MLB Opening Weekend Reactions: Byron Buxton faces MVP season, the Dodgers in trouble and more

We have one baseball weekend in the books. Yes, “weekend” in baseball terminology refers to the weekend series, meaning that it includes matches on Thursday and Friday. You already know this, so there’s no reason to even ask and make me explain.

What a fun extended weekend was. There were four lightning wins in the home opener. There were shooting duels. There were conflicts. There were players that we knew were playing as well as great players. There were surprise offers. There were failed munitions. It had it all and it was worth the wait.

With every inaugural series of baseball season comes a lot of other things, too. We know that every team has played three or four games which is a very accurate percentage of the season that we shouldn’t overreact. However, the way the season unfolds, lends itself to overreaction at first. So let’s do that.

Here are some potential exaggerations of the reactions to the first series of the season, along with a quick dose of potential reality.

1. Dodgers in trouble

As it has become somewhat familiar, the Dodgers have entered the season that are generally considered to be the best team. Their season won’t be successful unless they at least make the world championship and maybe they need to win it to avoid the stench of failure. This is the tape they set for themselves.

They’ve been to the Rocky Mountains for three games and these Rockies are not expected to compete. Rocky won two out of three. Naturally, the sky is falling on Chavez Raven.

Well, dodger fans who got worried: Take a deep breath.

The Rocky went 48-33 at Corse last year. It’s always been a tough place to win. Game two of the series was a one-time win for the Rockies with German Marquez as the primary bowler. The Rockies went 14-4 on his debut last season and is still in his prime at age 27.

And I don’t have to remind Dodgers fans that the 2018 team was from May 16-26 to May 16 and ended up in the World Championships.

They are okay.

2. Buxton has finally started his MVP season

Many of us have been dreaming of a full Byron Paxton season for years. If he can stay healthy, he’s such an all-around electric talent that he’ll stand a great chance of winning the MVP award.

On Saturday, he got a traffic light, ran twice on a field that was a letter high and 101 mph. outrageous. Nobody should be able to do that. He followed it up on Sunday with two homeowners, so he has three bombs, three runs and four RBIs through three games. That kind of strength foundation is something that an MVP season can be built on.

Of course, Buxton bothered us with this last season. Through 24 games, he’s hitting .370/.408/.772 with 10 doubles, nine hurdles, 17 RBI, 19 runs and five steals. Then he was injured. repeatedly. He only managed 61 games (in those games he made 4.5 WAR, 23 doubles, 19 homers, 32 RBI, 50 hits, 9 steals, 172 OPS+).

Then again, it’s always possible that this is the year he stays off the list of sufferers. He played 140 games in 2017 and is still only 28 years old.

We’ll set our eyes on this. He probably only needs to play around 130 matches to win the Most Valuable Player award. We’ll always worry that the next injury is about to happen, but he’s good enough that it’s not surprising to believe this is his last year.

3. Duran Padres can carry it without tats

The 2021 Padres seemed to live up to the hype of the legitimate world championship contender by mid-August last year, but they fell apart completely. Knowing that the announcement of Fernando Tates Jr.’s injury in spring training sounds particularly harsh.

By one series, the Padres are 3-1 and should actually be 4-0. The Bulls crash cost them their first game after Yu Darvish spins six uninjured and without goals. This was followed by Sean Mane’s seven rounds without hits of his own. Joe Musgrove in Game Three allowed two rounds to five strikes in six innings, making him the worst member of the rotation during the first weekend. Blake Snell was a scratcher late Sunday due to injury, but starter Nabil Krismat allowed just one hit in his three goalless rounds in his place.

Those four start with only two rounds allowed in 22 rounds (0.82 PM). They only gave up six hits!

Of course, the truth is that the Diamondbacks are a terrible team and they showed it, except for that late comeback in the first game.

I think the rotation of Padres is talented enough to serve as a workhorse for the contender, though. There is a lot of talent out there at the top in Darwish, Manea, Musgrove. We’ll see what happens with Snell, but we know he’s a former Cy Young winner. Mike Clevenger shone an all-star on the upside for three years before he needed Tommy John surgery. He’ll be back on the pile shortly after his aching knee has healed.

We have already named five.

There’s also Nick Martinez, who had 1.62 ERAs in 23 starts in Japan last season. Oh, and it’s possible that Mackenzie Goure is back on the right track. The 23-year-old left-hander hit 16 times against three walks in 12 spring runs and went into five goalless runs with seven hits and didn’t make his first three-game early in the season.

The short answer is cautious optimism. Yes, they’ve faced the Diamondbacks, but I think the Padres has one of the best tournaments in baseball this season. There is high level talent and depth.

4. The Mets’ rotation is amazing even without a degroom

Speaking of cool spins, let’s hit a couple more, including the Mets.

The big news in the spring was that Jacob Degrom slipped again with an injury that could cause him to miss a large part of the season. He hasn’t played after July 7 last season, so it’s definitely a concern.

But the Mets have reinforcements.

The Bulls blew the lead and the attack wasn’t helpful on Sunday, but Carlos Carrasco only calmed down in two runs with five strokes in 5 and 2/3 runs. Taylor Miguel was thrown into an opening day fire and made five point-free rounds, hitting six. Max Scherzer threw mostly well which is, you know, Max Scherzer. On Saturday, another big-ticket acquisition, Chris Bassett, only allowed three times in six innings to go without goals while scoring eight.

This is a dominant weekend from work.

Again, though, context is needed. Citizens are terrible. They have Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Nelson Cruz alongside talented youngster Quebert Ruiz, but that’s all there is to it. Once the bowler passes through points 2-5, he can breathe easy.

They will be tested a bit more in this upcoming series against Phillies.

I generally think the Mets are going to have one of the best tournaments in baseball, but there are concerns here and looking great against the Nats doesn’t eliminate those.

5. Aces are not for the appearance of brewers

Heading into the year, if we were simply to discuss the top three starters in rotation – especially with Degrum injured – the Brewers were the best. They started the season with three consecutive stars on the hill in Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff (who finished fifth) and Freddy Peralta (who was a tough contender before injury limited his late workload).

In contrast to the strong performances from the newbie Padres and Mets noted above, the talented trio of Brewers has given up 13 passes gained on 13 hits with 10 walks in 12 2/3 runs. That’s 9.23 ERA and 1.82 whips. Last season, they combined at 2.59 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.

They were facing a team of Cubs that most of them wouldn’t expect to face either.

I still go with this mostly being a small sample of luck. None of them had very good leadership, at least not in comparison to the elite level they had set for themselves. The defense didn’t help them much either (although with only one mistake, there were several failed plays hit throughout the series). I also think Cubs showed a fresher approach to painting and looked better than advertised.

Basically, there were a lot of little things piling up. I won’t be discouraged by the team’s weak effort from Burns, Woodruff, and Peralta. All three are going to have great seasons.

6. The “fun difference” is back for sailors again

The 2021 Mariners were one of the biggest deviations in MLB history in exaggerating the running difference in a 90-win season. Even with the recent outliers, it was something else. Remember that 2012 Orioles? Everyone knew that the 29-9 record in single-run games is unsustainable. He helped them win 93 games despite a seven-game running difference.

Well, the 2021 Mariners gave up 51 times more than they scored, yielding an expected record-breaking 76-86 win. However they went 90-72. Much of that was 33-19 in single-run games. There was so much talk of running differential that Director Scott Service coined the term “fun differential.”

And you won’t know it. Through three games, the Mariners are 2-1 with a four-game difference.

  • They won the opening day, 2-1, and the final was Gary Sanchez’s knock-out to the wall. Just a few extra feet and the twins were winning.
  • Mariners won the second game after leading in the eighth game, then returned to win the ninth game.
  • They were blown up, 10-4, in Game 3.

Do we really see this again? Will this magic continue?

Doubtful.

There’s a reason it’s such an outstanding story. Basically that never happened, are we really going to see him two years in a row from the same team?

I believe the Mariners are the contenders this season. They are a more diverse team and, frankly, a better team from the start this time around. Odds are we will see Mariners win a few games this season even if they are a better team. They will have less “luck” in sequencing and playing better, starting at the end, as a team on a season basis. I’d score something close to 84 wins with a positive running difference.

7. Beltway bands are awful

Some things are not exaggerated.

The Nationals and Orioles are a 1-6 combined with a negative -22 running differential. Both are pathetic. They’ll have companionship at the bottom, most likely with teams like the Diamondbacks and Pirates, but there’s a chance the two worst baseball teams in 2022 could be baseball’s neighbors.

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