Analyzing the First Quarter of the 2016 MLB Season

The first quarter of the baseball season is always an intriguing one. You’ll often look at the standings and think “huh? are they really in first place” or as most optimistic fans would say “I told you this was their year”. In which case for Cubs fans it’s always their year oh wait, this year I think it is. But it happens every year, you have teams that historically start out slow (cough Pirates) and you have teams that come flying out of the gate but always seem falter as the year progresses. Because after all baseball is a long and grueling season.

Lets look at some of the teams that aren’t doing so well the first quarter and teams that are doing well and why.

NOTE: These numbers are as of May 15th 2016 where most teams have played 36 or 37 games so we’re not quite at the first quarter mark.

The BAD

Astros

After having the Royals on their heels in the playoffs last year the Astros had really high expectations coming into this year. They’ve gotten off to an extremely slow start and haven’t seemed to climb out of it despite Jose Altuve being the possible MVP of the league thus far. I can’t say I didn’t see this coming however, especially for a team that strikes out at a historic rate. Will the slide continue for the Astros? I think so, obviously not at this rate but I can’t see them climbing out of it and making a run at the division, at best maybe a wild card.

Pitching/Defense

3rd most hits allowed

7th worst defensive efficiency

Offense

18th runs per game

Most strikeouts per game

24th hits per game

Padres

Nobody expected the Padres to win the West especially after letting go of some key players in Upton and Kimbrel.  I actually thought they might be better as the Padres don’t usually live up to expectations and when people bury them they exceed expectations. Looking at the Padres this year though I think they may actually get worse. Melvin (B.J.) Upton won’t keep up the pace he’s at and neither will Fernando Rodney.

Pitching

2nd most walks given up

11 most hits given up

6th worst bullpen ERA

Offense

23rd in runs scored

25th in hits per game

26th in walks per game

4th most strikeouts per game.

Reds

This may sound strange but I actually thought the Reds would be decent this year. They have a nice group of young players in Iglesias and Suarez as well as some good talent in the minors with John Lamb and Jose Paraza. Backed with some veterans like Bruce, Votto and Phillips I thought this team could do better then expected. But with Iglesias on the DL and a horrific bullpen this team is destined for 90-100 losses.

Pitching

#1 in HR’s and walks given up.

Worst bullpen ERA.

Offense

21st in runs scored

28th hits per game

Last in walks per game

Braves

Again this may sound weird but I thought the Braves would actually be okay this year. They have some talented pitching and I thought they could hit enough that they could at least be in a lot of games. But boy, this team just can’t hit anything. Their nearly last in almost every offensive category. I do however think the Braves are trending up as their pitching and defense will continue to keep them in games and if their manager can figure out how to half manage a bullpen (why is Jason Grilli saving games) they’ll be okay. Not winning the NL east good but enough to put up a fight with some of the beasts of the east.

Pitching/Defense

Pitching and defense middle of the pack

3rd worst bullpen ERA

Offense

Last in runs scored

27th hits per game

24th walks per game

Pirates

I feel like the Pirates get off to a slow start every year. Cutch always starts off slow and as he goes the team goes. But if I was a Pirates fan I wouldn’t worry. Despite his slow start Cutch is hitting for power and his peripherals look promising. He’ll no doubt bring up his average and will continue to produce at the level he has in the past. Jung Ho Kang is now back as well and if you look at their offensive numbers they’re top tier despite not having Kang and Cutch not producing at a normal level.

Pitching

3rd most walks

9th most HRs

22nd bullpen ERA

Offense

5th most runs

2nd most hits

2nd most walks

10th best in strikeouts

The GOOD

Orioles

I’ll admit I thought the Orioles would be one of the worst teams in the AL. I continue to believe they actually are despite their torrid start. Do you really think Mark Trumbo and Joey Rickard will keep this pace? I know I don’t. Do they really have this great of a bullpen? Wrong again they certainly don’t. I still see the Orioles as a bad team that just happened to get off to a fast start. Sorry O’s fans I just don’t see this continuing.

Pitching

2nd best HRs allowed

Middle of pack walks and defensive efficiency

Best bullpen ERA

Offense

7th most runs per game

7th most hits per game

Mariners

A little humble brag on these next two teams as I thought both of them could contend in their division. The Mariners had some tough luck last year with Cano not producing and really nobody aside from Seager and Cruz doing anything else offensively. But I thought this was different. I thought Cano would have an MVP like year and somebody else would step up offensively (looking at you Ketel Marte). I actually think this team can hang on and will win the AL West.

Pitching/Defense

6th least hits allowed

5th best defensive efficiency

5th best bullpen ERA and 2nd best bullpen batting average against

Offense

9th most runs scored

Top 15 in hits per game and walks per game

White Sox

Going into the season I thought this team was extremely underrated. Their pitching staff is one of the best in the AL with a top of the line Ace in Chris Sale a future ace in Rodon. Jose Quintana just pitched too well in the last few years to continue to have under 10 win seasons and would get better run support this year. Their offense would also get better with the addition of Todd Frazier and the always underrated Adam Eaton would continue to produce at the top of the lineup.

Pitching/Defense

5th least amount of HR allowed

7th best defensive efficiency

7th best hits allowed

3rd best bullpen ERA

Offense

Top 10 in walks per game and strikeouts per game

Top 15 in runs per game and hits per game

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