Dallas Kuechel's ERA Could Be an Omen For the Heavy Favorites in the AL Central
Spring has always been the season of hope, and in no area is this statement more appropriate than in baseball. No matter how bleak the prospects are for your team, at the beginning of every spring you can dream about these underdogs pulling off a miracle and making it to the World Series.
Such sentiment is addressed in a bleacherreport.com writer's column on 4/19/22. Zachary D. Rymer wrote “Every MLB team's most promising sign of hope thus far,” a piece intended for all the optimists following the American pastime.
Instead of seeing the glass as half full, we pessimists see it as fifty percent empty. Therefore, my take is to examine, not the sources of hope, but rather the indications each team might be facing a disappointing season.
National League East:
Kyle Schwarber, who signed a lucrative free agent contract in March, is hitting just .139 and had to be moved from the top of the order to the seventh hole. Zach Wheeler has been shelled in both starts so far, as evidenced by his 9.39 earned run average.
New York Mets
Jacob deGrom has already hit the injured list, thereby delaying that highly-anticipated tandem of Cy Young winners deGrom and Max Scherzer.
Nelson Cruz is finally starting to show his age, a devastating blow for a team that is already lacking much offense.
The reigning World Series champions started 2022 with one of the easiest weeks in both leagues, seven games against rebuilding clubs in Cincinnati and Washington, yet Atlanta went just three and four in the two series.
Don Mattingly's troop had a rough start on the West Coast, losing four of their first five games. Coupled with a hot start by the Mets, Miami has fallen four games back already.
National League Central
Joey Votto is having yet another struggling start, right when the team with the worst record in baseball most needs his offense.
They set major League record by scoring first in each of their first eight games, extraordinary for a team that was not expected to contend this year. The bad sign is, however, that the North Side squad finished 4-4 in those eight games.
St. Louis Cardinals
Two-thirds of the highly-touted but unproven outfield trio, Dylan Carlson-Tyler O'Neill-Harrison Bader, have not lived up to their hype. Carlson is at the top of the order but batting only .158, while Bader in the ninth slot is at .219.
The man who energized the Brew Crew after a deadline trade last August, shortstop Willy Adames, is mustering only a .182 average while former Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich's years-long struggle has continued into 2022.
Future face of the franchise K'Bryan Hayes had to be removed in the first inning on Opening Day due to an injury and, although he has returned with a .333 batting average, Pittsburgh fans have to feel even more pessimistic than when the likely long season began.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers
Their six and 0 against duds like the Reds and Twins, but they have a losing record within their division in spite of the fact that they have yet to play the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres.
San Diego Padres
Star shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. will miss the first few months due to injury, and other young star Jake Cronenworth is batting only .172.
San Francisco Giants
When Wilmer Flores is second on your club in runs batted in, as has been the case for the first two weeks, there is a serious problem with your offense.
They lead the league in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, but most of the offense has come from bound-to-cool-off journeymen like C. J. Cron and Randal Grichuk.
The only player in the worst-hitting lineup with a batting average above .241 is a guy named Beer, making it a rather “Lite” offensive attack.
American league East
New York Yankees
Gerrit Cole has struggled, failing to win any of his first three starts. Joey Gallo, the left-handed power hitter who is being counted on to protect Anthony Rizzo, is batting just .121 and has struck out in half of his at bats.
Toronto Blue Jays
Of the five losses three have been by the bullpen, and ace starter Jose Berrios has allowed thirty baserunners in just eleven innings, a trend that has beset the former All-Star for the past three seasons.
Boston Red Sox
Already saddled with a losing record in a very competitive division, the Bosox just lost manager Alex Cora after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Tampa Bay Rays
Although they use primarily openers, it is still alarming that no starting pitcher has recorded a victory so far while they have managed to lose three decisions.
Being last in the league in homers, runs and batting average, it seems amazing that the O's have so far avoided having the worst record in the league.
American League Central
Miguel Sano, who has been terrible over the last three seasons, did not get a hit in his first nineteen at bats, and their dynamic star Byron Buxton has already been out with an injury.
Chicago White Sox
Fifteen is the unlucky number for the Chisox, as evidenced by the team batting average of .215 and the 15.00 ERA of ace left hander Dallas Kuechel.
Jose Ramirez has twice as many RBI as the next highest hitter, and Steven Kwan leads the world in on-base percentage. The problem is they have still managed to lose as many as they have won, a very bad sign for what will likely end up a punchless lineup.
Kansas City Royals
The lineup has the fewest hits in the league, the second lowest team batting average, and the second lowest on base percentage. All the speed of Whit Merrifield, Michael Taylor and Adelberto Mondesi will not be of much benefit for the Royals if they cannot get on base.
Preseason Rookie of the Year favorite Spencer Torkelson with a .194 batting average is headed back to the minors, and likely replacement at first base Jonathan Schoop is hitting just .117.
Los Angeles Angels
Most Valuable Player Mike Trout is hurt again and Joe Maddon is overmanaging again, as proven after a bases-loaded intentional walk badly backfired.
They opened with a series against the Angels in which they scored just seven runs in three games, yet the Astros managed to win two of them. In spite of those wins, there has to be much worry about the absence of offense for a team that has lost All-Stars Carlos Correa and George Springer in back to back seasons.
The Cincinnati duo, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker, in the middle of the order has struggled. The latter is likely to improve his .158 batting average, but the former has been at his .175 clip for the past three seasons.
Starting pitcher Frankie Montas has been lights out, which is bad news for Oakland. If he keeps up his better than a strikeout per inning pace and his low ERA, he will be wearing a different uniform before too long.
Their starting pitchers have yet to record a win and two their expensive free agent acquisitions, Marcus Semien and Ned Garver, are batting .176 and .174.