News, Analysis & UpdatesMay 15, 2005


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Nate’s News and Notes

By Nate Rhodes

It’s only the middle of May, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good stories to go with the young season. For proof, look no further than the divisional standings to date. Six divisions? You get six surprises.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

WestWLGB
Anaheim2016-
Texas20170.5
Oakland14226
Seattle14226

CentralWLGB
Chicago2710-
Minnesota20156
Detroit17189
Cleveland161910
Kansas City102717

EastWLGB
Baltimore2313-
Boston22141
Toronto19184.5
New York18195.5
Tampa Bay142410

NATIONAL LEAGUE

WestWLGB
Los Angeles2115-
Arizona2216-
San Diego21160.5
San Francisco18183
Colorado102410

CentralWLGB
St. Louis2313-
Milwaukee18174.5
Chicago16196.5
Pittsburgh16196.5
Cincinnati14229
Houston132310

EastWLGB
Atlanta2214-
Florida19141.5
Washington19173
New York19183.5
Philadelphia16227

Leading off in the list of surprises, the New York Yankees, who are still below .500 despite a recent surge. There have been many, many discussions of the situation in the Bronx, so I’ll keep this one brief. Anyone with even marginal baseball knowledge knows that you need two things to have a chance to succeed. One is hitting, which the Yankees have, and the second is pitching, which the Yankees do not have. That’s pretty much where the discussion begins and ends in this writer’s mind.

Batting second are the Chicago White Sox. Ranking first in the AL in BAA (.229) and ERA (3.13) and second in WHIP (1.19), pitching is clearly the reason for the White Sox’ early season success. How much longer some of these guys can keep this up is anyone’s guess, but even if such surprises as Orlando Hernandez, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras do falter down the stretch, the White Sox could be sitting pretty come September playing in the bandbox know as US Cellular Field.

Hitting in the three hole, the Washington Nationals. The nomads of MLB seem to have finally found a place they can call home … and they like it. Sitting two games above .500, they are only three games behind the Braves, and while they probably don’t have much of a chance to squeak into the playoffs, not many people were forecasting a start like this one, at least not this author. While a slip back to mediocrity is inevitable, some of the questionable moves made this off-season by the front office in DC appear to be looking somewhat respectable. Only time will tell for sure, however.

Batting cleanup for this edition of News and Notes are the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew had a scare early this season when the ace they depended on so much in ’04 went down. But in Ben Sheets’ absence, they have somehow managed to stay near .500, and in second place in the very weak NL Central. Much like the Nationals, this upward trend for the Brewers is unlikely to continue, but with the NL lacking any true front-runners apart from the birds on bats in St. Louis, anything is possible.

In the number five spot, the Houston Astros. While many foresaw the offensive struggles of the ‘Stros coming into the year, there were probably very few who anticipated a showing as pathetic the display put on by Houston so far. Ranking in the bottom half of the NL in virtually every significant offensive category, the only salvation for the young season has been the performance of one of the aging (but apparently ageless) legends of the game … a first-ballot Hall of Famer by the name of Clemens.

Rounding out the division wrap-up for this edition are the desert-dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks. While many were bemoaning the signings of players such as Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz, the D-Backs have pleasantly surprised us with a mix of solid pitching and adequate hitting. Sitting pretty much in the middle of the pack in most offensive and pitching categories, Arizona has managed to compile a very respectable record of 22 up and 16 down. Like most of the other pleasant surprises thus far, only time will tell if this nice start will have any staying power, but for a fan base seemingly staring down another 100-plus losses coming into ’05, this start will be deeply savored.

 
Three outs? Time for three interesting snippets.

Why did they make the trade again?
Compare the following lines:
30/12/3/.299/.367/.585
30/11/4/.294/.316/.577
Those are the runs, home runs, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging of one Alex Rodriguez (top) and one Alfonso Soriano (bottom).

Big Three? What Big Three?
Compare the following earned run averages: 4.49 and 4.13. Which would you choose if you knew the former cost $6.6 million and the latter almost three times that at $18.8 million? Those are the combined ERAs of Joe Blanton, Rich Harden and Barry Zito through Saturday. The latter is the mark put up by Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, also through Saturday.

Not even a loss…
Johan Santana may have taken his first loss since before the 2004 All-Star break on May 1,
but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down. Minnesota’s ace followed up that loss by allowing just one run in a complete-game win over Tampa Bay, and his season line is now:
56 IP/45 H/67 K/6 BB/3.21 ERA
Not too shabby.

That does it for this edition of News and Notes. If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ve at least been amused.

 
Nate Rhodes is an electrical engineering student at the University of Kentucky. When he’s not procrastinating or cramming, odds are you can find him somewhere at the Cafe posting as SaintsOfTheDiamond.

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