But now, see, I don’t have to resort to writing about conceptual things. I can talk about what happened and what I think will happen. It’s so nice! The first series for the Royals has given me a few talking points, but I’m going to try to stay somewhat focused here and talk about slow starts.
On Friday night, everybody had a slow start with the exception of maybe Jeff Francoeur who doubled. He also got picked off immediately, but we’ve already been through that. The two guys who I want to talk about specifically are Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas because not only are both of them struggling after the first weekend of baseball, but they are looking pretty darn bad in doing it. Admittedly, Moustakas has looked better in his struggles than Gordon, but both are giving a little reason for concern. My thought process on struggling players is that three games is most certainly not any reason for concern unless something out of the ordinary is going on.
Let’s start with Gordon who was 0-5 yesterday and is now 0-13 this year. This is the first clue that we’re no longer in 2011 as Gordon had just one stretch of three games where he went hitless. The concerning thing about Alex is more about his getting a little jumpy yesterday than about the actual results. In five at bats, Gordon saw just ten pitches yesterday. He did draw a walk on Saturday and hit a ball very hard yesterday that Pujols made a great play on. I’d be writing roughly the same things if that ball had gotten by Pujols and Gordon had a double on his ledger instead of an 0-fer. I can understand why many fans are concerned with the way the season has started for Gordon because of the type of player he was in 2009 and 2010. If this continues into late April and early May, I think there will be some real reason for concern, but I have a feeling Gordon really turns it around in Oakland. Yost has said Gordon may sit tonight, and I think that’s not a bad idea.
Moustakas has struggled differently than Gordon and these two are a case of why you have to look deeper into the numbers. While Moustakas has looked overmatched at times in starting 1-11 with four strikeouts, he’s also hit the ball hard foul a couple times. There was one shot he hit on Saturday that actually left the entire ballpark over the first base seats. He then hit laser home run that got him off the schneid and has made his overall line look better than it already is. The concern for Moustakas is that, while his numbers ended up almost respectable last year, he was terrible for most of his time in the big leagues leading up to September. I’m more concerned about Moose’s slow start than Gordon because he has never had the success of Alex. I’m still not concerned with Moustakas, but I think I might jump the gun of concern on him if he hasn’t at least had a couple good days between now and the end of the homestand in a couple weeks. Track record gets you a longer leash both with management and with the fans.
The important thing is not to take too terribly much from a first weekend of the season. I know I’m telling you things you already know, but humor me for a few minutes. The reason people do get excited about early season statistics is that they are just so glaring. For example, it’s easy to look at the scoreboard and see Gordon is hitting .000, but if he had this stretch in mid-June after he was hitting .313/.391/.515, it may drop his average a few points, but it won’t be anything too noticeable by the casual fan. It doesn’t mean these things aren’t important and aren’t happening, but they’re just more glaring. Hosmer’s line looks that much better than it would sometime in July.
Still, it’s great to have baseball back. I know that a lot of people in my life are probably not quite as excited as me because my game ritual is one that takes me away for the entirety of the game. Friends asking me if I want to do something now have to deal with my insistence to check the Royals schedule and see if I either have tickets for a game that night or if I may want to get tickets for that night. The Royals are now the reason why I sometimes will head into work in the morning exhausted because I just have to stay up to finish those west coast games.
Check back here at Pine Tar Press for a series preview of the Oakland A’s. I get into the details more, but I think the Royals really do have a chance to sweep that series. I think the A’s will end up winning one and maybe even two of the games, but the Royals are clearly better than the A’s, especially if they can find a way to get the same kind of starting pitching they saw in the Angels series. I’m not yet a Mendoza believer, though I am much closer to becoming one than I was before the start of the spring. I think the A’s are a good matchup for him, but I guess we’ll find out tonight.
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