English: Jhoulys Chacín, a major-league baseba...

It’s pronounced “yo lees shah seen”

My Colorado Rockies are off to a blazing hot start this year, with a 13-4 record through 17 games – 2 1/2 games ahead of defending World Champion San Francisco in the NL West.  It’s true that you can’t win a pennant in April, but it’s also true that every game you win in April is one that’s in your pocket come September.

Health is a big reason why the Rockies are playing well this year.  Jhoulys Chacin has the stuff to be an ace, but fought through injuries last year before getting shut down.  Lefty Jorge De la Rosa is just coming back from an injury of his own.  If those two guys are healthy, the rotation becomes much more formidable on the offensive side.  On the offensive side, having Troy Tulowitzki back from injury means that the Rockies have added one of the best all-around players in baseball to the lineup.  Dexter Fowler has seven homers so for this year – more than half as many as he had last year.  Many observers have been waiting for Fowler’s power to develop for a number of years, and this is his age 27 season, which is a breakout season for many players.  Don’t be surprised if Fowler becomes a perennial 25 homer guy – and if he can provide that sort of power with a good on base percentage and quality defense, that’s a damn good player.

Surprises

As we look around the league, which teams surprise me?  Definitely the Angels, who started the season 4-10 before winning their last two games.  With Oakland losing their last two games, the Angels have closed the gap to 5 games – still a horrible spot to be in at this point of the year.  While sophomore Mike Trout is off to a good start (.868 OPS), he only has attempted one steal in 17 games, after stealing 49 in 139 games last year.  Newly acquired Josh Hamilton actually has a negative WAR (wins above replacement) so far this year.

The other LA team (Dodgers) are also proving that your can’t buy success.  Their pitching staff has suffered some injuries and has floundered to a 7-10 start.

Derek Jeter

Jeter has an owie – out until after the All Star break

The Yankees, of course, have a sky-high payroll and find themselves two games behind the Red Sox.  However, I’d actually say that the Yankees start is surprisingly good, considering how many All-Stars they have on the disabled list.  I can’t really see the Yankees playing this well in spite of missing so many cogs in their lineup.  Sorry, but this team is destined for a fall.

Perhaps the Phillies have been a surprise, but some of their key players are getting older.  Tampa Bay lose two key starters, which can definitely hurt a team in the short term.  Toronto added a ton of talent from the Marlins fire sale, but sometimes it takes time for all the new players to jell.

Looking around the league, I don’t see a ton of other big surprises.  The Royals are hanging tight in the AL Central with the Tigers?  James Shields and Wade Davis were a big upgrade to their rotation, and might have the added impact of showing a young team how to win.  The Braves off to a hot start in the NL East?  That’s just a good team.

Random notes

For years, I’ve been trying to impose the nickname Mickey on Mike Morse, now with the Mariners.  By referring to him as Mickey Morse, you can help me in this quest.  M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-R-S-E.

Matt Harvey of the Mets is really, really good.  He won’t sustain a 0.93 ERA, but he’ll most likely keep it under 3.00.

Oakland’s Coco Crisp is among the leaders in Wins Above Replacement.  He’s hitting .317 with 5 homers and 5 steals.  The steals are legit – he had 39 last year.  His career high in homers, though, is 16 – so expect some regression.  About a dozen years ago, I saw Coco play in low A Peoria when he was using his given name of Covelli.  During the same timeframe, I also saw Albert Pujols play during his brief time with Peoria.

 

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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