MLB Week 1 Review

by Greg Landries
on April 11, 2017

It is difficult to look at the first week of baseball and make a precise assessment of each team.  In a weeks’ worth of play you can at least look at a team and tell if they are going to be good, bad, or outright horrible. There are teams loaded with talent this year (see: LA Dodgers) and Seattle Mariners, who made a ton of acquisitions over the off-season to trying fixing their problems. Is the talent working out for them? We will look at some of the teams that will be contending for their division title and beyond during the 2017 MLB season.

American League

East

Baltimore Orioles (4-1)

Baltimore looks to continue their success in the east as they started 4-1 during the first week of the season, all of their wins coming at home. They have a terrific core group of players that includes Adam Jones, who had a strong spring training (.350 average), Mark Trumbo and Chis Davis who are also strong hitters, capable of his 40-plus homers over the season.

Their biggest issue going into the season is starting pitching. They looked to have no ace during last season, but still made it to the Wild Card. This year, Dylan Bundy looked strong in his first start by going 7 innings, .  If they can find starting pitchers then Closer Zach Britton can take care of the rest, as their star go to man only gave up four runs all of last season

The Orioles will likely make a Wild Card push again this year, but it would be surprising to see them win the East with competing against such a strong Boston Red Sox team.

Key Players: Mark Trumbo- and Pitcher- Dylan Bundy

Boston Red Sox (3-3)

The Red Sox made a huge trade to pick up Chris Sale during the off-season, He will join last year’s Cy Young winner Rick Porcello on a strong lineup of starting pitchers for the Sox. At 3-2 after the first week, the Red Sox have already had to battle . Once they get healthy and back on track this team will be a World Series Contender.

One key ingredient to their World Series runs was David Oritz, one of a kind veteran and slugger this team will miss. In an attempt to fill his shoes, the Red Sox will have Rookie of the Year favorite Andrew Beninendi to fill Papi’s shoes. They also have last year AL Rookie of the year Mookie Betts who looks to have a strong second season. If these young stars and a plyer like Pablo Sandavol, a complete bust last year can turn it around. Their starting pitching and batting lineup will be a nightmare for other teams.

Key Players: Andrew Benintendi and Chris Sale

Central

Minnesota Twins  (5-1)

Off to one of the more surprising first week starts. The Twins ended the first week with a 5-1 record, led by . Minnesota has been able to beat the Chicago White Sox and sweep the Kansas City Royals in their series.

Even with a solid start to the season, we all have to remember last season’s Twins team. They lost 103 games last and were one of the worst teams in baseball. Therefore, a small sample size of games for them is not much to go on.  They do have a good mixture of young and veteran talent that could allow them to carry their first week over into the season.

In reality of it all, the twins were awful last year and have not been to the plays in over 6 years. They have the AL Champions Cleveland Indians in their division and they are just too strong of a team for Twins to compete against this season.

Key Players: Ervin Santana and Jorge Polanco

Cleveland Indians (3-3)

The Indians look to redeem themselves after last year’s World Series collapse, leading 3-1 against the Cubs and losing three straight can be a lot to stomach.  The tribe have been able to keep their core group of players from last year’s playoff run together.

They return every pitcher from last season’s strong rotation. In addition to strong pitching the Indians had a strong batting lineup that got even better when they signed Edwin Encarnacion from the Toronto Blue Jays. Encarncaion hit 42 homers last year with the Jays and adds another strong bat to this Indians team

At this point, the Indians bats are struggling, but once they come alive, this team is an easy favorite to win the American League again this year.

Key Players: Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion

West

Houston Astros (4-3)

The Astros are built off draft prospects and their farm league with no big name veterans other than Carlos Beltran. They like to develop their own players and it seems to be working. As Sport Illustrated picked this unconventional team as on their front cover the Astros have looked shaky the first week.

The Astro’s star second baseman Jose Altuve will need to impress again this season and George Springer, a Gold Glove finalist (right field) from last season while setting personal careers best in Homerun and RBI totals will also need to improve on his last season totals. If the Astros want to be anywhere close to being a World Series contender in 2017.

Key Players: Dallas Keuchl and George Springer

Los Angeles Angels (5-2)

The Angels struggled last season finishing 14 games below .500 with a huge payroll and the best play in baseball right now (Mike Trout). They have started the 2017 season much better by going 5-2 they look like a team that might contend in the West once again.

If they want to contend they need Mike Trout, to play like Mike Trout but he cannot do it all. If Albert Pujols can recover from to give Trout another bat in the lineup but the biggest key their season is Garret Richards. Last year the pitcher opted out of getting Tommy John surgery for a stem cell treatment. If this alternative can keep him healthy and his arm strong his success would boost the Angels right into the race for the Western Division.

Key Players: Mike Trout and Garret Richardson

National League

East

Washington Nationals (3-3)

If we could pick a team in the National League to compete with the Chicago Cubs this season, look no further than the Nationals. As they have the talent needed to compete with the Cubs, if they can get it together this season.

Last year, Bryce Harper struggled to repeat his NL MVP season the year before. His batting average dropped dramatically as did his homerun total (42-24) last year, he needs to improve if the Nats want to compete. Even if Harper is in form, their bullpen has struggled the first week with an . A poor bullpen and first time closer (Blake Treinin) will not work in their favor this season, if it is already this bad in the first week.

Key Players: Bryce harper and the entire bullpen

New York Mets (3-3)

The Mets have been able to win the pennant and make it to the NL wildcard the past two seasons. This season they want to go for it all with ace Noah Syndergaard and the return of pitcher Zach Wheeler their starting pitching is good to go.

To open the season their bats have been awful, borderline non-existent in their first week. As of Saturday their team batting average? The Mets were hitting a  as a team and none of their big hitters have woken up and they need to if they want to contend.

The Mets will contend with the Nationals in the East this season, only if their bats can come alive.

Key Players: Zach Wheeler and Lucas Duda

Central

Cincinnati Reds (4-2)

Off to an unexpected start this season the Reds have shown a . In a series against the cardinals, they dominated in every aspect (pitching and hitting). Their for second best in the majors and they really look like a good team.

Unfortunately, for the Reds they are in the same division as the Cubs who we’ll discuss next. If the Reds stay hot then they’ll be giving the Cubs some competition, but they need to play at this level all season in order to do that which is probably not going to happen.

Maybe a Wild Card spot?

Key Players: Joey Votto and Starting Rotation

Chicago Cubs (4-2)

There is not a ton to say about the World Champions.

We saw how talented this team was last year by winning the World Series. This season the Cubs have a perfect mixture of power and pitching once again. So far, both have showed up during the Cubs 4-2 start the first week. Their starting rotation is ridiculous with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, not to mention Kyle Hendricks who led the league in ERA (2.13) last season. That league leading ERA is good to be the fifth starter in a stacked rotation.

Add in Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Kris Bryant to a batting lineup and the Cubs are favorites to win it all again.

Key Players: Kris Bryant and Starting Rotation

West

Colorado Rockies (5-2)

The Rockies have the youngest starting rotation in the MLB with no starter older than 27 years old. This young rotation is extremely talented from the bottom up, they are led by John Gray who has started 2 games with no decisions. He and the rest of this pitching staff could make for a fun season in Colorado.

On the offensive end Left fielder Gerardo Parra (.440) and hits (11) through the first week and first basemen Mark Reynolds has three homeruns. As a team they are in the top 15 for runs, batting average and an impressive 10th in slugging percentage.

For a team without any big names they have a strong pitching rotation, average offense, and a ton of young talent.  Keep your eye out for the Rockies this season!

Key Players: John Gray and Mark Reynolds

Arizona Diamondbacks (6-1) Sleeper Pick of 2017

The diamondbacks played a contender from the East (Indians) and West (Giants) to start their season off and ended up going 6-1. If going 6-1 in the first week was not good enough, Arizona is leading the league in every major batting statistics- ..  These stats did not come against any cream puff rotation both the Giants and Indians each have solid pitching. The Rockies went 5-2, including taking two of three against the Dodgers. Against Dodger Ace Clayton Kershaw they hit three homeruns on Saturday, so this offense is for real.

Their pitching is solid, but nothing spectacular with Patrick Coburn and Zach Greinke leading their rotation it is certainly manageable, especially if their offense continues to be unstoppable.

Key Players: Brandon Drury and Patrick Coburn

Biggest disappointment of Week 1

Seattle Mariners (1-6)

As a Mariners fan it was exciting to see the moves made by GM  Jerry Dipoto during the off season. He attempted to fill every hole he could through a ton of moves that would put the Mariners in place to end the league’s longest playoff drought, instead they are off to 1-6 star with an awful looking offense and sloppy bullpen.

Their offense? If that’s what you want to call it currently ranks after the first week. Their power-hitting duo of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruze has one homerun with Cruz batting a during after the first seven games.

It will be hard for this Mariners team to recover after such an atrocious start to the season. There are still 155 games left, so they have time to recover and find their way at the plate. The American League West is not overly strong this year and if they play to their potential, they could easily contest the Angels and Astros.

Top Five Favorites and sleeper pick to win the World Series according to Bovada:

  • Chicago Cubs- +450
  • Boston Red Sox- +550
  • Cleveland Indians- +550
  • LA Dodgers- +900
  • Washington Nationals- +1100
Sleeper Team- Arizona Diamondbacks @ +7500
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