These are just random observations I've had so far this year. Some from the big league club, some from the minor leagues. Thus the incredibly creative and clever title. I know, I should probably do it for a living.
Obviously, this all is based off of VERY small sample sizes, so much of it could be wildly wrong in the long run. Or, I could just be wrong because I'm an idiot; that's entirely possible, as well.
- Mike Jacobs has been better than I expected. Maybe it was just because I expected him to completely suck, and he has been as terrible as advertised on defense. But on offense, he is better than I expected. He's working counts, taking walks, shortening up with 2 strikes and simply trying to make contact. He is still swinging for the long ball quite frequently, but he's willing to watch balls and to take the single if it's given to him. And he can hit the ever-living crap out of a ball, as yesterday evidenced. The best part is: the stats say that a lot of this improvement could be "real". Sure, he won't OPS 1.019 all year, but his BABIP is only .313, so it isn't like he's getting a ridiculous amount of luck. Most importantly, his walk rate is up to 11% from 7% last year. If Trey will be more willing to stick him at DH, and play Butler at 1B, Jacobs should be able to be an overall positive player for us. Certainly not what I expected.
- John Buck should be the starter, not Miguel Olivo. Olivo is currently striking out on 62% of his PA's. That is ridiculous. It is easily the highest number in the majors. Buck has been hitting the cover off the ball, and while I doubt that keeps up, the Buck vs. Olivo debate has been well-documented. They pretty much even themselves out, except for Olivo has decided to swing at everything so far this year. Ideally, we could trade Olivo and just keep Brayan as the backup, but whatever. As long as Buck receives the lion's share of PA's, it should all be good.
- Kyle Davies is incredible. If this start (plus last September) is "for real", whatever that means, then we really just might have a chance to win the Central. And, if this is what he really is, a large portion of the RR faithful owe Dayton an apology (me included). Nearly everyone was disappointed with the Dotel-Davies swap at the time, because we thought we could have had Balentein, or Fransisco, or Gutierrez, or blah blah blah. But if this keeps up, Davies was the best option, and it wasn't particularly close (I didn't research numbers to back that up, so watch me be way wrong...)
- Finally, Trey Hillman. I think I'm in the minority here, but I really think he's done a pretty good job so far this year. Opening Day wasn't good, but he's learned since then. After yesterday, where Farnsworth really was the "right call", I think he will slide even further down the pecking order. And yesterday's lineup doesn't really bother me in the slightest. He wanted defense in the lineup for a weaker pitcher. He got it. When we fell behind, he didn't hestitate for a second to replace Bloomy and TPJ with better offensive players in Callaspo and Aviles. I'm a fan.
And, for some Minor League thoughts...
- Don't freak out over Daniel Cortes' early start. Yes, his ERA is off the charts (8.10). But that has as much to do with luck as anything. His BABIP is a ridiculous .562, so that will assuredly go down. His LOB% is also awfully low, only at 44% (compared to a career average around 70%). More importantly, he is striking out more hitters than ever (14.85 per 9 innings) and walking fewer than last year's stint in AA (4.05 per 9 this year, compared to 4.24 last). Don't let the ERA number fool you: he is pitching better so far this year than last.
- Danny Duffy is incredible. He's only 20 and already in A+ ball, and is still absolutely dominating everybody in his sight. He's striking out more than 11 hitters every 9 innings, and walking fewer than 2 per 9. That is off-the-charts. His BABIP is low (.247) and LOB% high (85%), so his ERA will eventually rise from 0.93. But even then, his FIP is 1.65, so his luck isn't ballooning him up too high. He is for real, and should start popping up prospect lists and things if he keeps this up. He may be the real "best pitcher" in our minor league system.
That's all. Nothing ground-breaking, I know. Just my thoughts on the early-going. Overall, I'm pretty happy with our start. We easily could be 7-2 right now, but 5-4 and tied for first in the division isn't bad, either.