Woo baseball, but the first month of the season tells many lies. The Tampa Bay Rays are a blistering 11-0, while three other teams have equally surprising starts. Are these something or nothing?
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Heading through the MLB season’s second week, it is hard to stay patient. We want to make declarations about what we are seeing. Not everything taking place in the first month of the season is important, though. We add extra import to actions that take place early on that would be glossed over immediately if they took place during July. Are these hot and cold starts something or nothing?
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Some things are something, but some things are nothing. Let’s separate out what’s important from what’s not, starting with the hottest of hot in the Tampa Bay Rays. Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Arizona join the party with equally surprising starts to the 2023 season.
Something Or Nothing: Hot Starts In 2023
Tampa Bay Rays Starting The Season 11-0
Todd Salem: Going 11-0 is hard to do. Sweeping three series in a row is super impressive regardless of when it happens. The fact that this is the beginning of a season, I think, actually makes it even more impressive. I grant that the same 11-0 streak can get lost in the middle of the year, especially if it came against Detroit, Washington, and Oakland, as this streak did. However, Tampa Bay is blowing the doors off everyone. The Rays haven’t even had a save chance yet because every victory was by at least four runs. This is special stuff.
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We all know the Tampa Bay pitching is superb, but it was unexpected to see this level of offensive output. This is something for sure, even if they lose their next series.
Dan Salem: This reminds me of our New York Yankees last season. They absolutely destroyed teams during the first half of the year, then had a bad month and ended the season as ‘very good’ but not ‘great.’ What Tampa Bay is doing with their blistering hot start is definitely something, but temper expectations. No one can take away from the Rays just how prepared they were to begin the year, nor the wins they’ve been banking. I don’t expect them to run away with the AL East, but they are a playoff team and will likely be very prepared for the postseason. When adversity strikes, we shall learn exactly who this team is, but for now we can all agree they are certainly something worth talking about.
Philadelphia With NL-Worst -22 Run Differential Through 1st Three Series
Todd Salem: The Phillies got blasted by Texas in the season’s opening series, which kind of swayed this number. They righted the ship in series two and actually won series three. More precisely, their three best pitchers, Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, and Taijuan Walker, all got roughed up. We know that won’t happen many more times, if it all. It is just statistical noise and cold-weather beginnings for a batch of great starting pitchers. This is nothing.
Dan Salem: I’m not ready to so quickly dismiss a terrible start to the season, especially in Philadelphia. Run differential is often a better indicator of team strength than wins and losses. This number will certainly change, because the Phillies are a pretty good team, but falling so flat with months to prepare is telling. This is something and I’m concerned about Philadelphia’s viability in the playoff conversation.
Milwaukee With Best Run Differential In NL Through 3 Series, At +25
Todd Salem: Only the Rays have been more dominant in all of baseball than the Brewers through three series. The team has thrown three shutouts in three series, swept the Mets, and handled the Cardinals. These are not cheap victories.
Of course, the Brewers themselves have also been shutout twice already. The run prevention is real, but I don’t believe in this team’s offense as of yet. Garrett Mitchell and Brian Anderson have a combined six home runs, 40 total bases, and each have an OPS over 1,000. I think it’s fair to say some regression is coming to this team. They may still challenge for the division title in the NL Central, so this is not nothing, but it also isn’t quite something.
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Dan Salem: This is just as much something as the Phillies’ poor start. The Brewers are showing they are the playoff team we thought they could be. Milwaukee is a team to fear this season, even if they ultimately fall short of their new expectations set by this great run differential. We can’t put too much stock in a hot start, especially if the wins aren’t in sync with the great run differential. But we must acknowledge Milwaukee’s strength, which isn’t going away either.
Arizona Diamondbacks Lead The NL West
Todd Salem: It’s too early for stats to tell us much of anything, but already Arizona’s run differential gives it away. The Diamondbacks are fourth in the division at -3 despite an early collection of wins. Just look at that first series: lost by six, won by one, lost by nine, won by one. It’s classic.
And yet! Arizona has faced the Los Angeles Dodgers eight times and the San Diego Padres twice, and maneuvered the first 10 games with a 6-4 record. I say that’s mightily impressive. The offense loves to run and generate movement on the base paths to create scoring opportunities. The bullpen misses bats, and the rotation has a legitimate ace. This team won’t finish the year with a division title, but being in contention like they are now is something.
Dan Salem: Finally something that feels like nothing. I view the Diamondbacks as that pesky team that won’t just go away. Unless the Padres and Dodgers fall on their faces, I’m not ready to say there is a new leader in the NL West clubhouse. I’m willing to view Arizona as better than expected and a team to watch, but this hot start is not anything right now.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
Tampa Bay Rays Photo Credits: thatballsouttahere.com and abcactionnews.com
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