World Series champion Atlanta Braves went 12-14 last April. The Kansas City Royals’ 88-game losing streak went 15-9. In fact, one of the few players to hold off the Royals this time last year was Jorge Soler, who went 16 for 78 with 29 strikeouts in April, eventually ending up hitting huge home runs for …the world champion Atlanta Braves!
You see where we are coming from. The start of the MLB season is a spellbinding mirage. We get fooled every year because we are nothing but emotional creatures who get carried away by the moment. And nowhere is that truer than on Twitter, where our insta analysis isn’t, uh, exactly ironclad.
So every year, at the very start of the season, we like to scour this social media site for some early reactions to see if they’re valid or tasteless. These are just some of the reactions from opening weekend… and overreactions.
No. 1: “Watch the Dodgers shoot a Lakers.” — @epicgiraffe170
If Los Angeles fans have been traumatized enough by the Lakers to believe such things, it’s understandable. But we’re not here to judge a team based on three games at Coors Field (although it was pretty hilarious that this loaded roster only produced one home run at Coors, and that was by Austin Barnes).
However, we will keep a particularly close eye on the speed of Julio Uríasgiven that he played an even bigger role in this rotation.
Verdict: Overreacting so far. It says here that Freddie Freeman will be a better fit for the Dodgers than Russell Westbrook for the Lakers.
#2: “FREDDIE WHO??!! MATT OLSON!!!!” – @SteveP103
Ah, yes, how quickly Braves fans who bemoaned Freeman’s departure have tossed those good memories in the trash now that Olson is 8 for 14 with a dinger, two doubles and three walks. I can’t really blame them.
Put yourself in Olson’s shoes. He was traded just three weeks before opening day and placed in the double pressure cooker both to play for his hometown team and to replace one of the game’s most beloved players. On his first weekend on the job, his new team unveiled a banner honoring the World Series he didn’t win and handed (almost) everyone an extremely garish ring he can’t wear. (and honestly, no one should wear it for long, because it can’t be good for finger ligaments). Yet all he did was show up and rake. And given Olson’s pedigree as a bona fide puncher who made the adjustment to lower his K-rate and transition from the cavernous Oakland Coliseum to a more palatable power rig in the drums, get used to -you.
Verdict: Acceptable, defensible reaction, but let’s not forget Freddie.
No.3: “The Blue Jays are a social experiment to see how far poor rotation and incredible offense can take a team.” — @DuffleBag31
In fact, that experiment was conducted in Arlington, Texas in 1998-99 when the Rangers (the team the 2022 Blue Jays just had a wild weekend against) made the back-to-back playoffs with a 5.48 combined rotation MPM. (and have been swept by the Yankees in the Division Series each time).
The Blue Jays likely won’t maintain their current tempo and hit a record 378 homers this season, nor will they maintain their current tempo or allow a record 324 homers this year. We ranked the Blue Jays not only in our top 10 rosters, but also in rotations and relievers (despite last year’s stark problems in the relief area) before the season, so you won’t see us leaving them. rapidly. It was shocking to see José Berríos throw just 18 of his 34 pitches for strikes on Opening Day (with just one swinging strike), but hey (and here’s a nifty analysis that applies to EVERYTHING you read and watch right now), it was a short spring training and things are going to be a little weird this month.
If anything, those of us with no real sentimental attachment to the Blue Jays should celebrate what we saw this weekend. Because if they’re going to consistently win three-game series while scoring 20 points and giving up 23, it’s going to be one of the most entertaining teams we’ve ever seen.
Verdict: overreacting, but we’re all for experimentation.
No. 4: “Hope you’re ready for Bobby Witt Jr. Because he’s the next big thing in baseball.” — @LanceTHESPOKEN
Firstly, how great is it that the Royals once had a Whit (like at Merrifield) and now have a Witt? And Whit and Witt can really hit.
Younger Witt’s first hit was an RBI double that gave the Royals the go-ahead in what turned out to be a 3-1 win over the Guardians on Thursday. With this, he became the only player in the modern era to have his first career hit be an extra-base hit in the eighth inning or later on Opening Day.
Witt is the highest-ranked prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline in a crop of absurdly talented prospects currently or soon flooding the big leagues — and, in particular, the American League. He has the lineage (his dad was a Major League pitcher for 16 years), the bat (he had a .290/.361/.575 slash and 33 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last year ) and liveliness (he also stole 29 sacks) to impact this league for a long time. He’s a hell of a defender, too, as evidenced by the jaw-dropping play he put up in Round 10 of Saturday’s win.
So, no, the Kansas Citians shouldn’t be shy about celebrating their new third baseman.
Verdict: This team can match Witts with anyone. Not an overreaction.
No. 5: “Noah Syndergaard is an ace.” — @f_tsyou
Syndergaard’s successful first start for the Angels — in a pitching duel with fellow returning Tommy John Justin Verlander — was a highlight of the weekend. Thor was a risky and interesting offseason target for an Angels team with a longstanding need for rotation and, yes, a need for someone other than their DH to throw like an ace. The Angels signed Syndergaard to a one-year, $21 million guarantee despite his two innings for the Mets at the end of 2021 serving as his only big league appearances in the past two seasons, so his 5 1/ 3 scoreless innings in his Halos debut was very encouraging.
A careful observer will note, however, that 15 of Syndergaard’s 16 strikeouts (including a double play in the third inning) were recorded on live balls. He scored only one strikeout, and his average over four seams of 94.7mph was three ticks below his 2019 norm. We’ll have to see a much bigger sample of Syndergaard’s breaking ball and change before we can safely say he’s back among the top flight launchers.
Verdict: Overreaction, but you really can’t blame Angels fans if they’re excited about Thor.
No. 6: “The Red Sox absolutely own Gerrit Cole.” — @JamesBaerga
Cole was irritated that his opening day start was delayed by four minutes due to pre-game festivities, which included Billy Crystal’s ceremonial first pitch. You’d think Cole was just forced to watch “City Slickers II.”
Complaining about being four minutes behind wasn’t a good idea, but should Yankees fans be concerned that Cole now has a 5.79 ERA in his last six starts against the Red Sox? , including last year’s Wild Card Game? In a word… maybe? Fair or not, performance in such a stiff rivalry often cements how players remember them in the Bronx, and Cole has been disappointing against this particular opponent so far. The good news is that Cole will have a lot more opportunities from July through September (interestingly, the Yankees and Red Sox won’t face each other until then), and most of those games should start on time.
Verdict: A timely reaction.
No: 7: “Too early to call Seiya Suzuki the greatest Cub ever?” — @adamcarrico
Cubs All-Time War Leaders:
Yada yada yada… Seiya Suzuki, 0.1.
OK, so he’s not top of the list yet, but Suzuki is on the board after a big opening weekend at Wrigley. The Cubs took two of three from defending NL champion Central Brewers in part because Suzuki went 3 for 8 with a home run and four walks. He swung just 21% of the pitches he saw and only had an 8% smell rate. And he did it against the best pitchers on one of baseball’s best teams, as Milwaukee started Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta in the opening series.
Scouts have been praising the 27-year-old Suzuki since his time at Nippon Professional Baseball, but we’ve seen those skills don’t always translate as well as we’d like against MLB pitchers. And Cubs fans should remember all too well how Kosuke Fukudome arrived from Japan in 2008, had a huge April, and quickly fell apart. But Suzuki’s power and controlled approach were his strengths overseas, and it was nice to see him display those strengths immediately.
Verdict: Obvious overreaction. Suzuki is not the greatest Cub of all time. But he could be their first Rookie of the Year since Kris Bryant.
N°8: “Will the statue of Steven Kwan be completed by the [Guardians] home opening? — @graceqkauffman
Well, we can say this after three games: Kwan is (so far) the best player to ever wear the Guardians uniform. He went 8 for 10 with two doubles and three walks during opening weekend. And while amusing exaggerations like the one above proliferated on Twitter, it was interesting to see how the Guardians themselves reacted to Kwan. First, they signed him up after a strong spring in which he came camping with seemingly little chance of getting a job. Then, just one game into the season, they traded former first-round pick Bradley Zimmer to ensure Kwan would keep his roster spot when Josh Naylor returned from the injured list. Then, starting in Game 2 of the season, they placed Kwan second in the batting order.
So while a statue isn’t in the works, Kwan’s first line of stats is a work of art. Ranked 15th in the Guardians system by MLB Pipeline, he wasn’t among the most anticipated calls for 2022, but he’s the product of a recent focus on contact skills by an organization that has struggled to develop big league hitters. Kwan is definitely one to watch.
Verdict: A statue is an overreaction, but a plaque may be needed.