By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
After a winter filled with heavy snow and dramatic football, it’s the time of year for America’s classic sport to start back up.
The MLB is back and after a couple weeks we have some familiar teams at the top of the standings, as well as some surprises.
Last year’s champions, the Houston Astros, have started their season as hot as they left their last one, while the LA Dodgers haven’t been looking like last year’s World Series team.
Other division leaders are the Pirates, Mets and Diamondbacks, some teams that aren’t too common in the postseason.
Up here in New England, the biggest story is the surprising dynamic between the Red Sox and Yankees. While everyone expected the Yankees to be the big boss that keeps Boston from dominating, it’s actually Boston that’s been dominant and the Yankees that have struggled.
The Yankees definitely aren’t being counted out, but a 5-5 start isn’t what many people expected. The Red Sox have been great at 8-1, standing on top of the league.
Roster-wise, the two teams are quite different. The Yankees already had powerful bats with Didi Gregorius and 6’7” rookie sensation Aaron Judge, but in the offseason they landed a monster trade with NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton begin the season hitting homers, but he’s logged a few goose eggs since.
Meanwhile, outside of a painful choke in their first game, the Red Sox have found strength in their bullpen and defense. Big-name pitchers like Chris Sale and David Price have been exceptional, and other names like Brian Johnson and Hector Valazquez have surpassed expectations. At the time of this article’s writing, David Price has a 0.00 ERA in his two games.
Perhaps the most impressive stat is that Boston’s starting pitchers have allowed one run or fewer in each of the first 4 games for the first time in the history of the Sox.
Elsewhere in the American league, a Japanese pitcher named Shohei Ohtani has been one of the most highly anticipated rookies that baseball’s seen this millennium. Players from foreign leagues always generate buzz, but Ohtani’s a unique case. He’s a hybrid.
He’s not only known for pitching; in Japan he was just as deadly a threat hitting the ball as he was throwing it. The LA Angels picked Ohtani up, and named him both designated hitter and pitcher.
He’s delivered in spades at both positions. The first man he pitched to went down in three strikes, including a 100 mph fastball. His pitching has been strong, but maybe not even as strong as his batting; he’s hit 3 homers in his first 8 games, pretty good by any player’s standards, but fantastic for a pitcher.
Will Ohtani be the Japanese Babe Ruth? Much too early to say, but he’s been entertaining so far.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter has been an outstanding example of what not to do as a team owner. His Florida Marlins are 2-6 after trading their superstar Stanton to the Yankees, and enthusiasm for the team is low, especially after a brutal 20-1 loss against the mediocre Phillies.
Jeter’s focused more on future prospects than current success, and it looks like that was the wrong call.
Bryce Harper continues to be the only redeemable piece of the Nationals as he leads the league with five homers in their eight games.
Will the Red Sox continue their early dominance? Will the Yankees get back on their feet, or was Giancarlo Stanton a waste of money? Tune in to baseball this season to find out!