How can a 5-3 road trip sound like a disaster while a 3-4 homestand feels like an accomplishment? Easy enough.
When you are the Yankees, trying to escape from the dungeon of the American League Eastern Division basement, and you win the first three of a four-game series against the Indians and then follow up with a 2-2 split against the Orioles, a 5-3 record sends you home with an empty feeling of failure.
Conversely if you are the Orioles, trying to stay out of the AL East cellar, and you lose the first two games against the hottest team in baseball, the Oakland A’s, with four on the horizon against the aforementioned Yankees, a 3-4 record sounds like a rare accomplishment.
Such is life in Major League Baseball in the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic.
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It’s no secret this version of the Yankees will not draw any comparisons to the 1927 gang of sluggers, but a look at the lineup that faced the Orioles at Camden Yards April 29 was startling, to put it mildly.
Here are the pre-game batting averages of the nine hitters facing Jorge Lopez that day: .270, .229, 233, .278, .170, .147, .182, .158 and .175.
The No. 5 hitter, Rougned Odor, is the second baseman whose salary is being paid by the Texas Rangers. Just saying. It’s not the lineup your grandfather remembers. Or the one manager Aaron Boone and/or general manager Brian Cashman envisioned one month ago.
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Now that the real thing has been completed and the NFL’s next mock draft is six months away, MLB.com has stepped in to fill the gap with its first MVP Award poll. It was delivered on cue, 10 days before Mother’s Day.
It should come as no great surprise that the Angels’ Mike Trout was the runaway leader in the American League, with 70 of 94 votes, while the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. was the NL leader with a paltry 51 votes. I really do wish they’d wait at least until Father’s Day before the speculation starts.
You can expect the final tally to show up in your email box a week after the World Series ends — or about a week or two before the NFL’s next mock draft.
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Interesting stat of the week — Shohei Ohtani’s “splitter” has been deemed the most unhittable pitch in baseball, for good reason. Opposing hitters are 0-for-19, with 18 strikeouts, on at-bats that have concluded with the split-fingered delivery.
Given that Ohtani has faced only 62 batters in three starts, Vegas no doubt will be working on a line on whether there will be more splitters in the future — or more “takes” by hitters prone to chase the third strike. A good guess would be more of both.
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At this point you have to wonder if the Yankees are worried they will never see the full potential of Aaron Judge. Those 52 home runs seem like they came a lifetime ago.
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It’s obvious by now that Jacob deGrom has grounds for an inferior support against the Mets’ inopportune offense. But, come on, why would you take the best pitcher in the game out after six innings and 93 pitches, as happened in his recent 1-0 loss to the Red Sox?
One thing is for certain — you wouldn’t take him out for a pinch-hitter. deGrom has been the best hitter in the Mets’ lineup whenever he’s on the mound.
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News flash: Yahoo! Sports came out with its first “winners and losers” list of the NFL draft — less than an hour after the first round was completed. The Ravens weren’t mentioned. Just thought you’d like to know.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox